In Charleston Church Shooting, America’s Founding Racism Rears its Ugly Head — Again
The media are notorious for name-calling.
Let me be even clearer. The racist white media and their racist white viewers, listeners and readers are notorious for their racist name-calling and racist approval of such.
Wednesday night’s attack by a white man against black churchgoers was textbook terrorism, but we’re currently engaged in a furious debate over whether to call it such. Meanwhile, the 21-year-old sadistic terrorist Dylann Storm Roof has been described in an ABC news broadcast as “just a quiet kid…,” in Reuters as “quiet and soft-spoken,” in the Washington Post as a “quiet, shy boy… (who) didn’t get into trouble… (and) a son, nephew, and brother… (who merely) slipped toward his alleged horrific… visit“ to the church, and in The Wall Street Journal as a “bright boy from a middle-class… family.”
Bullshit. Pure racist bullshit.
After all, this is the very same person who has reportedly confessed to methodically shooting to death nine defenseless bible-studying black women and men at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Therefore, he’s no nice kid who merely went astray through no fault of his own. To say otherwise is racist hypocrisy.
And here’s why. When black people in Ferguson, Missouri — after decades of documented police brutality and municipal “Jim Crowism” — finally rose up to protest the police murder of unarmed teen Michael Brown, they were labeled by the major media as “thugs” and members of a “mob.” The same was reported about the Baltimore protesters after the police murder of Freddie Gray, the LA protesters after the acquittal of cops despite the videotaped beating of Rodney King, and so on. By the way, let’s not mince words: “Thug” is a codeword for nigger. The media know it and we all know it.
But nobody called Seung-Hui Chu a thug after he slaughtered 32 persons in 2007 at Virginia Tech, the worst massacre in U.S. history. Neither did anyone call Adam Lanza a thug after he annihilated 26 (including 20 young children) in 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Instead, he was described as a “misunderstood and mistreated… isolated young man.” No one called George Hennard a thug after he slayed 23 in 1991 in Killeen, Texas, or James Huberty after he executed 21 adults and children in 1984 at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, California, or Charles Joseph Whitman after he butchered 18 in 1966 at the University of Texas tower. In fact, 23-year-old Jared Loughner, who killed six and wounded 14 others, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, in 2011 in Tucson, Arizona, was referred to as “a normal boy.” You think maybe their non-black ethnicities had something to do with the lack of name-calling?
— U.S. Dept. of Fear (@FearDept) June 13, 2015
Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley said that Roof’s attack was the act of just “one hateful person.” No, Mr. Mayor, it was not. It was a microcosm of the macrocosm best described not as American exceptionalism but instead as violently racist American thuggery.
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? America, or more precisely stated, Europeans/Americans, robbed this land from — and committed genocide against — the so-called Indians (i.e., the Taino and later the Onkwehonwe, etc.) beginning with Columbus in 1492 and then continuing with the “Final Solution” known as “Manifest Destiny” from 1622-1924. When Columbus arrived in what is referred to as North America, there were more than 20 million red people here. By the early 1800s, there were only one million.
Second on the violently racist European/American history hit-list were the blacks who were enslaved here. From 1525-1866, approximately 13 million Africans were captured and shipped to the so-called New World, with nearly a half million arriving in the colonies. By 1860, nearly four million blacks were enslaved here.
And finally, let’s take a look at America’s violently racist history hit-list regarding brown people. Today, many Americans talk about sealing the borders in order to keep out the “dirty Mexicans who wanna steal American jobs and freeload on American land.” Well, I hate to break the news, but they’re not dirty and they give much more labor than they get paid for and they work exceptionally hard for that low pay. Most important, it’s their goddamn land. That’s right: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah belonged to Mexico until America violently took 529,000 square miles of sovereign Mexican land by killing and looting, leading to the Mexican Cession of 1848 and then the brutally coerced Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo during that same year. So what does all this red, black and brown history mean?
It means that Roof’s violent white racism is nothing new. It means that intolerance of people of color is endemic to white America. Roof had Confederate plates on his car, just like his home state of South Carolina flaunts the Confederate flag in front of the Confederate Soldiers Monument on the official grounds of the state capitol in Columbia. And don’t tell me about it being a symbol of “Southern pride.” It’s not. It’s a symbol of blatant racist white supremacy and violence. But don’t believe me. Believe the white supremacists who birthed that flag. As stated by one of them, Alexander H. Stephens, in his historic “Corner Stone” speech on March 21, 1861, “Our new government is founded upon … the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordinate to the superior race is his natural … condition ….”
Roof is not the exception. He’s the rule. And nothing is going to change until white America owns up to its deep racism, admits its wrongdoing, and repents. I’m not accusing every white American of being a murderous maniac. But I am accusing almost all white Americans of indefensibly denying white murderous mania and white brutal racism and white subtle racism.
As Chris Crass — a white man — concedes at goodmenproject.com:
Every white person who refers to Charleston as incomprehensible racial tension… is providing cover to murderous, historically rooted, growing stronger everyday, structural and cultural white supremacy. If we truly abhor this devastating act, then we must recognize it as terrorism and seek to understand…. the institutional backing and political agenda this terrorism is imbedded in. We must realize that white indifference and denial are key to giving space for this terrorism….
And as Kali Holloway perceptively noted at alternet.org:
To pretend to be surprised by… (Roof’s) crime is to be complicit in it. We live in a country… where there is a legacy of terror against black people and communicates, where white racists have long targeted black churches, (and) where African-American life is so devalued it can be taken with impunity…. There is a single conclusion to draw in this moment, and it is that we are here again because this is exactly who we are.
It was none other than Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who, at the 1963 eulogy following the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, that claimed the lives of four innocent little girls, “We must be concerned not merely about who murdered… (black people), but about the system, the way of life, and the philosophy which produced the murderers.”
But if you’re white and not persuaded by Dr. King and still believe that white killers are nice kids who merely went astray through no fault of their own and that black protesters are thugs, and you still don’t think you’re part of the racism problem, take a look at this YouTube video entitled “Systemic Racism For Dummies 2015” by Laci Green. She’s white so you know it’s legit.
Michael Coard’s radio show, “The Radio Courtroom,” airs at noon on Sundays and Wednesdays. It can be heard locally on WURD 900 AM and on the Internet at 900amwurd.com. Follow @MichaelCoard on Twitter.