South Carolina Massacre and The Hate That Produced Dylan Roof

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Some Republican recipients of donations from Council of Conservative Citizens:Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

South Carolina politicians are now debating whether they should remove the Confederate Flag from the state capitol, in the wake of Dylan Roof’s deadly carnage at the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, which left 9 Black people dead.The removal of this vestige of Slavery is surely a welcome endeavor, since this flag has been a symbol of hatred and terrorism against African-Americans.

But do Republicans think removing the Confederate Flag will somehow be enough to stop the resurgent charge of white supremacist racism, exemplified by the murderous actions of Dylan Roof, especially in the “age of President Obama,” when these same Republican politicians are often busy pushing politically racist agendas in these statehouses and on Capitol Hill?

To witness the push of these Republicans now trying to legislate the removal of the Confederate Flag has been truly extraordinary. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who only a few years ago was still defending its use, is now among those leading the charge to remove this racist symbol.

But after this flag is removed will these Republicans cease and desist in legislating the kind of racist agendas that the Confederate Flag represent? Will they stop characterizing Welfare and Food Stamps as moocher programs for African-Americans, who don’t want to work? Will they stop their voter-suppression agendas? Will they deal with the policies that target Blacks for arrests and mass incarceration?

The murderous actions of Dylan Roof was an obviously racist repugnant act. But Roof is a product of his environment and that environment was nurtured by some of these same politicians who are now trying to distance themselves from him. Roof killed African-Americans with his gun, but what about those who are killing Black people with legislation that increases poverty, discrimination and exclusion?

Governor Chris Christie made some important comments last Sunday at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in New Jersey, regarding the racism exhibited by Roof. “If we’re going to try to understand it, we have to talk about it and we have to talk honestly about it,” Christie said. “This hate didn’t come from nowhere. This hate didn’t just appear out of the sky. This hate comes from an awful place and this hate is born of racism.”

While Governor Christie should be applauded for these comments, politicians like him often conveniently overlook their conduct in perpetuating that hate. The Republican Party with their “Southern Strategy,” and dog-whistle politics, is also culpable for creating the kind of racist environment that someone like Dylan Roof crawled out of. Republicans, so-called “conservatives” and other Americans—like those who are considered “progressive” Whites—all need to take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are doing everything in their power to discourage the kind of hate that created Dylan Roof.

For the last seven years, Republicans, by and large, have acted like President Barack Obama is the human manifestation of Satan coming to take America to hell. We’ve all heard the comments about “taking my country back” and whatnot. Taking the country back where? Back to the days of Jim Crow segregation?

Why do Republicans and “conservatives” feel they have to demonize this president as some sort of unworthy usurper? Are they not able to express disagreement without accusing President Obama of being an illegal alien non-citizen? But then again, isn’t the hate against President Obama really representative of the larger hate against Black America?

For months now, the issue of racist police brutality and murder has been a constant in the news. Why is it that those lambasting Roof’s actions so silent about similar tendencies that are present in police departments? Let’s remember, in South Carolina Officer Michael Slager shot down Walter Scott, as he was running away. Do we really want to delude ourselves into thinking there is a major difference between the mindset of Slager and Roof?

Keep in mind, the recent stories of police officers who have been sending racist text messages, e-mails, and who are members of the Klan and other racist groups. In San Francisco, considered to be a “progressive” city, there has been an investigation into racist texts that were being sent by officers there that included calls to lynch all African-Americans. One text also said “It’s not against the law to put an animal down.”

In Miami, the state attorney is now reviewing over 150 cases connected to several police officers whose racist e-mails, and disgraceful video made mocking Black people, were discovered—two high-ranking officers, including a former police captain, are among the officers. One e-mail included a joke about President Obama being born in a Kentucky Fried bucket. Another e-mail talked about getting drunk and “killing niggers.”

How many more despicable creatures like these do we have walking around as police officers?

Similar texts have been found in other police departments including in Ferguson, Missouri where Officer Darren Wilson killed 18-year-old Michael Brown after he claimed the “Hulk” like young man made him “fearful” for his life. Given the fact the Justice Department fingered officials in Ferguson for racial profiling in the policing and courts, it is not ridiculous to believe what the activist group Anonymous said: that Officer Darren Wilson and others in the Ferguson Police Department are connected to the Klan.

Last summer, reports emerged that two officers, Deputy Chief David Borst and Officer George Hunnewell, from the Fruitland Park Police were members of the Klan. The wife of Hunnewell claimed he was working undercover to infiltrate the Klan, but, that assertion was debunked. Officer Hunnewell was fired and Deputy Chief Borst resigned. In 2009, Officer James Elkins, also from the Fruitland Park Police resigned after photos of him in Klan regalia were discovered—he later admitted he was a leader of the local Klan. In 2008, in Nebraska Officer Robert E. Henderson was fired for being a member of the Klan-affiliated Knights Party.

Here’s a question to ponder: how many of these police departments have been infiltrated by the Klan, other white supremacist racist groups?

The current conversation regarding race taking place in the wake of these gruesome murders in South Carolina demands a more comprehensive response than just removing one symbol of hate.  Yes, the Confederate Flag should be removed, but that is not going to be nearly enough to eradicate the hate that produced Dylan Roof. When will Republicans cleanse themselves of their racist affiliations?

We know Roof was a fan and got much “direction” form the White Citizens’ Council—now called the Council of Conservative Citizens. The White Citizens Council arose as a resistance movement to the Civil Rights Movement, in particular after the historic landmark 1954 Brown v Board of Education case decision desegregating public schools. One of the most infamous members of this group was Byron De La Beckwith: the man who murdered Medgar Evers, field secretary of the Mississippi NAACP—and a WWII veteran.

Ironically, this racist group that influenced Roof is also connected to many Republican politicians past and present. Past Republican politicians like Trent Lott, Jesse Helms, David Duke and Bob Barr have been connected to them. But there are many current Republican politicians—including some who are running for president in 2016—that are connected to the White Citizens Council, including receiving donations. They include: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Governor Haley Barbour, Roger Wicker, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker, Michele Bachmann, Steve King, Louie Gohmert, Richard Mourdock and Tom Cotton, just to name a few.

Keep in mind, these are supposed to be responsible Republican leaders. Some in the glare of the media spotlight are giving donations back. But are these politicians pretending they didn’t know this is a historic hate group that organized over the years against the sons and daughters of Slaves?

Dylan Roof deserves all the denunciations he gets. But what about politicians who break bread with racists?

Roof is only a product of the hate that white supremacy produced. And while we denounce him let us not forget those who taught him how to hate.

 

 

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