In the aftermath of the horrific mass killing that occurred at the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, myriad statements have been made by a cross-section of Americans. While the vast majority agree that the unprovoked attack on black parishioners at the hands of bigoted white gunman Dylann Roof was senseless, some inexplicably believe this act of terrorism was not motivated by racial hatred.
2016 Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, called the tragedy “an attack on religious liberty”. Fox News correspondent Steve Doocy commented by saying “And some look at it as, well, it’s because it was a white guy, apparently, and a black church. But you made a great point just a moment ago about the hostility toward Christians, and it was in a church, so maybe that’s what it was about.” They contend that the gunman targeted the church due to anti- religious sentiments . Those assertions cannot be further from the truth.
Quite frankly, the position that some right wing political pundits take that this tragedy was not racially motivated is preposterous. There is no evidence to corroborate the implication that this crime was due to anything other than racial animus . For proof, one need to look no further than the perpetrator’s actions, words, and manifesto.
For starters, the culprit publicly supported white supremacist ideologies such as separation of the races. He featured the Confederate flag insignia on his automobile and flags of the defunct former racist regimes of Rhodesia and South Africa on his clothing . He also expressed these despicable sentiments as he was carrying out his attack. When asked why he was committing this sadistic act of hate he replied “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go”. Statements such as these are par for the course for believers in white supremacy. In addition, when Roof was apprehended, he revealed that he committed this horrific act of violence to incite a race war between the black collective and Caucasians.
In addition to the shooters reprehensible ideologies, other evidence pointing to racism as a motivating factor lies in the fact he targeted a church. Roof did not choose Mother Emanuel by coincidence. He targeted the church due to it’s rich activist tradition that dates back nearly two centuries . The attacking of African American churches by white nationalists is nothing new. For decades, in an attempt to quell black uprising, white extremists attacked the nucleus of the black community: our place of worship. Examples of such are the 2009 destruction of a black church in the aftermath of the Barack Obama’s Presidential inauguration and the 1963 bombing of Birmingham, Alabama’s 16th Street Baptist Church.
In the past few years, there have been many senseless deaths of African Americans at the hands of whites, in which racial bias may have been the cause, but cannot be completely verified. This massacre is not one of those instances. This shooting carried out by a man who said that he wanted to execute African Americans. Right wing political pundits who affirm that the actions of Dylann Roof were not due to racial bigotry are terribly misinformed, as the evidence above attests. This senseless attack should be called exactly what it is – an act of domestic terrorism motivated by virulent racial hostility.
©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015.