I haven’t written about the massacre in Charleston. I haven’t processed it, either, but just ignoring it seems somehow shameful.

Regular readers of this blog know that there are numerous elements of the world we occupy that concern and (too frequently) enrage me. Willful ignorance leading to bad public policies, rampant anti-intellectualism, the loss of a responsible media…it’s a long list.

America’s inability to overcome our deeply entrenched racism, however, is at the top of that list.

I’m seventy-three years old. I’ve seen overt racism decline substantially over my lifetime. We passed civil rights laws. Nice people stopped telling racist jokes at cocktail parties. Intermarriages increased and disapproval of those unions decreased. We prepared to elect a biracial President. It seemed that the arc of history was–in Martin Luther King’s words–bending toward justice.

Then Barack Obama was elected, and overt racism came roaring back.

All the old white guys (and let’s be honest, plenty of old white gals) who’d been trying to cope with the fact that their lives hadn’t turned out the way they’d hoped, who’d been getting up each morning to a world in which they were no longer automatically superior simply by virtue of their skin color, suddenly had a black President. And they just couldn’t handle it.

The rocks lifted. The nastiness, the resentment, the smallness oozed out.

The internet “jokes,” the Fox News dog-whistles, the political pandering that barely tries to camouflage its racial animus–they’ve all contributed to a new-old social norm in which racism is winked at, and if noticed at all, justified with urban legends about African-Americans and outright lies about the President.

Every inadequate excuse for a human being who has forwarded a vile email about the President and his family, every gun nut claiming that people wouldn’t have been killed if only the pastor had been armed (in church!), every snide “commentator” who has spent the last six years making a nice living by playing to racist stereotypes–every one of them created the culture within which this terrorist acted. Every one of them is a co-conspirator in this mass murder.

And don’t get me started on a culture that lets any man insecure in his masculinity–no matter how mentally ill, no matter how demonstrably violent– substitute a deadly weapon for that missing piece of his anatomy.


  1. FYI, I’m 68, grew up in Baton Rouge during segregation, and live there now. You had me until “Every one of them is a co-conspirator in this mass murder.”

    Determining the cause of bad events and blaming everyone in firing range is plenty human. And dumb. And largely useless.

    No matter how stupid, obtuse, bigoted, clueless, etc, etc you consider rednecks waving the “Confederate” flag to be – and by all means heap scorn on them all you want – the vast majority did nothing material to facilitate the Charlestom massacre and did not desire such an event. The blame rests with the purpetrator himself and when, in frustration at our seeming inability to prevent such events, you throw mud at everyone you don’t like, you confuse the issue and inject noise into the conversation.

    The two external factors that truly facilitate these events are: (1) our ridiculously liberal policies toward gun ownership and (2) the wall-to-wall news coverage and fame these narcissistic sociopaths receive for their exploits.

  2. @Ron

    The perpetrator in the Charleston massacre was much more than just a “narcissistic sociopath.” He is a RACIST, narcissistic sociopath which makes Sheila’s statement that “Every one of them is a co-conspirator in this mass murder” very rational.

    But unfortunately, as a former federal and state prosecutor, they would not be prosecuted for murder. Nevertheless, if I was the prosecutor in this case I would try to find a way to have “every one of them” listed as an UN-INDICTED co-conspirator.

    As a matter of fact, in the late 80’s I did run for the District Attorney for Dallas County, Texas as a Republican. I pulled out early and gave my support which was limited to approximately 33% of the voters to my friend John Vance who then asked me to take over as his campaign manager. With my portion of the voters combined with his, he became the Republican District Attorney without the endorsement of the Republican Party. He was to honest for that to take place.

  3. Ted’s argument, summarized:

    There wasn’t any racism until that dam neeegra got put in the White House! He works with other neeegras to hold decent white people down! Dam lieburuls are the real racists, because they train the neeegras to stay on welfare rather than make a decent living! Lieburuls are always the cause of all bad things! And if you disagree it just proves I’m right, so there!

