No matter what exactly the problems are with this country, we’ve certainly got ‘em.
The tragic news from Charleston last week about the Emmanuel A.M.E. Church shooting shook America to its core. All of sudden we weren’t slipping into summer and talking the usual gab around the water coolerwhile a ridiculous field of presidential candidates got bigger. Instead, the desperate and despicable actions of a 21-year-old psychopath made everyone question everything - a process that happened in real time in the media and on social media as well. Over the course of the last week, we’ve seen the full range of reactions to the A.M.E. shooting on television and our computers - some reactions have been ignorant, others indifferent, but most of them have taken on the situation and looked for ways for our country to move forward.
Most Americans - and even some Republican presidential candidates - have recognized that this was certainly a racially-motivated attack. The alleged killer had a racist manifesto and even said he wanted to “kill black people” before doing just that. The fact that a 21-year-old kid in Charleston could reportedly still harbor racist feelings like these in 2015 and actually act violently upon them seemed unthinkable. Of course, some conservative media outlets, like a pundit at Fox News, tried to say that because these murders happened in a church, they were somehow about faith. Thankfully many othermedia outletscalled him out on it - Larry Wilmore’s commentary was particularly good - as it is somewhat jaw-dropping (but not all surprising) to see a Fox anchor go to such lengths to spin such a horrible tragedy. At the end of the day, the only religiously-motivated aspect of this shooting was that it happened in a church, and that’s it.
And while I do support the right for dumb racists to have whatever flags they want in their homes, those kinds of people love these flags because of the hate they represent, and a flag like it shouldn’t be on top of a government building.
The other interesting element thrown around in the blame game has been the Confederate flag. The flag is obviously a symbol of the old South, but it’s also one with a history of racial violence and oppression, and the A.M.E. shooter reportedly idolized that dumb ol’ flag. Many people have since pointed out that the flag also belongs to a losing team, and even some of the flag’s most stalwart defenders have now come forward to say it needs to come down. The flag honestly is a symbol of hate and racial violence and I think even equivalent to the Nazi flag. And while I do support the right for dumb racists to have whatever flags they want in their homes, those kinds of people love these flags because of the hate they represent, and a flag like it shouldn’t be on top of a government building. For some of South Carolina’s top elected officials to now call for the Confederate flag to be removed from the statehouse is extremely appropriate.
Of course, the other thing to blame in this senseless attack was the weapon itself. Gun control immediately became a topic of national conversation again, with Obama eagerly pressing the issue once more in his comments on the tragedy last week. But there are certainly others in the African-American community who are now pushing the other side of the issue, one that comes up anytime there is mass killing at a school or movie theater or other gun-free zone -- maybe it’s time for people to arm themselves. The most notable proponent of this argument was the rapper Killer Mike, who declared on Twitter that he wished “those folks in that church had been armed.” I don’t think Killer Mike is out of line here - he went on to explain in the Twitter arguments that followed how the shooter wouldn’t have attacked a “black biker gang” or a “NRA meeting” because if he knew he would face return fire, “that coward wud never have attacked.” It’s definitely interesting to now hear someone else say what the NRA has always said -- that the “only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
Let’s just hope there aren’t any more young white men out there like him who act on their hate in such a violent manner.
The shooting in Charleston has certainly been a reality check for America. It’s also sad to note that if the alleged killer had waited ten years and became a cop, he potentially could’ve gotten away with his desires to “kill black people” - as we’ve seen some cops almost get away with the same thing for a while now. Let’s just hope there aren’t any more young white men out there like him who act on their hate in such a violent manner. Because no matter if this was an attack on race or faith or if a flag or guns are to blame, we all must work together to ensure shit like this doesn’t ever happen again. It’s 2015 - and as a nation, we are better than this.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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