The 1st Thread For 6/22/15: Denial of White Terrorism And How Charleston Isn't an Attack on Christians

Denial of reality can be an alarming, misguided practice that a person can willingly partake on oneself. It is a conspicuous moment revealing how individuals are fully insecure with accepting the truths that they don’t want to embrace, tormenting themselves into a place of a dangerously false universe. Denial is a toxic behavior, and it has long been prevalent in America’s constant struggle with its racist characteristics, long before it became a union and in the current aftermath of its formation two centuries after. The tragic assassination of nine black people at the hands of a 21-year-old white terrorist has sparked another episode of racist denial, not only from conservative Caucasian Americans but even some notable white figures outside the right-wing spectrum.

Shifting the focus off racism as the main reason for Dylann Roof’s devilish acts, some quickly attributed the shooting deaths to being simply an attack on Christianity.  Leading in that chorus of denial unsurprisingly was the folks apart of the Rupert Murdoch empire. Fox & Friends added to their endless list of inane segments by hosting a conservative black pastor who insinuated the mass murdering as a “rising hostility against Christians across this country because of our Biblical views.” (In addition, that same Pastor, E.W. Jackson, shepherded the unhinged idea of churches arming themselves in the wake of the attack.) That prompted the usually deranged co-host Steve Doocy to be in disbelief at the crime being labeled as racially driven. “It was released earlier, extraordinarily, as a hate crime,” Doocy said.  

Continuing in that same peculiar trail of thinking was Presidential hopeful and proverbial war monger Lindsey Graham. Appearing on ABC’s The View, the South Carolina Republican Senator was obviously disturbed at the latest tragic events that took place in his state. But he quickly described Roof with the same characteristics usually bestowed to only white mass murderers and not Muslims, Hispanics or black troubled individuals: He was disturbed, he was a loner wolf and he wasn’t a terrorist. He continued on by saying Roof’s actions was not indicative of South Carolina as a whole, a stunning irony considering its white supremacist history and still glaring obsession with keeping its confederate flag as its symbol. When asked by new co-host Raven Simeone if the tragedy was hate crime motivated or mentally disturbed, Graham could only muster “both” and that Roof was “just whacked out.” It was a startling contrast from how Graham never hesitates when seeing any Muslim involved in any crime, calling “terrorism” at the blink of his jihad eye whenever he sees or hear an Islamic name. 

Probably the grossest denial of white racism to describe Roof’s brutality, however, came from rising conservative pundit and Miami Herald columnist AJ Delgado. To the amazement of most following her on Twitter, Delgado immediately questioned whether Roof was Caucasian after seeing the images from the surveillance video showing his entrance into the church. “Sorry, am I the only one who isn’t seeing a “white male? I know media wants to run a racial angle here but this guy doesn’t look white?” she brazenly wrote. Delgado followed it up with another tweet so ridiculous that it made one question how she has been worthy to be on an intelligent show such as “All in with Chris Hayes?” “None of this story adds up,” she wrote. “Even if a ‘white supremacist,’ their targets/hatred isn’t usually church-going African-Americans.”  The Ku Klux Khan probably could not find a better candidate for a press secretary position than Delgado presented herself as with her elementary school view on white racism. 

These three views from Doocy, Graham and Delgado came despite the news already surfacing for hours of the AME Church surviving person indicating the chilling words that Roof told his victims before their sad deaths. “I have to do it,” Roof allegedly said, as reported by a cousin of a fortunate survivor relying a message from another present during the tragedy. “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” That report preceded a bevy of information after Roof was identified that shows him embracing apartheid nations South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), along with “The Confederate States of America.” Later, one of Roof’s friends since the ninth grade stated that Roof had a history of telling racist jokes and recently talked about how segregation needed to return because of his belief that “blacks are dominating now.”  If all of those details still could not convince you to label it a “hate crime” (and Roof as a terrorist), then you probably would struggle to believe that grass is green, that the sky is blue, and that two plus two equals four. 

Even some non-conservative outlets couldn’t muster up the courage to say the obvious. The prominent liberal blog Emptywheel featured a post railing against the idea of labeling the Charleston massacre a hate crime, calling it “bogus” and “hyperbole.” Salon staff writer Mary Williams, despite the appropriate title, wasted an opportunity to slap down the absurd “Christianity was attacked” argument from the Fox & Friends segment, letting it go unchallenged by writing a non sequitur about immigration instead. CNN morning show anchor Chris Cuomo followed a similar script of disbelief that Delgado fell under, literally writing that Roof “possibly” was not white. Like Delgado, Cuomo proceeded to delete one of the worst tweets of 2015. Unlike Delgado’s cowardly decision to delete her full account, Cuomo however has kept his up for the time being. 

Although nowhere near as egregious as Doocy, Graham and especially Delgado’s statements, that lack of clinical confirmation that this was pure racism from notable figures, even on the white left, shows how much progress we still have still left to do as a country to be fully accountable for the crimes against black people. And as a black person born and raised in this country, I frankly believe we will never reach that point of having racial common sense. If we haven’t gotten it after slavery, segregation and other suffering, then what makes you think we truly will?      

Denial is a scary thing, a failure for a person to reconcile with the fact that a painful truth must be accepted. But it becomes a massive threat to a society as a whole when the denial is deeply systematic, analogous to American racism. It does no one good, and only creates more American nightmares, where black victims are again held hostage, or given worse, by the deadly shackles of white supremacy. 
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