  4. A thought and reminder for “Ron” from Baton Rouge…we are complicit when we see wrong and injustice but suffer it to fester. “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

  5. Marv Kramer: I may have been mistaken; I thought this conversation alluded to more than just the Charleston murders. In my lifetime we’ve had “senseless” mass murders over race by both blacks and whites, over sex, over religion, over politics, and over seemingly nothing at all beyond the killers wanting to share their disappointment with life. But I suppose the Charleston racist outrage is especially and agreeably non-PC and so particularly amenable to chest beating by the left, so have at it. I’m in the political middle.

    I’m more interested in what these mass murderers have in common. IMO it’s not insanity and it’s not their perverse beliefs so much as it’s a pathological need for attention and a lack of empathy for others. The news media has voluntarily decided in recent years not to publish the names of sexual assault victims to protect them from unwanted attention from the general public. I wish they would refrain from publishing in the general press the names, photos, and philosophies of mass murderers to deny them the notoriety they seek and protect the rest of us.

    As I said earlier, outlawing high firepower guns in civilian hands would be a rational step as well.

    On another note, I have a question since my legal education consists only of one survey course plus many dozen episodes of “Law and Order”: What good would come from listing as unindicted co-conspirators the bigots who own the racist website(s) that reportedly influenced the killer? They of course eschew any knowledge of the perp and condemn the massacre. If they are unindicted, they cannot be tried, sentenced, and punished, I assume. And these people cannot be embarrassed by disapprobation by normal humans; they probably revel in it. Wouldn’t they just give you the one-finger salute and continue business as usual?

  6. Ron,

    Sorry, you’re wrong again,. I’m afraid they would give me a lot more than a “one-finger salute”. Take a look at what happened to Marvin Kramer the attorney in John Grisham’s “The Chamber.”

    Mr. Grisham is a lot more than what he appears to be. And it ain’t all good.

  7. “The Chamber” has an underlying code that is directed at me. It’ similar to the one used by novelist Agatha Christie in her book “Then There Were None.” It’s no coincidence that the “radical Jew lawyer” on the 1st page has his law practice in Greenville. So did I .

    The only difference is that my practice was in Greenville in East Texas and Grisham’s character’s law practice was in Greenville, Mississippi. That was good for a starter.

    There are approximately a dozen other coded messages in the book.

    It was published in direct retaliation for the deep political information contained in my essay “Democracide: The Far Rights Path to Power.”

  8. “Democracide: The Far Right’s Path to Power” was published in 1993. “The Chamber” a year later in 1994.

    The threat of assassination is continuous. “The Chamber” was the 7th largest seller in the world for the decade of the 90’s. How many copies do you think are still out there?

  9. Sheila’s commentary is quite an exaggeration. Most of the opposition to the president’s policies are due to those policies and have nothing to do with his race. She is imagining much more racism than what actually exists. We who oppose the president’s policies would be just as strongly opposed if those policies were advanced by Al Gore or Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi. I do not deny that racism exists, but Sheila seems to want to color way too much through a lens of racism. President Obama is by far the most radical President of our generation, and the opposition is to his radical agenda, not his heritage.

  10. OK Rick, name his “Radical Policies”. I ask because I want to have a blast pointing out most of them come directly from the conservative playbook of just a few years back.

    I dare you to list them. In order of most to least radical.

  11. BTW Rick, it’s not that she colors so much trough the lens of Racism. The Sad fact is, you don’t see through the lens at all. How could you. A goldfish doesn’t know it’s in a fish bowl. We see you, but you have no awareness of the world outside that bowl. Have fun with your list. We’re awaiting bemused.

  12. @Martin

    Thanks! for saving me the time to respond to Rick. From the beginning , President Obama was never given an “inch.”

    He was welcomed into office with the Tea Party. Who are we kidding?

  13. The goal of the man who murdered the people in the church in Charleston was to start a race war. Instead of achieving that goal, the horror triggered a coming together of races. Hopefully some long lasting good will come out of the tragedy.

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