Charleston church shooting another setback for race relations

The original wooden Emanuel AME Church

“A rash of race-related incidents across the country has brought the troubling state of relations in the U.S. front and center,” as NBC News is reporting.

“Fifty years ago it seemed racism has met its match. Perhaps the virus of racism never died; it just lay dormant, only to flair up again in new ways.”

Correspondent Harry Smith’s report is here.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

12 thoughts on “Charleston church shooting another setback for race relations”

  1. I heard on the news this morning that in many ways people are more united rather than divided over this. I hope the unity can hold up.

  2. “A white lawmaker’s decision to put a letter on the door of a black Denver church in the middle of the night in response to the South Carolina shooting and then write about it on Facebook has touched a nerve.

    “The Facebook post from Sen. Mike Johnston, a Denver Democrat, has been widely shared, with some readers posting messages that they plan to do the same.

    “Johnston had suggested in his post that white America show love to black churches.

    “’By Sunday morning America could blanket these churches with such overwhelming expressions of love that no one could walk through the doors of an AME church without feeling a flood of love and support from white men whose names they don’t know, whose faces they can’t place, but whose love they can’t ignore,’ he wrote.”

    Read the full article here:

    After South Carolina, ‘this white man,’ Sen. Mike Johnston, writes a letter to a black Denver church

  3. In doing research recently I discovered that Medicare was the biggest integration project this country has ever seen. No wonder Southerners and conservatives all around hate social insurance programs. Those programs include people of color. If you are white, you are entitled to them but how dare government include people of color. It is my observation that Americans in general are happy to deny themselves so that others are denied.
    How dare Americans elect a half black, half white man who managed to sign an ever more equalizing bill into law. The Affordable Care Act. How dare they! How dare Obama! Racism. It’s the underlying reason why the GOP was united in not voting for it after getting 98% of what they wanted in the bill.
    Dyllan Roof tore the curtain completely off the rod. He said exactly what many white GOPers believe, acted on it, and willfully chose to deny his own freedom.

  4. Another white racist male terrorist has struck at the heart of my country again. It pains me that my grandchildren have to live in a country that continues to produce this violence. I believe that the vast majority of American’s are not racist, but time and again racism raises its ugly head.
    America doesn’t need to be this way. We can do better. I’m a political person, I follow political events, I vote, and I want a better life for ALL citizens in our country. Unfortunately, money is now the loudest voice in politics in America. American’s allowed this to happen. It’s sad, but we can change it back to where people have the loudest voice. It will take a profound change in the way we, as a large, diverse population see ourselves, and how we want to be seen by others.
    When I vote in 2016 I will vote for candidates who will propose changes to the gun laws in my country, my state and my community. I will vote for federal candidates who will support new Supreme Court members that have a track record of opposing Big money in politics, who support gun safety measures that take guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t possess them. More guns are never the answer in civilized society.

  5. The actions of people like Mike Johnson are uplifting and inspiring. Think of the young black man, Tywanza Sanders, 26 years old, recently graduated from college who died attempting to convince Dylann Roof to put down his gun. Or the wife and child of Clementa Pickney hiding under a desk in his office while in the next room 9 people met their end. Or the five year old child who played dead to survive. Think of the courage it took to state “I forgive you.”

    But while we applaud these actions, and gain amazing inspiration from them, and from the life stories of those who died, we must ask ourselves what is our responsibility to speak the truth and hold our society accountable for the ills that lead to this kind of violence.

    There are three things that fundamentally trouble me about this event in addition to the senseless loss of life.

    1) This event will likely mean nothing and fail to lead to progress in the argument in our nation about guns, the availability of guns, and what many in our midst characterize as ‘gun rights.”

    2) This event was an act of overt clear, racially motivated terror, fed by a well organized network of hate groups that exist in our midst, clearly documented by both the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center, and we will not hold them, nor their apologists, accountable for their actions.

    3) The underlying cultural support for a bunch of revisionist, pro-Confederate pseudo-history will not be challenged.

    Let’s be honest, if the death of 20 white kids and the 6 adults heroically sheltering them in Newton did not move the needle on the gun debate, if the death of 88 people per day, the murder of 12 and wounding of 70 middle class theater goers, the hundreds of school shootings, the shooting of a law enforcement office in Nevada County by a separatist, did not move the needle, then the death of 9 people in a prayer circle will not move the needle.

