Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Problems We All Live With, Because of Racism, Because of Guns

Charleston South Carolina, last night.

In one of the worst mass shootings in the state's history, a gunman opened fire during Wednesday night services at Emanuel AME Church, one of Charleston's oldest black churches in downtown Charleston.
Eight people died at the church, and a ninth person died later at MUSC hospital, Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen said during a news conference just before 1 a.m. Thursday. The number of injured people and their conditions were not known.
Charleston police chief Gregory Mullen said he will investigate the shooting as a hate crime...

Turns out it is a hate crime.  The shooter - whom I shall not name - intentionally walked into the historic Black church (he hails from Columbia, which is a good distance from Charleston, so he went out of his way here), intentionally sat in on a prayer session, intentionally pulled out a gun, intentionally shot most of the people present, intentionally reloaded, intentionally told the surviving witnesses "I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go," and intentionally fled so he could get safely captured by police in another state.

The shooter - no, the terrorist - chose a church with vast history: formed by one of the earliest anti-slavery leaders, Denmark Vesey.  A free Black who formed the first Black church south of the Mason-Dixon, he was accused in 1822 of fomenting a slave revolt and executed on secret evidence, and after his hanging his church was destroyed.  His sons eventually rebuilt the church after the Civil War, where it became the center of African-American culture and politics in the shadow of Jim Crow and in the light of the Civil Rights movement.  The terrorist just happened to select out of the hundreds of churches in South Carolina to target, and he targeted the one with the deepest racial meaning.

This is just another day in America, isn't it?

It's just another day where Blacks get shot at, just like all the other days from Sanford and Cleveland and Ferguson and Baltimore and a hundred other cities.  It doesn't matter if I or anybody else rail about this over the years - this I wrote last year for God's sake - nobody's gonna do a goddamn thing about it, are they?

It's just another day where we have a gun massacre in our communities, regardless of it being a school or a church or a movie theater or a college campus.  It's just another day where the rights of the gun-fetishists under the Second Amendment to open-carry weapons that can kill anybody they don't like take priority over the rights of the vast majority of Americans who don't own guns yet try to peaceably assemble as due their rights under the First Amendment.

It's just another day for comment from blogger Tom Levenson at Balloon Juice:

We have a problem with guns.  It isn’t going away.  You can dig through the twitter streams and comment threads as I have, but you already know what you’ll find.  For too many Americans, the solution to our gun problem is obvious:  the answer to a bad shooter in church are good ones.  If only those at prayer had been packing, Dylann Roof wouldn’t have been able to kill more than three or four before taking a couple of hundred grains of lead to the throat in return fire. If only…
The ammosexual defense of their kink is predictable and almost certainly incorrigible.  Driven (and heavily armed) that’s a view that’s managed to hold political sway over the mushy majority for whom the notion the the liberty of the gun-sniffing few outweighs the freedom of the rest of us to assemble, travel, speak without fear of suppressing fire.  What drives that is, at least in part, the normalization of gun fetishization.  Which is what you see above.  And is what must be shamed out of the public square...
It's just another day for Charles Pierce at Esquire to rage with absolute truth:

We should speak of it as an assault on the idea of a political commonwealth, which is what it was. And we should speak of it as one more example of all of these, another link in a bloody chain of events that reaches all the way back to African wharves and Southern docks. It is not an isolated incident, not if you consider history as something alive that can live and breathe and bleed. We should speak of all these things. What happened in that church was a lot of things, but unspeakable is not one of them.
Not to think about these things is to betray the dead. Not to speak of these things is to dishonor them. Let Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, look out her window at the flag of treason that is flown proudly at her state capitol and think about these things, and speak of them, before she pronounces herself so puzzled at how something like this could happen in South Carolina, the home office of American sedition...

It's just another day, isn't it, out of the 200-plus years of our nation's history where racism and violence are part of the pride and arrogance of the haters who insist on flying a flag of treason and war over our state capitols.  In South Carolina, they've lowered the official state flag to half-mast, they've lowered the national flag - our Stars and Stripes - to half-mast, and they're still flying that goddamn Stars and Bars battle flag at full-mast.

I am with Ta-Nehisi Coates: That damned Confederate Battle Flag must come down, NOW, from every Southern state flying it.

The Confederate flag’s defenders often claim it represents “heritage not hate.” I agree—the heritage of White Supremacy was not so much birthed by hate as by the impulse toward plunder. Dylann Roof plundered nine different bodies last night, plundered nine different families of an original member, plundered nine different communities of a singular member. An entire people are poorer for his action. The flag that Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition this act—it endorses it. That the Confederate flag is the symbol of of white supremacists is evidenced by the very words of those who birthed it...
...Surely the flag’s defenders will proffer other, muddier, interpretations which allow them the luxury of looking away. In this way they honor their ancestors. Cowardice, too, is heritage. When white supremacist John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln 150 years ago, Booth’s fellow travelers did all they could to disassociate themselves. “Our disgust for the dastardly wretch can scarcely be uttered,” fumed a former governor of South Carolina, the state where secession began. Robert E. Lee’s armies took special care to enslave free blacks during their Northern campaign. But Lee claimed the assassination of the Great Emancipator was “deplorable.” Jefferson Davis believed that “it could not be regarded otherwise than as a great misfortune to the South,” and angrily denied rumors that he had greeted the news with exultation...
Moral cowardice requires choice and action. It demands that its adherents repeatedly look away, that they favor the fanciful over the plain, myth over history, the dream over the real. Here is another choice.
Take down the flag. Take it down now.

Goddamn us, as a nation.  We are led by cowards and fear-mongers who would profit from racism by making the rest of us suffer for their rage and greed and pride.

To the leaders of Florida, if that Confederate Battleflag of Treason and Race Hatred is flying over our buildings in Tallahassee or anywhere, TAKE THOSE DAMN FLAGS DOWN NOW.  To the southern states from Texas to Virginia, if any of you are flying that damn flag, SHAME ON YOU AND TAKE IT DOWN.

Back to Pierce for his closing (but not final, because Goddamn us this is going to keep happening until we face these demons of fear and wrath) thoughts:

...There is a timidity that the country can no longer afford. This was not an unthinkable act. A man may have had a rat's nest for a mind, but it was well thought out. It was a cool, considered crime, as well planned as any bank robbery or any computer fraud. If people do not want to speak of it, or think about it, it's because they do not want to follow the story where it inevitably leads. It's because they do not want to follow this crime all the way back to the mother of all American crimes, the one that Denmark Vesey gave his life to avenge. What happened on Wednesday night was a lot of things. A massacre was only one of them.

1 comment:

dinthebeast said...

Thank you for not naming the shooter. If we can't do anything about the guns, then maybe we can at least not guarantee fame to those who use them for atrocities like this one. And, of course, the next one.

-Doug in Oakland