The murder of nine people in Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston has left me sick and stunned, as it has left many of you. And what I needed badly, over the last two days, was national unity. But I didn't get it. Apparently, we're too divided as a nation to band together after a terrorist attack. We're so divided that some of us won't admit that the terrorist had the motives that he clearly proclaimed. Apparently, there are sides to take in everything, even this.
Some people - not just twits and trolls on the Internet but prominent public figures - refuse to admit that the Charleston murder was motivated by race. Or they admit it only reluctantly, after previous evasions. That includes people running for President of the United States. I find that outrageous. And I find it menacing. Why give a terrorist political cover?
The Charleston killer isn't some garden-variety, sends-around-racist-e-mail racist. He's a full-on white supremacist. He publicly displayed a photo of himself wearing the flags of two white-supremacist governments, Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa, suggesting he's so racist that he resents blacks being allowed to vote in Africa. He told his roommate he believed in "segregation." He selected a historic black church that had been a center of both the anti-slavery and civil rights movements, and he attacked it on the anniversary of a failed slave uprising led by one of the church's founders. Apparently he wasn't forgiven Mother Emanuel AME for the abolition of slavery. He stood up and made a racist rant before he started shooting. But today, Jeb Bush -- Jeb Bush! -- says that he doesn't know if the killer was racially motivated.
Yes, you do, Jeb. You know. Just like everyone on Fox News knows. Just like Nikki Haley and Lindsay Graham knew yesterday, before they could bring themselves to say the words "hate crime" today, when Haley was talking about how we would "never know" the killer's motivations. You know. Why can't you say it?
Do you need hard-core racists' votes (or hard-core racist viewers) so badly that you're afraid of speaking out any racism, no matter how extreme?
Do you see race in America as an us-vs-them game, in which any acknowledgement of black suffering somehow takes something away from whites?
Do you actually think this murderer is so close to you ideologically that his crimes discredit you? How ideologically close to him ARE you?
Are you actually afraid that taking action against racist violence will mean losing something you want to keep, or that your supporters want to keep?
Are there steps law enforcement could take against this kind of violence that you don't want them to take? Why the hell not?
If those questions seem tough, well, you had a simple question with an obvious answer and you blew it. When you couldn't or wouldn't admit what was in front of your face, it made me wonder why not. When an extremist commits a crime for obvious racist reasons, refusing to admit that racism was the motive means letting racism itself off the hook. And excusing the ideology means leaving the door open for the next act of ideological terrorism. What I hear you saying is that this crime was awful but that you don't want to prevent the next one. And that scares the bejesus out of me.
cross-posted from and comments welcome at dagblog