Police have apprehended the South Carolina shooting suspect, thank God. Unless true insanity is involved, acts like this are not “senseless.” They represent calculated evil, and they should be punished in a manner that properly responds to the awful moral gravity of the crime — life for life. May God bless the victims and their families, and may they rest in His promise that those who mourn shall be comforted.
There is much we don’t know about this horrible crime, but as Mona predicted, the politicization has begun. Indeed, it began well before Dylann Storm Roof was caught. Writing in Salon (where else?) Chauncey DeVega decried the “racial double standard” allegedly at work in the (hours-old) coverage of the attack, declared that “White right-wing domestic terrorism is one of the greatest threats to public safety and security in post 9/11 United States of America.” and then posited a series of bizarre questions that were irrelevant to the still-emerging facts of this crime. The questions, however, are deeply revealing of a certain radical mindset, one that seeks to use isolated horrific events to offer sweeping indictments against an entire ideological and cultural enemies list (anyone remember the aftermath of the Gabby Giffords shooting?) A crisis, after all, is a terrible thing to waste.
Here are DeVega’s questions, with my answers following:
1. What is radicalizing white men to commit such acts of domestic terrorism and mass shootings? Are Fox News and the right-wing media encouraging violence?
The racial demographics of mass shooters roughly approximates the racial demographics of the United States. White men appear to have no greater or lesser likelihood of becoming mass shooters than men of any other race. As for Fox News, is there a single shred of evidence that Roof watched even one second of the channel? Moreover, is there a single shred of evidence that anyone from Fox (or any other popular conservative media outlet) has ever encouraged or condoned such a heinous act? It would be bizarre indeed to believe that a channel or website “encouraged” an act (mass killings) they’ve always and forever loudly condemned.
2. Is something wrong with the white family? Why are their sons and men so violent?
Yes, there is something wrong with the white family. Its rates of illegitimacy and fatherlessness have been climbing for years and are reaching crisis levels. Sadly, other races are in even worse shape. Here are some recent statistics: “72.3 percent of non-Hispanic blacks are now born out-of-wedlock; 66.2 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives; 53.3 percent of Hispanics; 29.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites; and 17.2 percent of Asians/Pacific Islanders. That’s 40.7 percent overall.”
3. What should law enforcement and white politicians do about white crime?
As with all crimes regardless of demographics, law enforcement should investigate and prosecute crimes to the full extent of the law — while fully protecting the constitutional rights of all suspected criminals. While “white crime” is a problem (as is all crime), white citizens commit crime at a disproportionately low rate.
4. Is the Charleston mass shooting just one more sign that America needs sensible and reasonable gun control policies?
Define “sensible and reasonable.” The story today would be very different had one of the victims been able to exercise their basic (and constitutional) right to self-defense with their own, lawfully carried gun. We do not yet know if any victim was carrying a weapon or attempted to use it in self-defense. Nor do we know how Roof obtained his weapon. However, one thing we do know: not even the existence of the most draconian law in the land (prohibitions against murder that carry the death penalty) deterred this lawless act.
5. Where are the white fathers in the white home?
Too many are absent, but they tend to be more present than black or Latino fathers and less present than Asian-American dads.
6. When will white leadership step up and stop white right-wing domestic terrorism?
There is no evidence that American law enforcement (of any race) is ignoring or failing to “step up” against alleged “right-wing domestic terrorism.” In fact, the evidence suggests the opposite. In its zeal to stop alleged “right-wing extremism” the Department of Homeland Security is paying inordinate attention to plainly peaceful political movements. Moreover, I reject the notion that much of what is described as “right-wing violence” — especially racist or fascist violence — is ”right” in any meaningful sense. The Klan, for example has long roots in the Democratic Party, with Democrat Robert Byrd — a former “Exalted Cyclops” of the Klan — the most recent example.
7. Is White American culture pathological? Why is White America so violent?
As noted above, “white America” is too violent, but it is less violent than other American racial groups.
While all of the questions are posed in bad faith, this one stands out. As every sentient person knows, many neighborhoods are so overrun with fatherlessness, crime, and poverty, that young men lack for proper role models in their immediate social circles. This deficiency can’t be corrected by the presence of role models in books or on television. Better role models — like a good father – can, of course, help prevent all manner of bad acts, from drug use to murder.
8. Are there appropriate role models for white men and boys? Could better role models and mentoring help to prevent white men and boys from committing mass shootings and being seduced by right-wing domestic terrorism?
While early reports are often wrong, the available evidence indicates that a young man committed a terrorist act in a church, one apparently motivated by racial hatred. Now is the time to find and punish the guilty — while standing with the victims through prayer, compassion, and the material support they need. Some people, however, can’t resist spreading even more racial bitterness. Their ideology is too compulsive and their anger is too deep.