The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Why Not Say It's Racism? The Charleston Massacre

    The murder of nine people in Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston has left me sick and stunned, as it has left many of you. And what I needed badly, over the last two days, was national unity. But I didn't get it. Apparently, we're too divided as a nation to band together after a terrorist attack. We're so divided that some of us won't admit that the terrorist had the motives that he clearly proclaimed. Apparently, there are sides to take in everything, even this.

    Some people - not just twits and trolls on the Internet but prominent public figures - refuse to admit that the Charleston murder was motivated by race. Or they admit it only reluctantly, after previous evasions. That includes people running for President of the United States. I find that outrageous. And I find it menacing. Why give a terrorist political cover?

    The Charleston killer isn't some garden-variety, sends-around-racist-e-mail racist. He's a full-on white supremacist. He publicly displayed a photo of himself wearing the flags of two white-supremacist governments, Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa, suggesting he's so racist that he resents blacks being allowed to vote in Africa. He told his roommate he believed in "segregation." He selected a historic black church that had been a center of both the anti-slavery and civil rights movements, and he attacked it on the anniversary of a failed slave uprising led by one of the church's founders. Apparently he hasn't forgiven Mother Emanuel AME for the abolition of slavery. He stood up and made a racist rant before he started shooting. But today, Jeb Bush -- Jeb Bush! -- says that he doesn't know if the killer was racially motivated.

    Yes, you do, Jeb. You know. Just like everyone on Fox News knows. Just like Nikki Haley and Lindsay Graham knew yesterday, before they could bring themselves to say the words "hate crime" today, when Haley was talking about how we would "never know" the killer's motivations. You know. Why can't you say it?

    Do you need hard-core racists' votes (or hard-core racist viewers) so badly that you're afraid of speaking out any racism, no matter how extreme?

    Do you see race in America as an us-vs-them game, in which any acknowledgement of black suffering somehow takes something away from whites?

    Do you actually think this murderer is so close to you ideologically that his crimes discredit you? How ideologically close to him ARE you?

    Are you actually afraid that taking action against racist violence will mean losing something you want to keep, or that your supporters want to keep?

    Are there steps law enforcement could take against this kind of violence that you don't want them to take? Why the hell not?

    If those questions seem tough, well, you had a simple question with an obvious answer and you blew it.  When you couldn't or wouldn't admit what was in front of your face, it made me wonder why not. When an extremist commits a crime for obvious racist reasons, refusing to admit that racism was the motive means letting racism itself off the hook. And excusing the ideology means leaving the door open for the next act of ideological terrorism. What I hear you saying is that this crime was awful but that you don't want to prevent the next one. And that scares the bejesus out of me.



    I'm pretty sure that some of the same people who aren't willing to accept this idiot's word that his motivation was racism have said about Muslim terrorists that if they say their motivation is Islam, we should believe them! Like you, I'm not really that puzzled as to why they won't do the same here.

    In Fox Land, the only racism in modern America is "reverse" racism against white people.

    In Fox Land, the only terrorists are dark-skinned Muslims.

    In Fox Land, "hate crime" legislation is a diabolical plot to persecute Christians.

    So you see, Dylann Roof can't be a racist because there are no white racists. He can't be a terrorist because there are no white Christian terrorists. And he can't be guilty of a hate crime because hate crimes aren't real.

    You nailed it once again. When republicans leaders can't even admit that an actual white supremacist is racist the republican party has gone so far off the map we're not even in the same universe anymore.

    Jeb Bush is a coward. South Carolina is key to winning a presidential nomination. So Bush stayed within the Republican big lie: Roof is an oddity.  

    Roof is not an oddity. He is a racist, with the outward hating of black persons that defines a white racist. There are thousands more like him.

    Roof is not an oddity. He simply acted out his beliefs. Anyone of thousands can do the same thing. 

    All of these racial haters can get guns. They are all potential killers.

    How can any politician permit so many potential killers to move at will among the citizenry?

    The answer is that a politician can't permit such a threat to society. But a Republican politician needs the votes of racists and gun advocates to win a nomination against his Republican opponents.  

    Therefore the truth itself must be distorted---Roof must be labeled an odd ball whose motivations are unclear. The companion lie then follows: there is no way to protect ourselves from these odd balls except with more guns.  

    Racists and gun rights advocates in South Carolina will help deliver a presidential nomination to the gutless Jeb Bush.

    And what I needed badly, over the last two days, was national unity. But I didn't get it.

