In pain we lash out. Trying to understand the unknown we guess motives and seek answers to questions likely never to be fully answered. Those are natural emotional reactions to tragedy. The reality, however, is there is no flag to blame, no gun to blame, no one to blame for the unforgivable and evil actions of the man responsible for the Charleston killings but the cowardly man who pulled the trigger.
Dylann Roof is responsible for the deaths of nine men and women in their Charleston church. It’s that simple.
Hate and racism are powerful motivators for evil. That’s what this crime was: evil. For years to come experts will study the situation. Criminologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and people in such fields will look at what motivated Roof to take innocent lives.
This morning as I sifted through the mountains of news coverage, editorial coverage and friends opinions about Roof’s crimes I couldn’t help but to be struck by the way people were coping or responding. There was a clear line between those who joined me in the sad reflective phase reading the stories of the victims and about their lives. Then there were those who were angry. Experts will tell you how we react to grief is unique to all of us but we usually all hit one of the stages at some point. We do this for both personal grief and in such times of crisis.
As expected every time there’s a gun crime, the traditional anti-gun lobby was shouting “take the guns.” As if that’s the solution and as if criminals won’t commit crime without them.
Then there’s the added conversation based on the racial factor in this particular crime. Much to my surprise some were calling for the Confederate flag to be banned because it is apparently to be blamed. As if flying a flag incites murder any more than violent lyrics or video games incites them. Some blame Southern culture on the whole.
I’m hurt and I’m angry that we live in a place and time where such senseless violence occurs. I worry for my friends and my family. I worry for the law enforcement officers protecting us. I worry for our nation. When people can’t go into a place of worship and find peace and refuge without fear we have come to a crossroads and we need more than rhetoric to solve the problem.
While we need to recognize and take seriously those who pose a threat we also need to get to a place where we can talk about race and racism in a healthier manner.
There’s so much I wish to say today and so much I began to write when talking about this but for fear of being called a racist, I typed then erased much of it. It’s a shame when defending the value of history and defending a flag makes you a racist in the eyes of some. That said, any such talk today takes away from what we should be talking about and that’s the enormous loss that the family and friends of the nine victims are feeling. Today we should talk about the hurt in the community where the church stands and the fear and confusion. We should talk about healing and remembering, and we should talk about the strength of those who have already said they forgive the shooter.