Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Charleston murders and white racism denial (Updated)

So, a young white guy murders nine black people in a black church that has a past as a symbol of the antislavery and civil rights struggle. He deliberately leaves one victim alive so she can pass on his own white supremacist message for why it did it. He sported white racist symbols on his clothing and in photos of himself. He admits to the murders and says afterward that his goal was to start a race war. He talks like a white racist, he acts like a white racist, and he kills black people like a murderous white racist.

And the folks at Murdoch properties like FOX News and the Wall Street Journal and people like Jeb! BUSH and Nikki Haley and Donald Trump still are baffled as to whether white racism had anything to do with it?

There's something wrong with this picture.

Cenk Uygur has some things to say about this phenomenon, Charleston Shooting Not Racially Motivated Conservatives Say The Young Turks 06/18/2015:

Old Man Bush when he was President at least nominally opposed David Duke in Louisiana because of Duke's overt white racism. Now Republicans like Jeb! BUSH who put their Christian piety front-and-center of their marketing of themselves as candidates are no longer willing to even say straightforwardly that a racist mass murder is a racist act. Instead they glibly try to tack it on to their deeply dishonest Christians-are-persecuted slogan (by which they mean business owners might not be allowed openly hate on gay people any way they want, or that some woman somewhere might be using birth control). The irony is that there *was* a religious element in this murder. Going to a church and participating in a prayer meeting before murdering your fellow participants was a way for the killer to show that he had no respect for even the most sacred spaces or practices or beliefs that black people might hold.

But people like Jeb! BUSH or Rick Perry (who even referred to the racist mass murder as an "accident') can't say *that* without talking about the role of white racism in the act. So they pretend the murder was directed against "Christians" as such with racial hatred having nothing to do with it. Black lives really don't matter to them.

I haven't checked all the Sunday show segments. Mike Huckabee was on Meet the Press defending the Confederate flag. (Dan Cooney, Huckabee: Confederate Flag Controversy Is Not a Presidential Election Issue Meet the Press 06/21/2015) He did call Roof a "racist," but insisted he should be seen as an isolated individual. He also remarkably said that South Carolina elected the first African-American Senator from the South. [Update/Correction 06/25/2015: Huckabee actually referred to South Carolina having the only African-American Senator from the South; while I understood it in context to mean historically, he didn't literally say that he was the first ever elected from anywhere in the South. Republican Tim Scott is the contemporary South Carolina Senator to whom he's referring.] Actually that would be Blanche Kelso Bruce (1841–1898) who served as Reconstruction-era Senator from Mississippi from 1875–1881, taking the Senate seat once held by Jefferson Davis:

Sen. Blanche Kelso Bruce (R-MS), 1841–1898

Deanna Pan reports in Emanuel AME shooting may be most deadly hate crime in South Carolina history, historian says Charleston Post & Courier 06/18/2015

Wednesday night’s attack also ranks among the deadliest shootings at a house of worship in the United States. The last mass shooting at a religious institution occurred in August 2012, when Army veteran and avowed neo-Nazi Wade Michael Page killed six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., before turning his gun on himself.

“I think the publicity around mass shootings is quite extreme in the present day and so I think a lot of shooters are going to think of the most sensational type of event and in a way, the places that are attacked that get the most press are the safest. A movie theater in Colorado. A school in Connecticut,” said Dr. Jonathan Metzl, a psychiatrist at Vanderbilt University who studies mental illness and mass shootings.

“Churches fit that model in that they should be places where people can leave their fear or violence at the door. Churches are sanctuaries, and so disrupting that sense of safety is a another level of the violence that’s done in an act like this.”

The killer hates Jews, too, it seems. (Charleston shooter's apparent manifesto blames 'Jewish agitation' for U.S. racial problems Haaretz 06/20/2015; David Wren and Doug Pardue, Charleston Post & Courier 06/20/2015) Although both articles do say it's not confirmed that Dylann Roof wrote the "manifesto."

Who will be the first Presidential candidate to spin that as an "anti-Christian" motivation for the shooting? I'm not kidding. Because in the strange thinking of Christian Zionists who imagine cheering for every war supported by the Israeli Likud Party means they are "pro-Jewish", it's the Christian Zionists who are the True Jews.

More importantly, any excuse not to talk about the role of white racism in this killing will do. Back in the Segregation 1.0 days, good "Christian" Southern white politicians used to speculate that the shooting of a civil rights activist or an attack on a black church was staged by black people or whoever to falsely implicate white racists. In any half-decent report about the notorious Mississippi Burning killings of 1964, you can see quotes from people speculating that the missing civil rights workers were being hidden by Communists or somebody somewhere. But to lots of white people, those still look like the Good Ole Days.

Matthew Boudway on the Commonweal blog writes (This Week's Episode 06/19/2015):

In this case, there is also the issue of racism, about which much of the country seems to be in denial. Jon Stewart called it an open wound on last night’s Daily Show, which became, for one episode, a comedy-free program. This is not an original metaphor, but it's a good one. Open wounds become infected if you ignore them, and that’s what seems to be happening with racism during the second term of our first black president. We can’t expect our politicians to make the racism go away—it’s too deep and complex a problem to be solved by policy alone—but they must do the little they can. At the very least, they must acknowledge that the problem persists.

Aurin Squire addresses Why Conservatives Still Won't Admit That Charleston Was A Racist Crime TPM 06/19/25015

Charlie Pierce addresses Jeb! BUSH's shameful position in Jeb (!) and the Politics of the Dive Esquire Politics Blog 06/19/2015:

Digby wites about The GOP’s staggering Charleston cowardice: Why are so many Republicans so scared of admitting the truth? Salon 06/19/2015

Scott Eric Kaufman wrote on his Facebook page 06/20/2015:

Just so we're absolutely clear -- Republicans and Fox News don't think the Confederate flag is an issue because the massacre in Charleston wasn't about race.

BECAUSE SOME OF YOU NEED THIS SPELLED OUT: The only way you could miss this point is if you're ideologically invested in doing so, and the fact that the GOP presidential contenders all missed it says all you need to know about them.

There's no walking back the fact that all of them initially wanted this shooting to be about ANYTHING other than aggrieved white people exercising their Second Amendment right to murder a group of black people exercising their First Amendment rights to practice their faith and freely assemble.

Naomi Braine writes about the closely related issue of what I call Terrorism Denial, Terror Network or Lone Wolf? Disparate Legal Treatment of Muslims and the Radical Right Public Eye 06/19/2015/Spring 2015 issue.

On the Charleston church's past, see: Jennifer Berry Hawes, Historic Emanuel AME Church has risen from tragedy for two centuries Charleston Post & Courier 06/18/2015.

Doug Pardue and Jennifer Berry Hawes give an account of the mass murder, In an hour, a church changes forever Charleston Post & Courier 06/19/2015.

No comments: