Death At The Hands Of Hate

Who, at this point, can feign surprise at this latest massacre when it sits at the nexus of so much that is familiar and perfectly in line with the U.S. that we know? We are a country where mass shootings are weekly news, where gun violence is a fact of daily life, where there is a legacy of terror against black people and communities, where white racists have long targeted black churches, where African-American life is so devalued it can be taken with impunity - Kali Holloway

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Last week witnessed the hate fuelled annihilation in Charleston of nine churchgoers during the course of their bible study class in the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Charleston is in the state of South Carolina,
where the Confederate flag still flies from the capitol dome, certainly not in solidarity with the dead but as an emblem of the mindset that killed them. The slaying is no less heinous than the murderous Paris attack in January this year on the staff of Charlie Hebdo.

Then, theocratic fascists massacred a group of cartoonists at work. Now a white fascist slaughters a group of black people at prayer. Unlike the attack in Paris there seems to be a fairly muffled venting of the T word in the public discourse. Racist killer Dylan Roof is being described in news outlets as “quiet and soft-spoken;” called a lot of things, but a terrorist is not the label the media seem eager to stick on him.  Chauncey DeVega lays it out:

Black America is disgusted by how media will, as it always does, depict Dylann Roof as a lone shooter with mental health issues, as they humanize him in order to put the murderous violence in some type of context. By comparison, the American corporate news media is not neutral in how it depicts white criminals as compared to blacks, Latinos, Asians, First Nations Peoples, Arabs, or Muslims.

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is one of the Oldest African Methodist churches of its sort south of Baltimore. It is steeped in Afro-American culture and history, reflecting  "the development of religious institutions for African Americans in Charleston". One of the founding members of the church was Denmark Vesey. He was hanged in the 1820s for allegedly organising a slave insurrection in Charleston. The church was subsequently burned, which underscores the point that this is not the first attack on black churches: “hate crimes and terrorist attacks ... have targeted their places of worship for generations.”  One of the most notorious was the Ku Klux Klan multiple murder of four black children in the course of a bomb attack on the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Alabama, a couple of months prior to the assassination of President John F Kennedy.  Dylann Roof is Robert Chambliss fast forwarded. A white supremacist terrorist, nothing less. 

The racism that so propelled Roof along a trajectory of hatred:

does not come out of a void. He also inherited it from the long-standing and violent presence of the KKK in the United States; he inherited it from a Confederacy of states who intended to maintain an economy on race-based slavery; he inherited it from five centuries of colonialism that built empires upon the backs of Africans in forced diaspora and cultural genocide; he inherited it from systemic racism that continues to lurch through American society in covert ways, in language and collective denial. Dylann Roof is in no way a lone wolf. He is the amalgamation of American racial hatred that is still alive and well.

It is alive and well in the names of black dead: names like Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Walter Lamer Scott.

Although "Dylann Roof and the Kouachi brothers committed the exact same crime"
I doubt very much that we will see the leaders of so called free world marching through the streets, arms linked to war criminals like Bibi Netanyahu, protesting the murder. Yes, it will be condemned but just not as stridently. The Boston shutdown after the marathon attack two years ago seems another time, another place. Maybe the skin colour of those doing the killing makes a difference when these sort of things are being evaluated. Alternatively, maybe the skin colour of those being killed is the determining factor. Whatever it is, black lives matter but not always it seems as much as white lives.


  1. Although "Dylann Roof and the Kouachi brothers committed the exact same crime"
    I doubt very much that we will see the leaders of so called free world marching through the streets, arms linked to war criminals like Bibi Netanyahu, protesting the murder.

    I doubt very much we will see gentle hints from major newspapers or even the pope that the victims of Charleston had somehow provoked their attacker resulting in their deaths. I doubt very much that people will ignore the shooters racist manifesto, his stated reasons for carrying out the atrocity, and project more benign reasons for what he did either.

  2. Colour and religion matter when it comes to victims and perpetrators and none more so than in the USA. If the victims had been Jewish, we would certainly have heard more about it from Netanyahu and the other 'world leaders'.....reminds me of Darkley....some may perceive that murderous attack in the same terms and may condemn those who carried it out in the same manner as Roof for Charleston but others remain silent on those who carried out Darkley and even quietly condone Roof who most likely viewed the Charleston church goers as simply 'niggers' those who carried out Darkley and those who condoned that action saw only a bunch of orange bastards....there is a lot of our own past actions that need a rethink especially now that the Brits have been fully exposed for their murderous campaign here....just who is responsible for what is no longer clear cut.
    Also, it's strange that Roof is described as having mental issues....the fact that he is just a by-product of a racial society who holds little value for the lives of black people couldn't possibly be a reason for his actions....just like Nuala O'Loan, who described some of the murderers killing on behalf of Britain as psychopaths....rubbish, when you're raised to view the lives of 'katolics' having less a value than your own and when you're given a license to kill them, free from prosecution, you're not a're just like Roof....a by-product of your culture...Unionist culture.

  3. Niall,

    interesting observation about Darkley. The only difference (and certainly not a mitigating one) was fewer died in Darkley.

    I think O'Loan is right about psychopaths. They are drawn to the militaries and militias of the world. You are right to broaden context but we can never rule out space for the type of character O'Loan is talking about. And it makes the Brits even more culpable - using such people for their work. I have met a few psychopaths on our side too.

  4. AM,
    Met some of those people you speak of myself but I often wondered are they psychotic or just a combination of factors such as egotism and deep rooted sectarianism with hate dominating.
    I've also wondered, what do we do with them when there is no longer an avenue for them to quench their thirst. It's strange that they, being psychopaths haven't chosen other outlets within this non-combatant society now to express themselves. I thought that there would be a quiet lull after the ceasefires only to be followed by a heightening in killings as they went back to work without the reins to control them.....Haddock seems to have been the only one who continued on but even he kept it to a minimum....hard to fathom such control within a deranged mind.

  5. Niall,

    it is an interesting one for sure. I guess wars allow it to be acted out. I have heard people speculating said that Blair Mayne of the SAS during WW2 was a psychopath who behaved violently or rambunctiously after the war but never took to killing people. I think psychopaths are as calculating as the rest of us and experience risk aversion in that sense.

  6. Blair Mayne...mmmmmm...forgot about him...interesting character....his behaviour after the war was out of control at times and all fueled with drink...I think there was more to his irrational and violent behaviour, and it was violent and he showed complete disregard for the law...the law was for others to follow by.... as he didn't seem to cope with normal life and somewhat missed the the war he was something and he understood the necessity to kill the enemy.....there was no enemy afterwards but afterwards he was back being a civie...hard to let go of that and settle back in doubt there were countless others like him....thank fuck he didn't join the RUC!!!!!!

  7. CNN news is calling it a terrorist act and refusing to name the shooter. Refusing to give him publicity.