By George E. Curry
Former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley is fond of saying, “Slavery was America’s original sin, and racism remains its unresolved dilemma.”
But the unwillingness to face up to the raw racism that led to the murder of nine African Americans attending Bible study at a church in Charleston, S.C. proves that the problem is more than just an unresolved dilemma. Judging by public opinion polls, most Whites live year-round in the 51st state – the state of denial.
First, let’s deal with the facts. Around 9 p.m. on June 17, Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old avowed White supremacist, entered Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and murdered nine, unarmed African Americans, ranging from 26 to 87 years old. Each victim was shot multiple times.
We have the murderer’s own words that his goal was to “start a race war,” according to law enforcement officials who took Roof into custody.
Rather than address obvious racism, our non-friends on Fox & Friends and other Fox network programs attempted to make the massacre about religion, gun control and anything other than the actual culprit – racism.
Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy referenced “hostility toward Christians.” That theme was echoed by Bishop E.W. Jackson when he noted that “we don’t know why he went into a church, but he didn’t choose a bar” or “basketball court.” Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani also postulated that “maybe he hates Christian churches.”
But we aren’t talking about any Christian church. We are talking about a historic Black church that had been carefully targeted by the shooter.
Within minutes after his name was made public, Dylann Roof’s White supremacy views became widely known. A photo on his Facebook page showed him wearing patches with the flags of White minority-ruled South Africa during the apartheid era and Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. Both flags are popular symbols associated with White supremacists in the U.S.
Another photo posted on Facebook by one of Roof’s friends showed him leaning against an automobile sporting the license plate, “Confederate States of America.”
Several days after the rampage, Roof’s racist manifesto was discovered. In it, he said:
“Anyone who thinks that White and black people look as different as we do on the outside, but are somehow magically the same on the inside, is delusional. How could our faces, skin, hair, and body structure all be different, but our brains be exactly the same? This is the nonsense we are led to believe.
“Negroes have lower Iqs, lower impulse control, and higher testosterone levels in generals. These three things alone are a recipe for violent behavior…”
Toward the end, he wrote:
“I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
Some conservatives tried to make the shootings a gun issue. After several Fox personalities suggested that ministers arm themselves, Steve Doocy chimed in, “If somebody was there, they would have had the opportunity to pull out their weapon and take [the shooter] out.”
But it’s not that simple.
“Fox & Friends used a mass shooting at a South Carolina church to baselessly promote the carrying of guns as a solution to prevent such attacks – even though research indicates that civilians are more likely to harm themselves or someone else than stop a criminal when they have a gun, and there is ‘no evidence; that arming civilians stops mass shootings,” observed mediamatters.org
After conducting a 5-month investigation, Mother Jones magazine concluded: “In the wake of the massacres this year at a Colorado movie theater, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, we set out to track mass shootings in the United States over the last 30 years.
“We identified and analyzed 62 of them, and one striking pattern in the data is this: In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun. And in other recent (but less lethal) rampages in which armed civilians attempted to intervene, those civilians not only failed to stop the shooter but also were gravely wounded or killed. Moreover, we found that the rate of mass shootings has increased in recent years—at a time when America has been flooded with millions of additional firearms and a barrage of new laws has made it easier than ever to carry them in public places, including bars, parks, and schools.”
Clearly, the rampage in Charleston, S.C. was not about attacking Christianity or the need for more guns. It was about racism – an issue this country has always been reluctant to address.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and BlackPressUSA.com. He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook. See previous columns at http://www.georgecurry.com/columns.