Within hours of the shooting at Emanuel AME Church, the New York Times filed its first report on the tragedy. Here was their lede:
CHARLESTON, S.C. — A white gunman opened fire Wednesday night at a historic black church in downtown Charleston, S.C., killing nine people before fleeing and setting off an overnight manhunt, the police said.
At a news conference with Charleston’s mayor early Thursday, the police chief, Greg Mullen, called the shooting a hate crime.
A few paragraphs down:
Tory Fields, a member of the Charleston County Ministers Conference, said he believed the suspect had targeted the victims because of their race.
“It’s obvious that it’s race,” he said. “What else could it be? You’ve got a white guy going into an African-American church. That’s choice. He chose to go into that church and harm those people. That’s choice.”
By 10 a.m. the next morning the gunmen’s comments were being widely reported.
When the son of her friend pleaded with the shooter to stop, Johnson said the gunman replied: “‘No, you’ve raped our women, and you are taking over the country … I have to do what I have to do.’”…
A law enforcement official said witnesses told authorities the gunman stood up and said he was there “to shoot black people.”
Turning our heads from those reports, we look to Fox News. Where over a chyron of ‘ATTACK ON FAITH…GUNMAN OPENED FIRE KILLING 9 INCLUDING PASTOR’ the morning hosts interviewed the former Republican candidate E.W Jackson:
“There does seem to be a rising hostility against Christians in this country because of our biblical views,” Jackson, a pastor himself, said after urging that everyone wait for the facts. “It is something we have to be aware of.”
Later, Doocy added, “Extraordinarily, they called it a ‘hate crime,’ and some look at it as, ‘Well, because it was a white guy and a black church,’ but you made a great point earlier about the hostility towards Christians. And it was a church. So maybe that’s what they were talking about. They haven’t explained it to us.”
Jackson agreed: “Most people jump to conclusions about race. I long for the day when we stop doing that in our country. But we don’t know why he went into a church, but he didn’t choose a bar, he didn’t choose a basketball court, he chose a church.”
Hostility towards Christians? But not black people. Jackson added:
“…I just think it’s something we have to be aware of and not create an atmosphere where people take out their violent intentions against Christians. And I would mention one other thing very quickly and that is, I would urge pastors and men in these churches to prepare to defend themselves. It’s sad, but I think that we’ve got to arm ourselves.”
I…can’t even satirize that. We now turn to Rick Santorum, who tsk-tsked with radio guy Joe Piscopo:
“It’s obviously a crime of hate,” he noted. “We don’t know the rationale, but what other rationale could there be? You’re sort of lost that someone would walk into a Bible study at a church and indiscriminately kill people.”
Except for Rick saying “don’t know” and “indiscriminately kill” he wasn’t doing too badly there. But of course he went on:
“This is one of those situation where you have to take a step a back and say — you talk about the importance of prayer at this time, and we’re now seeing assaults on religious liberty we’ve never seen before,” the candidate noted.
A question for these crusaders: Do any of you know who black people are? Have you any idea how they’ve been treated in this country? Do you know about, or have you ever heard of, the word…”Racism”? Quote Charlie Pierce: These really are the mole people. Yes well, buck up there Ace because here comes Senator Lindsay Graham. Appearing on…The View. Of course.
He continued: “I can’t explain this. I don’t know what would make a young man at 21 get so sick and twisted to kill nine people in a church, this is beyond my understanding.”
It’s strange the way the rest of us heard the breaking news and knew exactly what had happened. Everybody there at the church, and everybody within the black community immediately understood. Anybody who’s a regular normal American got a horrible feeling in their gut, and it told them all they needed to know.
“But it’s 2015, there are people out there looking for Christians, to kill them,” Graham added. “This is a mean time we live in.”
…but not Republicans. They seem to be a mix of mystified and outraged – on behalf of faith-based America. It’s very weird. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they were actually wishing it had been an anti-Christian shooting spree. But no:
Roof’s Facebook profile photo shows him wearing a jacket with patches of the apartheid-era flags of South Africa and Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe, and another Facebook photo shows a Confederate States of America license plate on the front bumper of his car.
Meek said Roof, while the pair got drunk on vodka, ranted about his racist views and indicated an obsession with the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and riots in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray.
“He said blacks were taking over the world (and) someone needed to do something about it for the white race,” Meek said, echoing claims made by a survivor about Roof’s statements during the shooting.
What Roof planned to do – and then did – had nothing to do with religion. The church only provided a convenient opportunity to shoot black people. No harm in admitting that, right Governor Haley?
Michael, Rena, Nalin and I are praying for the victims and families touched by tonight’s senseless tragedy at Emanuel AME Church. While we do not yet know all of the details, we do know that we’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another.
On the contrary, we understood immediately – we got it. Everybody knows why the white kid shot these poor people. You just can’t manage to say ‘Racism’ out loud.