What is wrong with our country? What about our culture makes someone think it is somehow okay to kill innocent civilians inside of a house of worship? Why does this happen so much in the US? President Obama is right, he has addressed the country after mass shootings too many times: 14 times to be exact, 14.
I used to think it was all about guns. Limit access to guns and you limit these events. And while I still feel that is somewhat true, I think the issue is much, MUCH larger and needs to be addressed. The gun used in Charleston was a legally obtained gun. The gunman reloaded five times because he was not using a high capacity clip. A clip that would have been illegal under the Bush era assault rifle bill. Even if Obama, who is softer on gun control than his predecessors, were as tough on guns as previous administrations.
What happened in Charleston was race related pure and simple. The gunman had a Confederate States of America tag on the front of his car, is wearing a pro-apartheid shirt in his Facebook profile picture, and picked Emanuel AME Church to carry out his attack. The church is two hours from his home and is a church which has a longer history in the civil rights movement than most churches in America, certainly a longer history than any other church in the south.
Racism is not dead. Racism is a virus, a virus that has the ability to lay dormant for years. Racism, like many other viruses, is not talked about, but like those viruses, racism spreads far quicker when it is not spoken about – when it does not see the light of day. The KKK knew this which is why they had a secret coded way of speaking to each other and the way they hid their faces. Racism, while being allowed to quietly fester, has spread like an STD throughout our country.
Racism has been consistently used against President Obama. Racism has been covered over in our own state as “history”. Today, right now, the Confederate battle flag is flying, full-staff mind you, at the South Carolina capital building. Can you imagine a Nazi flag flying at the German capital because it is part of “history”? Supporters of the flag are right, it is part of history, a treasonous history, but the flag did nothing to hurt anyone, it just flew. The flag is a symbol: a symbol of racism in this country. The flag is a symbol of white supremacy, which is still fends off attempts to remove it from the state capital. It is almost as if the old white men in our capital building think removing the flag somehow lets the black man win. That damn flag needs to be removed, and it needs to be removed now.
Is it any wonder people kill other people when even our politicians and media talking-heads act as if the President of the United States hates America? They act as if him having a law passed that gives everyone access to healthcare is somehow treasonous? They call him a dictator because Congress passed, by a majority, a bill they disagree with? A bill that when proposed by Republicans in the past had been supported?
Is it any wonder people kill each other when politicians put bulls-eyes on members of Congress in media images? When Donald Trump, a republican presidential candidate, says in his first speech as a candidate that Mexicans coming into the US are rapist and murderers – adding at the end that he is “sure some of them are good people”?
Donald Trump is not to blame. Barack Obama is not to blame. Politicians are not to blame. That stupid ass flag is not to blame. Grand Theft Auto is not to blame. Together, however, they all own a bit of blame. We ALL have a bit of blame. If you have ever called a white person a cracker, a black person a nigger, or a gay person a fag, you have a bit of blame because you have perpetrated hate: even if you it under the cover of a joke or the lyrics of a song.
The shooter said he felt he had to do kill these people, while reloading his gun, and said of black people: they “rape our people and are taking over our country and have to go”. Where did he hear that? In South Carolina it is fairly easy to find radio show talking heads who quietly spread this falsehood. They further claim Obama and the democrats are taking over, and that they are evil; that blacks are thugs who shoot, rape, and kill people and are to be feared. These thoughts are so carefully and subtly woven into the cloth of their shows as to be unnoticed and the view is spread around.
We need to start talking about the race issue and call out racism where we see it. Call out politicians for using inflammatory rhetoric. Call out friends for quietly helping the virus of racism spread. We need to stop being afraid to talk about issues, stop hiding things, and for God’s sake, stop flying that damn flag. We do need to have a discussion on guns; however, one that doesn’t involve the NRA or any other group of lobbyist that have a million dollar slush fund to threaten law makers.
We need to speak the truth. This thug was a racist and a terrorist. This person was evil. This person is not an anomaly though, he may be the exception to the rule, but he is not the only one. He is part of the virus that is spreading though our state like the kudzu that spreads across our fields.
I chose the image connected to this blog for a reason. It was taken June 18th, 2015 in front the South Carolina Capital. It shows the American and South Carolina flag flying at half-staff, in mourning. It also shows a symbol of racism flying high on it’s staff, proud, as if it knows one if it’s racist children has carried out a horrible crime against the Union, as if it is proud to see the Star Spangled Banner’s spirit broken.