Instead I am sitting here practically vibrating with rage over last night's shootings at Charleston's Emmanuel A.M.E. Church. The details are all over the television and the internet so I don't need to do more than summarize that last night a white man, identified as Dylann Roof, entered the church and sat in on a prayer meeting and bible study for about an hour before pulling out a pistol and opening fire, reloading five times in the process. Nine people died including the church's pastor Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was also a South Carolina state senator.
The police and FBI have been very quick to call this, what it is, a hate crime. It needs to be called what it also is, terrorism. Ever since 2009 there has been a nationwide increase in the number and membership in right-wing hate groups. We don't know if Roof is a member of any of these groups but I think we can safely say he shares their beliefs and politics. If you look in the picture linked above he is wearing a jacked with the flags of apartheid era South Africa and the old Republic of Rhodesia, two of the worst examples of institutionalized white nationalist racism this side of Nazi Germany. This shooting was done for no other reason than to create fear and hatred and terror and no doubt in the shooter's mind, spark a race war to purge the US of blacks and other undesirables.
The shooter is quoted as saying "You rape our women and you're taking over our country." Our country? I don't know about his country but my country is one that has included blacks since 1619, brought here as slaves. America is just as much a black country as it is a white one.
I'm not black. There were not many blacks in my suburb of Cleveland growing up. Honestly, I must admit that I do not have many black friends. I can't speak to the subject of the black experience in America except to acknowledge on a purely intellectual level that it is not easy. But I have enough humanity to feel sympathy of the victims and their families and African Americans as a whole for this monstrosity.
I don't know if they want my sympathy. Am I just another middle class, white liberal who is all talk? I know I want to do something. Must do something! This is the 21st century and this kind of crap must stop! I'm not naive enough to believe that the election of Barack Obama means we have entered a post-racial America. There's too much evidence to the contrary, including a lot of the recent examples of police brutality. But I really thought this level of senseless, terroristic violence ended in the 1960s.
I am angry and I am hurt. My country is better than this. I want this to be a place where my son can grow up and not have to worry about some nut job with too many guns and too much rage hurting innocent people at prayer.
I could go on but I am having a hard time articulating my feelings. I know others with a better perspective and better knowledge will write and say things in the next few days that will help me express myself. But for now I needed to say something.
I'm not an overly religious person and even then it's an eclectic personal spirituality but I am praying for the victims. I am praying for all African-Americans. And I am praying for the United States.