    Sadly, no. But look no further than the breaking hearts of the people of Charleston to see what unity is. They are the people who are facing this brutality, this murderous evil head-on, and standing unbowed before it. There, suffering family members spoke forgiveness and redemption directly to the one who stole their world. There, while the nation's eyes were on a courtroom, they came together in praise and song outside of an embattled old church. That church is a root, a symbol of enduring grace and undying resolve that truth and justice are forever within reach - and those powerful people are part of that. They are that.

    Meanwhile, all around them people argue about what title the horror should hold, or what exact theme should be employed to further dialogue. If God bellowed from above that this was a hate crime of domestic terrorism aimed at a specific race, people would continue to argue. It's just easier. If anything can ultimately save us from ourselves, it will be found in the people of Charleston ... and all those who know the truth can't be argued away.

    If Dylann Storm Roof is a racist, then his family is racist. The friends who did not raise an alarm after hearing his racist plans have to be racists. The people who are denying a racial aspect to the massacre are racists. The media who classify black killers as thugs or worse, Muslims as terrorists, but wonder if a racist is mentally ill have to be classified as racists. If Dylann Scott is a racist, then groups of people also have to be racists. Fox and the GOP do not want go go near that third rail.

    If Dylann Storm Roof is a racist, then his family is racist.

    You go too far here. It seems this is often the case. It may even usually be the case. But just as a person can reject their parents racism so can a person reject his non racist upbringing and embrace white supremacy. I'd need a lot more information to form an opinion about his family.

    It was a hypothetical about what calling a racist means in our current media. When a Muslim kills the meme is that the entire culture is to blame. When blacks kill, pathology of the entire community is blamed. I used those memes as the basis for making the provocative statement about a Storm Roof's family.

    Muslims put on a conference calling for peace when dealing with things like offensive depictions of the prophet. Pamela Gellar showed up to deliver a conference of hate. Cartons of the prophet were shown.The was no reaction from the local Muslim community ,even though they were aware of the conference. Two Muslim came from out of town to unleash mayhem. Gellar calls Muslims savages. She has to force herself to ignore the Muslims who ignored the hateful bait she was using

    Blacks who kill are said to arise from pathological communities this meme leads to some boldly stating that before we address police abuse, we have to first attack "black on black crime"

    When whites kill, we look for mental illness. There is a double standard the media can cast others as thugs and terrorists. There is hesitation in calling out racism. Because it calls into question pathology of an entire group. There is another blog about the inability of Republican Presidential candidates to say that racism triggered the Charleston massacre.

    By the way, Both Roof's father and uncle turned him in to the police.

    Republicans chase blacks away from their party simply be being themselves. If the Governor of South Carolina, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, etc. Cannot identify racism when they see it and believe racism is dead, they are of no value (paraphrasing Jonathan Capehart on Hardball this evening)

    Doc C:

    Do you need hard-core racists' votes (or hard-core racist viewers) so badly that you're afraid of speaking out any racism, no matter how extreme?


    ..this strategy of complete denial of factual reality has been enormously profitable and has worked remarkably well for decades....this group of criminals and lunatics figured out that since there are no longer any cops on this beat -- that the fourth estate long ago gave up on the idea of reporting the "facts" for fear of offending the crazies -- there is no one left to stop them no matter depraved, dangerous and overtly nuts their antics have gotten.

    Doc, you said it.  There should be no argument that the man who massacred those good people in that historic black church was an absolute racist.  He is not mentally ill.  He knew right from wrong and admitted it when he told the police he almost didn't do it because the group was so nice to him.  He allowed his racist hate to take over and now nine people who should have been able to continue to live their exemplary lives are dead.  He killed them for no other reason than that they were black and he hates blacks.

    He targeted that church because he knew how much it meant to the black community.  It's roots are in goodness and mercy and he twisted the knife by using that history as a sacrificial altar to hate.

    The people who can't bring themselves to call this act racist need to be called out for their cowardice.  You did it beautifully here, Doc.  Thank you. 


    The modern conservative movement began out of resistance to changing our society by design.Goldwater had said that he opposed racism and poverty but didn't support government and public institutions forcing those things to change. The philosophy was not based upon a statement of privilege and who should have it but the idea that programs of social change = theft.

    Many decades later, the proponents of that movement have added a paradoxical codicil to the Goldwater promulgation: Society did change in many ways for the good despite the tyranny of liberal ideas but there is no need for that sort thing any longer. Every one has their civil rights now. Racism and inequality no longer need to be worked against on the level of national change. People who insist that is not the case are clinging to their victim hood:

    For Christ's sake, we even have a black Muslim president now. Stop with the complaining already.

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