Monday, June 22, 2015

Nothing “sticks” to white folks

“God bless us.” This is what the uncle of Dylann Storm Roof said as he hung up the phone when initially reached by the Los Angeles Times.  Perhaps that didn’t come out quite right in hindsight, because Carson Cowles would soon come to a more definitive conclusion after the full horror of what his 21-year-old nephew had done: “He’s a monster . . . and he needs to pay for what he’s done.”

Roof, who according to one friend had been plotting to start a new “civil war” by some unnamed action against blacks who he claimed were about to take over the country, an idea that has been the motivation of the likes of Timothy McVeigh and white supremacist “militia” and paramilitary groups. These domestic terrorists who are usually ignored by law enforcement and the FBI often have bizarre ideas driving their desire for a whites-only country, in the case of Roof that he believed that recent publicity over the shootings of black males by white police has the effect of emasculating the police whose purpose is to protect whites and maintain their dominance.

It was reported by that friend of Roof that a few weeks ago he seemed to be drunk raving mad, claiming that he had been planning for six months to start his war to save white people, and the friend took the gun Roof had been given as a birthday present, but returned it the next day. Two weeks later Roof walked into a prayer meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and announcing that he was there to kill black people because among other things “You rape our women and are taking over our country,” he proceeded to shoot dead nine people, including two women aged 70 and 87, escaping before being caught in North Carolina.

Roof, besides being a coward like all white supremacists are—not daring to take on, say, the residents of tough minority neighborhoods for fear they might get “hurt,” but the innocent and vulnerable—seemed to have certain issues with self-identity, having spent much of his youth in a neighborhood 90 percent black. Although he supposedly was “friendly” with some blacks, he made plain that he didn’t “identify” with them, making racist epithets and espousing segregation, which was odd, since he and the tiny minority of whites in the neighborhood and school he attended were the ones in “violation” of that code. 

After the shooting, the mayor of Charleston, Joseph Riley Jr., declared “That awful person, that terrible human being who would go into a place of worship where people were praying and kill them is now in custody, where he will always remain. In America, we don’t let bad people get away with these dastardly deeds.”

That’s funny; bad people have been doing such deeds seemingly on a monthly basis, and no one seems the wiser. What is really odd about all of this is that here we have a clearly racist individual who murdered nine peaceful people in a church, and this youthful white male, who appears rather diminutive, almost just a boy, is just a “curiosity” to the media. He isn’t being demonized or dehumanized, nobody is rioting in the streets. 

But George Zimmerman, who was a neighborhood watchman in a neighborhood that had been terrorized by home invasions, break-ins and robberies for a year, was and is demonized and dehumanized despite clear evidence he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense. The reaction to shooting had as much to do with the often poisonous relations between blacks and Hispanics, which the white media feeds, but also the seeming “indignation” over the fact that Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense was legitimate when the media and family was providing false images of an “innocent child," when Martin was clearly neither. 

Roof’s friend claimed that “He wanted to do something big, like the Trayvon Martin case”—as in Martin being “gunned down” in cold blood according to the New York Daily News; the media keeps forgetting that Zimmerman was actually acquitted of all charges, the only evidence available showing fairly conclusively that he acted in self-defense after no one responded to his calls for help—either by police who were lackadaisical in arriving or the “neighbors” he was protecting from nightly predations by “transients” with theft on their minds. By the media’s twisted logic, there is no difference between Roof and Zimmerman, or a gangsta-wannabe like Martin, and those God-fearing church people.

Far more despicably, there is no acknowledgement that white people like Roof don’t simply emerge out of thin air. They exist in an atmosphere of paranoia, prejudice, fear and racial and “ethnic” scapegoating propaganda. The media pretends it doesn’t exist, or that it doesn’t disseminate it (particularly in regard to Hispanic immigrants). It pretends that it doesn’t know that the core of Republican support is from racists and white people who believe in and practice de facto segregation. Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups may be on the fringes and ignored there, but in reality there is very little difference in principle between what they preach and right-wingers who claim to uphold “civilization,” “morality” and “ethics”—or by “liberals” whose social “idealism” ends when it comes to their front door and they have to open it. No one wants to admit that no one is innocent; it is all about some "crazy." One should never forget who is crafting the message--and who decides what to leave in, and what to leave out. That is why Zimmerman was turned into a subhuman species, while Roof is just a curiosity.

It now appears that Roof was indeed influenced by the rantings of at least one white supremacist outfit, the Council of Conservative Citizens, whose president, Earl Holt III, has donated to the campaigns of several current Republican presidential hopefuls. Roof referenced some of the group's racist claims on its website; according to the New York Times, "Mr. Holt, in a statement posted online in his name, said he was not surprised to learn that Mr. Roof had found out about 'black-on-white violent crime' from his group because, he said, it was one of the few that had the courage to disclose 'the seemingly endless incidents involving black-on-white murder./ But he said his group does not advocate violence and should not be held responsible for the shootings." 

The hypocrisy is remarkable in its audacity. Like all demographic rates, the vast majority of whites are not killed by blacks or other minorities, but by other whites; in fact, there is a slightly higher white-perpetrator to black-victim ratio than vice versa, and to say that racist propaganda doesn't influence others to violence is sheer mendacity.

The truth of the matter is that here once more we see a white person who the media tries to isolate from all others of their kind, that they share nothing in common. In this way the dark place that motivated Roof to act in the way he did doesn’t “stick” to them. And it works, because we don’t see rioting or mass protests like we see when there is a police shooting. Despite all the talk about the state of society, nobody really wants to accept that even the police act by the dictates of that society; no one is “innocent.

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