Reeling as we all still are in my adopted hometown of Charleston, SC, after a young man chose to murder nine innocent people, men that wear the Republican label on the lapels next to their flag pins, and who have expressed a heartfelt desire to take the reins as President in 2017, have chosen to cower instead of lead. Faced with the awful reality that a white man sought out, planned and slaughtered black men and women, solely because they were black, these pretenders to the throne ducked, dodged and tucked their tails around their political privates.
Dylann Roof strolled into a historic black church in downtown Charleston and sat with black parishioners for an hour before he proclaimed he had to kill them, because they were “raping our women and taking over the country.” He callously murdered nine people who had welcomed him to their fellowship, and then fled, fortunately caught several hundred miles away in NC and now in custody.
I don’t expect any one person to respond to this racist terrorist attack with an immediate proposed solution to the issue of racism, racially motivated violence, and gun violence in the United States. These are not simple problems to solve, nor is proposing a solution even an appropriate response immediately after the slaughter of innocents. But to not even acknowledge that this was an act of horrific violence specifically aimed at black Americans, to pretend to not know what could have motivated the killer, to shift focus to President Obama’s gun control aspirations, to sidestep the issue altogether or to try to create a diversion that perhaps this murderer was targeting Christians is disgraceful. It is dishonorable, and they will carry this whimpering display of weakness with them for all time.
The Confederate flag, the symbol of the racist, slave-owning past that is part of our national shame flies high over the South Carolina State House. One man who hails from South Carolina and represents its people in Congress couldn’t even display the courage to say that South Carolina has neglected its citizens for far too long by smugly holding this symbol of ignorance and hatred in esteem. A daily reminder to black men, women and children that white Americans once owned them like property, and fought to keep it that way, even if meant killing their fellow Americans. The Senator could have done the painfully obvious thing and simply said he felt sorrow for the lives lost, the awful stain of slavery in our state and the humiliation black Americans in South Carolina must feel every day under the symbol of the Confederacy and call for that flag to be taken down. Even if he doesn’t have the power to make it happen himself, it would have been a sign of solidarity with decent human beings everywhere and the only right thing to do on this day. Fiat justitia ruat caelum.
“It’s not who we are, it’s not who our country is, it’s about this guy, and this guy’s got tons of problems and to kill people in a church after sitting with them for an hour shows you… tells you how whacked out this kid is. There are real people who are organized out there to kill people in religion and based on race, this guy’s just whacked out. But it’s 2015. There are people out there looking for Christians to kill them. The problems we have in South Carolina and throughout the world do not stem from symbols, but because of what’s in people’s heart. How do you go back and reconstruct America?”
But Senator Graham was not the only man who looks to lead this country who failed to show even a hint of true leadership today. I could lacerate each of them with my loathsome raw emotions tonight, but instead I’ll let them speak for themselves and capture their cowardice for them, and their posterity.
“This is the M.O. of this administration, any time there is an accident like this — the president is clear, he doesn’t like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message. Also, I think there is a real issue to be talked about. It seems to me, again without having all the details about this, that these individuals have been medicated and there may be a real issue in this country from the standpoint of these drugs and how they’re used.”
“What kind of person goes into church and shoots nine people? There’s a sickness in our country, there’s something terribly wrong, but it isn’t going to be fixed by your government. It’s people straying away, it’s people not understanding where salvation comes from. And I think that if we understand that, we’ll understand and have better expectations of what we get from our government.”
“It’s obviously a crime of hate. We don’t know the rationale, but what other rationale could there be. You’re sort of lost that someone would walk into a Bible study at a church and indiscriminately kill people. This is one of those situation where you have to take a step a back and say — you talk about the importance of prayer at this time, and we’re now seeing assaults on religious liberty we’ve never seen before, so it’s a time for deeper reflection even beyond this horrible situation.”
“It was a horrific act and I don’t know what the background of it is, but it was an act of hatred. I don’t know [when asked if it was motivated by race]. Looks like to me it was, but we’ll find out all the information. It’s clear it was an act of raw hatred, for sure. Nine people lost their lives, and they were African-American. You can judge what it is. I don’t know what was on the mind or the heart of the man who committed these atrocious crimes, but I do know what was in the heart of the victims.”
“This type of conduct is something that only our display of our own love and good faith that’s in our heart can change, laws can’t change this, only the goodwill and the love of the American people can let those folks know that act was unacceptable, disgraceful and we need to do more to show that we love each other.”
“Today, the body of Christ is in mourning. I want to begin by reflecting on the horrific tragedy of last night at the Emanuel AME Church — that a sick and deranged person came and prayed with a historically black congregation for an hour. And then murdered nine innocent souls. And I just want to begin with a moment of silence remembering those who were murdered last night…. It’s a new morning. A new morning, and we are gathered here today focused on our country, focused on the threats facing our nation.”
“…disappointed that he [President Obama] considered the shooting a great opportunity to grandstand and jump up on the stump and talk about gun control. It sounds crass, but frankly the best way to stop a bad person with a gun is to have a good person with a weapon that is equal or superior to the one that he’s using. All the proposals this president and others have put forward on gun control would not have stopped this shooting anymore than it would have stopped Sandy Hook. The one thing that would have at least ameliorated the horrible situation in Charleston would have been that if somebody in that prayer meeting had a conceal carry or there had been either an off duty policeman or an on duty policemen, somebody with the legal authority to carry a firearm and could have stopped the shooter.”
At least the next two men, while scoring no points for leadership or backbone, can be appreciated for their brevity, which limits the possibilities of showing one’s nature. They used Twitter as their means to reach out to the nation they wish to lead:
Saddened by the news from Charleston. The victims and their families are in my prayers today.
Our prayers for the families & friends of loved ones killed in Charleston, S.C.
Once again, gunshots have pierced the night air in an American town and the life blood of innocent human beings poured onto our shocked psyches. Blind hatred of our brothers and sisters, built upon a legacy of ignorance, brutality and savagery is alive and well. Charleston is just the latest coordinates marking the spot where the anger boiled over to culminate in mind numbing horror. May the families, friends and loved ones of the fallen find peace. May we all.