Sooooo…. Charleston. Yeah, I’ve had and will continue to have a lot to say on this subject. Quite a lot. But as a favor, I’m collecting it in this one post. More may come, but I’ll update this as long as the discussion (rants) are still relevant to the massacre and the murderer.
I waited a day after the actual shooting to see where it shook out. Although I may rant on too long, I don’t like to rant too quickly. I like to feel confident in my rants so I can be extra ranty. Like so:
READ THIS before you say anything else about “why?” the Charleston massacre. Here is the proof that the Charleston shooter was absolutely positively not a random, mentally ill person. This was a planned, intentional, terrorist attack specifically on this very church, moreso than upon those unfortunate congregants who happened to be gathered there on that day. That shooter, who I don’t care to dignify with a name right now, is acting as a soldier in a super-far-right White (pseudo-)Christian war upon African-Americans *specifically* — and there’s no way he’s operating truly alone. Someone(s) told him about this church’s history and the special significance of June 17.
This was as sure an act of war as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria or as the firing upon Ft. Sumter (by Confederates! In Charleston!). Will it be seen as such?? It seems increasingly obvious that there is an organized, evil tribe of terrorists operating in the shadows, among us, going way even beyond our (corrupt) white supremacist Establishment kyriarchy — which is terrible enough, and this is much worse. These terrorists are declaring war on the equality-supporting mainstream culture and murdering American citizens right in our homeland!! Time will tell if our society and Establishment will recognize this and act accordingly. If our government and society are willing to hunt down and eliminate terrorists in other countries, will we rally to do the same here for our American citizens of color??!??! This is ALL OF OUR PROBLEM. How many more massacres will America simply roll over and accept?
Activist/ally Tim Wise writes:
“The racism, the white supremacy, the sense of white entitlement manifested by this young man (as evidenced by his claim that black folks were taking over “our” white country) is woven into the very DNA of this nation. It was there in the very amniotic sac that birthed America. It has been the backbeat of everything that has happened since. There hasn’t been one day that this country didn’t operate under the implicit if not explicit assumption that it was for white people, and whatever folks of color we allowed to exist among us. There hasn’t been one day in this country’s history when the message was made clear that [we need] #BlackLivesMatter. Not one day that the institutional realities in this country were at odds with the evil meted out by this young man. He may have acted in a more extreme and visceral way, but make no mistake, this country sends the message every day, from its schools to its police forces, that black lives are expendable; that “they” are persons to be controlled on behalf of “us.” This terrorist, this murderer is not foreign to you America. He is not a stranger. Not an interloper. He is your son. Nurtured in your home. Our home. He is us. And he learned your lessons well, sadly.”
[Charleston murderer] told police that he “almost didn’t go through with it because everyone was so nice to him” … yet he decided he had to “go through with his mission.”
Again I say: THIS IS AN ACT OF WAR. Seriously… he and others see themselves as soldiers in a literal war. He is not acting alone. When is American government and culture going to recognize that this is a terrorist network murdering American citizens on our own soil and act accordingly? This is not about ISIS, or Al-Queda coming here. Terrorists are here. They are acting. This is exactly like bombing a cafe in Israel, or the IRA bombings in Belfast. This is what terrorists do.
Charleston was not the first such attack and it’s not the last. Our justice system only finds and punishes individual operatives — and there have been many now; we can name them if you want — but there surely is a whole network we don’t see!!!
Look, if we expect moderate Muslims (here and abroad) to openly condemn extremist Islamists — why do we not call for moderate White Christians to openly condemn (and pursue, and eliminate) extremist White Christianist terrorists??? White people, straight people and Christian people are NOT all terrorists, any more than all Muslims are! But in this country, the white Christian-identifying majority population doesn’t want to recognize the serious connection among the terrorist attacks we have seen on our soil, because they don’t want to feel an uncomfortable familiarity. It’s easier to “other” the enemy — he’s mentally ill, he’s a lone wolf — than recognize that he is US.
Yes, sometimes mental illness is an actual factor. But not always, and not as often as it’s ascribed. Every time a political leader says “we can’t understand what really happened” it mocks basic intelligence. Yes we can understand, and we must! It ain’t pretty but neither is a church, or temple, or a gay bar, full of corpses. HOW MANY MASSACRES??
Also, let me head off some #notallWhites or #notallChristians or whatever: I am not saying whites=racists or whites=homophobes or even homophobes = racists, or vice versa or whatever. I am saying there is a white Christian supremacist thread connecting racist terrorism, anti-immigrant terrorism, and anti-gay terrorism. The men who blow up places where marginalized people gather don’t see those victims as people because their (sub)culture devalues anything that’s not conservative, white, Christian and male. Lots of Americans of all demographics commit *crimes,* OK, but it’s really mostly homophobic white supremacist younger men who commit *terrorism.* We have to stop ignoring this, because by ignoring it, we allow it.
AND before this other potential derailment is attempted: I feel compelled to point out that I am highly aware that not all shootings are terrorist in nature. Not even all mass shootings. And not all shootings are mass shootings (not by a very very wide margin). This is not a rant about gun control, gun violence, the military, the police, the militarization of police, or any number of gun-related issues. Obviously I can, have and will rant about all kinds of gun stuff. No, today, I kept this particular rant limited in scope to say, “We are experiencing terrorism. Let’s call it that. Let’s recognize who is committing obvious terrorism. Let’s address that. Let’s act on these established facts. Let’s not pretend, demur, avoid, dogwhistle, distract, protect, deny. No longer.”