    Let’s also call terror what it is. A 21 year old kid does not wear a Rhodesian Flag, sport Confederate regalia, where pro apartheid patches, and own a .45 cal automatic, unless a bunch of adults stood by, watched, cheered on, and allowed it to happen. It was right there for everyone to see; his friends say it, his parents father even admitted it, and his social media profile mimicked it. Hate was accepted. This kid had access to an open underground network of on-line racial hate and encouragement to act out violently, and dozens of people have to have stood by and done, said and reported nothing. The ‘lone-wolf’ is born and raised, nurtured and encouraged to be a ‘lone-wolf’.

    Finally, the meme that there was some high Constitutional principle at play that caused the Civil War, that it was anything but a racially motivated attempt to maintain domination over slaves, and extend slavery across the country, to own human beings as private property, to deny them their god given life and liberty, that it was about anything but evil bondage, is not only historically inaccurate, it is a viscous racist lie. To see people like Jeb Bush equivocate, or Nikki Haley (whose comments on the morning after the shooting were heartfelt and genuine) avoid the ‘confederate flag question; or see a well organized network of right wing thought leaders who claim to be historians (none would willingly identify themselves as intellectuals today) re-frame the Civil War as some sort of romantic struggle for ‘freedom’, makes me sick.

    I was shocked this morning to hear Melissa Harris-Perry quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s remarks after the 1963 church bombing that, “…we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.” I have been thinking about that quote over the last couple of days, partly because I remembered my father quoting this, but partly because I am regularly disgusted at how we tolerate intolerance and hate in our midst.

    We have people in our community who can only find evil on the part of black teens and good motives on the part of police, no matter how many people are shot down, whether they went to get some Skittles, were selling cigarettes (a death sentence), or were in a park playing with a toy gun. We have people in our community who purport to be intelligent who advance the lie that the Civil War was about ‘states rights’. We have people in our community who regularly practice intolerance toward gay people, and intolerance toward people of different religions by telling them their religion is a religion of hate, and toward anyone who thinks or looks different. We have people in our community who cheer on as someone like Cliven Bundy gathers skin-heads, racists and white separatists to his side to aim sniper rifles at federal agents, and call it ‘freedom.’ We even put these people on the radio, where they intentionally tone down their race hatred and religious bigotry to ‘pass’, while driving listeners to their web sites where they get to proselytize the most outrageous philosophy. Don’t like the fact that the culture around you is changing? No problem, drop out and create your own intolerant state.

    These people have a right to free speech–it is what I love about America–they can be race baiters, religious bigots, misogynists, science deniers, name callers, liars and intolerant idiots. It is a free country after all.

    But we have a responsibility to stand up and shout to the mountaintop that they are WRONG. We have free speech too, and we get to tell you that your way of life, and philosophy, that perpetuates violence and glorifies intolerance will not stand.

    “I forgive you” they said, true to their values, and knowing it would be the hardest thing they ever did in their lives.

    We are going to bury you in love you dumb shits.

    1. Thank you Steve. There are many perplexing problems and one of them is that it’s extremely difficult to fix stupid.

      1. You are right Jim, we can’t fix stupid, but we can hold it accountable. I am grateful o you for doing that whenever you get the chance.

    2. Yeah, your comments about the culture in which the so-called “lone wolf” operates reminds me of these good words by Rebecca Solnit a day or so ago on her Facebook page:

      “They’ll probably describe the 21-year-old who shot nine yesterday as a lone gunman. But someone shaped his ideology, made the apartheid-flag patches he wore, indoctrinated him, modeled gun use as a legitimate means to power and racism/white supremacy as an acceptable worldview, and made high-powered guns readily available; no one made him do it, but many made him.”

  6. As big of an issue is how the media portrays this incident. Fox news is calling the murders an attack on Christianity. Racism is not part of the message. Of course this is what the racists who watch Fox want to hear. After all, racism is not problem in America, but the attack on Christmas by liberals and non-Christians is huge problem if you ask the likes of Bill O’Rielly.

  7. Rupert has worked his “media magic” in his home of Australia too. We’ve traveled there a few times, and his newspapers and other publications have helped polarize the urban and rural areas on various issues. It’s just how “he rolls.” I met his daughter, Elisabeth, a few times, interviewed her and wrote an article about her for the S.F. Chronicle. Much different MO than dad. She continues to remain independent from News Corp. empire. She’s hosted a fundraiser for Obama too.

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