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    racist act of terror

    Keep your prayers, Nikki…

    by | 9 | Jun 22, 2015
    Dismantle Hate, Black Lives Matter (Candlelight Vigil for Victims of Charleston Mother Emanuel AME Church Shooting) - by Light Brigading

    Candlelight Vigil for Victims of Charleston Mother Emanuel AME Church Shooting

    These past few days I have been frantically trying to wrap my brain around the slaughter of nine African-American men and women at the Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston S.C last Wednesday night.

    The crime was heinous, profane and an extreme act of cowardice. It was pre-meditated, mindful and calculated. Above all — it was a racist act of terror.

    ****

    Mother Emanuel AME Church by Howard Arnoff

    Mother Emanuel AME Church

    To the credit of law enforcement, the perpetrator, Dylann Storm Roof, was apprehended within 18 hours, over 200 miles away in North Carolina and flown back to Charleston, where he was jailed.

    At Roof’s subsequent bond hearing on Friday, one by one, each of the flesh and blood survivors of the victims tearfully expressed their hurt, their agony, their sorrow and their loss of all that Dylann Roof had taken away from them –and the rest of us. Then, in what must have been nine of the more extraordinarily charitable moments in human history, each of the nine survivors said to Roof, “I forgive you.”

    I do not possess the amazing and extraordinary grace of the victims’ survivors. I’m mad as hell at Dylann Roof and the carnage he has wrought. The truth is I am not nearly as quick to forgive him as are some others. A higher truth is maybe I can never forgive him. Maybe. If that ruffles Christian sensibilities, I’m sorry. (Not really!)

    ****

     

    Besides Roof, another focus of my ire is a number of public actors – artful dodgers, we might call them—and their initial reactions to Roof’s heinous deed:

    U.S. Senator, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says Roof was “…looking for Christians to kill.” Come on Lindsey, you are not that dumb. Roof was looking to kill African-Americans. Period. He expressly said as much and unless one is blind, it’s imminently easier to tell if someone is black than it is to tell if they are a Christian.

    Rick Perry, former Governor of Texas, initially said the Charleston killings were “an accident.” Later he said he meant  “an incident.” Apparently, Rick, you ARE that dumb!

    In perhaps the most callously stupid thing ever uttered by a human being, NRA Board Member Charles Cotton blamed one of Roof’s victims, State Sen. Rev. Clementha Pinckney for the killings! Pinckney, who was also the Pastor at Mother Emmanuel, had opposed and voted against an Open Gun Carry measure in a recent session of the South Carolina Legislature. “Eight of his church members, who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church, are dead,” Cotton said. “Innocent people died because of his political position on the issue.”

    Charles, Clementha Pinckney was a Man of the Cloth. It is not unreasonable to expect that he would oppose Open Carry. And while I am no Bible scholar, the last time I checked, Jesus Himself did not carry a Glock. Pssst! Based upon this comment, sounds like you,Charles Cotton, are now qualified to be a 2016 Republican candidate for President.

    ****

    SC Gov. Nikki Haley

    SC Gov. Nikki Haley by Mary Austin

    Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s governor, on the morning after the killings issues a statement:

    “Michael, Rena, Nalin and I are praying for the victims and families touched by tonight’s senseless tragedy at Emanuel AME Church. While we do not yet know all of the details, we do know that we’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another.”

    Excuse me, Nikki. Really!? Unless one happens to be as dumb as a box of hammers, when a group of African-Americans is annihilated by a white guy, one who says at the time that his purpose is to kill black folks, it’s pretty obvious that racism is the root-cause of the crime.

    Nikki goes on to say “Please join us in lifting up the victims and their families with our love and prayer.”

    Keep your prayers, Nikki. Just keep ‘em. Too many times when there is yet another mass killing, public figures respond not by saying what can they do to possibly prevent another one. Rather they say “We’re gonna lift the victims up in prayer…to give the victims the strength to get through this…”

    The sentiment is a polite ‘dismissive’, a substitute for doing something practical, something tangible. Too often it’s a platitude, a polite substitute for doing anything at all. Rather, Nikki, if you really want to help, DO SOMETHING …something that people can see, feel, hear, touch, and smell. To many citizens, both inside and outside of South Carolina, the Stars and Bars is a symbol of racism and hatred. It is a symbol of painful times–a  poke in the eye from the past. One will recall, that it’s not even the South Carolina state flag. And while striking down the Confederate flag from the entrance to the state capital won’t in and of itself cure a toxic racial atmosphere, it’s a good start.

    ****

    Dylann Roof committed one of the most cowardly terrorist acts of the New Millennium. But his crime is abetted by the artful dodgers referenced above. Too many of those folks, who are political leaders, folks who have offered themselves to us as candidates for the Presidency have failed to even acknowledge the existence of racism in this crime. How sad. How intellectually dishonest. No one expects a single leader to solve a problem that has existed forever. But not to acknowledge the problem exists is cowardice plain and simple. I hope Governor Haley and the would-be-Presidents –artful political dodgers– are proud of themselves. They shouldn’t be.

