Troubled youth. That’s what the media has to say about the terrorist who calmly entered a place of worship, sat beside his intended victims for at least an hour, and then with malice and forethought brutally slaughtered 9 innocent human beings. He said he wanted to start a race war. But politicians, media and others hesitate to call it a hate crime.
This is only one example of the pathology that governs race relations in the United States today. In this supposedly post-racial society, obvious inequities are overlooked much as the emperor’s nakedness in Hans Christian Andersen’s fable went not unseen, but unacknowledged. At least until someone had the strength of character to speak the truth.
So the Boston marathon murderer was immediately identified as “a terrorist”… and that was an accurate description. But Dylann Roof is no less so. He took innocent lives for no reason other than to make a sick, demented point.
While sages agree that the Boston marathon killers’ actions represented the intent of the entire Muslim religion to destroy America – Roof’s rampage, they say, represented the hateful intent of a lone murderer.
While Roof’s action occurred under the backdrop of a state that fought tooth and nail for the right to fly the Confederate flag and continues to do so today even after this heinous crime, few in South Carolina are comfortable calling this a hate crime.
While the South Carolina and American flags fly half-mast, the Confederate flags still flys high; irreverent to the lives of 9 more Black people snuffed out by racism, hatred and bigotry. South Carolinians walk daily on paths named with great pride after what I would call ‘infamous” heroes of the Civil War.
The killer, demonstrating his ignorance as well as his bigotry, claimed he must carry out this heinous act to keep Blacks from taking from White Americans. Ignorant, because it was, in fact White America that wrested this land from the Native Americans who were its first inhabitants… bigoted because it was the slave master who brutally raped Black women, stolen from the bosom of Africa, ripped black babies from the arms of their mothers and sold them to parts unknown and beat and murdered Black men who would object.
No one wants to talk about these facts. But they are a festering wound that is reopened every time a Black youth is shot while walking in a neighborhood where he has every right to be; is manhandled for swimming in a pool; is choked to death on the street for alleged minor misconduct; is shot down in broad daylight for infractions that might not even result in a night in jail.
And then there is the flip side - where a Black woman is jailed for defending herself from a known abuser. Or, lets take into account the manner in which Mr. Roof was apprehended in comparison with the brute force used against Blacks who have committed far lesser crimes or no crimes at all. Until America has the strength of character to cry out “the emperor has no clothes;” until we as a nation admit that there are inequities and disparities that relegate an entire race to second class citizenship, then race relations will continue to spiral down to the point that Mr. Roof will get what he prays for. A nation so divided that we take up arms against one another.