    ###
    • Images: Dismantle Hate, Black Lives Matter, the Candlelight Vigil for Victims of Charleston Mother Emanuel AME Church Shooting by Light Brigading; Emanuel AME Church by Howard Arnoff; SC Gov. Nikki Haley by Mary Austin; - all via flickr and used under a Creative Commons license.
    Will Cantrell

    Will Cantrell

    Will Cantrell (a pseudonym) is a writer, storyteller, and explorer of the milieu of everyday life. An aging Baby Boomer, a Georgia Tech grad, and a retired banker, Cantrell regularly chronicles what he swears are 'mostly true'  'everyman' adventures. Of late, he's written about haircuts, computer viruses, Polar Vortexes, identity theft, ketchup, doppelgangers, bifocals, ‘Streetification’, cursive handwriting, planning his own funeral and other gnarly things that caused him to scratch his head in an increasingly more and more crazy-ass world.   As for Will himself, the legend is at an early age he wandered South, got lost, and like most other self-respecting males, was loathe to ask for directions. The best solution, young Will mused, “was just to stay put”. All these years later, he still hasn't found his way but remains  a son of the New South. He was recently sighted somewhere close to I-285, lost, bumfuzzled and mumbling something about “...writing' his way home.” Of course, there are a lot of folks who think that “Cantrell ain't wrapped too tight” but hope that he keeps writing about his adventures as he finds his way back to the main highway.

     

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    • MLG

      There could be no better way to say “Oh NOW I get it,” than for every state that sanctions the display of any version of the confederate flag (lower case “c”) to remove them immediately. Mississippi can have a contest to design a new flag. The contest can begin tomorrow morning and be done by the end of the week.

      It may only be a symbolic end to the treason of Civil War which has gone on far too long, but it certainly would be a good start.

    • Until 1962, the SC state house didn’t have the Confederate flag -- it was added by the racists governing the state at the time to make a statement against civil rights. It isn’t a symbol of pride or heritage. Clearly it represents only hate and bigotry. Any state that continues to make this statement by using this imagery from Confederate flags – Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, should be boycotted, marched against, shamed by whatever lawful means to get their bigoted, assholian, white supremacists leaders to change it. Going a step further, I believe President Obama needs to call for this, too and ask the Justice Department to employ any means possible to legally make this change happen. We aren’t going to turn any imaginary page on racism here by prayer or sentiment, but symbols matter and if we can’t even change them, I fear for what comes next. Thank you will for your passion and wonderful writing.

      • hannah

        When authority stands silent in the face of abuse, it becomes complicit. What shall we say when it waves a starting flag?

    • David Evans

      As Will knows better than I, the Black Church has always been the sanctuary of the community. All through the state-sponsored terrorism of Jim Crow, racists attacked the church, since they knew that was where people congregated to discuss social problems as well as worship. When this deranged misfit planned his attack while sitting in the midst of these innocent people, he knew he was stabbing at the heart of the Black Community. It was a deliberate act, not a spontaneous outburst by someone who would later cop an insanity plea. The great tragedy of our country was not the Civil War, but the failure of Reconstruction that ushered in the Jim Crow era and official segregation (with the 1896 Supreme Court Plessy v Ferguson ruling that brought us “separate but equal”) and the violence that went unpunished. The most sickening photos of the 20th century are not necessarily the shots of the cadaverous Holocaust victims. Right up there in the hall of shame are the photos of the family outings to attend lynchings, as though they were picnic events. This horrific man comes from a long heritage of hate. As Will says, let’s not sugarcoat this event with platitudes and hypocritical prayers. We all know its origins. Sadly, there will always be those out there whose only regret will be that they didn’t pull the trigger. There is a reason for capital punishment. If only we could exterminate the crime as well as the criminal.

    • Eileen Dight

      This was an evil act. If society fails to cast out racism, it is complicit with evil.

    • Nancy

      Will thank you for writing this and capturing your feelings while they were still so fresh. I am unable to write coherently about this unimaginable horror now and possibly forever. Right now I just feel betrayed by the entire human race. Are we really standing by and allowing this evil shit to happen? Just when I begin to believe that the world is not so hopeless, that good can overcome evil, that love is stronger than hate, that the children will lead us, I find that it’s nothing but a lie. Lord, save us from ourselves.

    • Trevor Irvin

      Good piece Will, It’s time the bullshit praying stopped and we actually do something about this.
      Regards,
      T

    • Ken

      Will
      Thank you for confronting the real issue and expressing your thoughts. I can’t come close to “forgiving” this heinous crime. Something must be done but where are the people with the power and “guts” to do something about it? Are they in the political or government arena!

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