Racism South Carolina

South Carolina: We’ll Never Understand? We Do Understand.

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

As I'm sure you've heard, a 21-year-old white guy named Dylann Storm Roof opened fire inside the historic black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina last night, killing 9 people including the Reverend Clementa Pinckney who was also a state senator.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) issued a brief statement on Facebook last night that many, for good reason, did not welcome.


To say that we'll "never understand" what motivates someone to do something like this is farcical.

We do understand. It's true that when Haley issued that statement, intimate details of the shooting and investigation were not immediately available, but it was abundantly clear the moment Roof opened fire in a historic black church. We do not need the benefit of hindsight to recognize an act of hate and domestic terrorism.

Even before it was revealed that Roof's car features a confederate license plate, or that he wears a coat with symbols of Apartheid attached to it, it was clear that he was motivated by race. There is no other reason to specifically target a historic black church.

Furthermore, the roots of the killer's hate are deep seated in South Carolina, a state where the battle flag of the Confederacy still flies (top photo).

The confederate flag is not a symbol of wholesome heritage and innocent, cultural tradition. It's a symbol of systemic racism, slavery, and secession from the United States.

Governor Haley issued another tear-filled statement today that I for one cannot accept at face value.

“You know we woke up today,” Haley said, before getting choked up, “and the heart and soul of South Carolina was broken. And so we have some grieving we have to do. And we’ve got some pain we have to go through. Parents are having to explain to their kids how they can go to church and feel safe and that’s not something we ever thought we’d deal with.” [...]

“We love our state, we love our country and most importantly we love each other. And I will tell you there’s a lot of prayer in this state and so you are gonna see all of us trying to lift these nine families up in prayer because they need us.”

As far as I know, the "heart and soul of South Carolina" is not broken and is, in fact, still flying high above the state capitol.

I cannot accept Governor Haley's tearful statement at face value because she has not removed a symbol of white supremacy -- a symbol that does not say "we love our country" and does not say "we love each other" -- from the state capitol.

The governor has defended the flag of the Confederacy in the past.

With all of this said, it's not as if simply removing the flag would cure all ailments or heal all wounds, but it would be a start. The flag is a shrine to brutal racism that legitimizes the celebration of it for future generations.

(photo via Getty)

  • muselet

    Damnation, there are some unlovely people out there. Quoth TPM commenter “DaveyJones64”:

    I sure am glad that the shooter was just an isolated case from which we can draw no larger conclusions.

    And Lindsey Graham is desperately trying to jump on the “it wasn’t race, it was religion” bandwagon. That can come as no surprise.


  • muselet

    Charlie Pierce said it best this morning.


    • MadJuana

      Thanks for the link. Charlie Pierce’s piece is brilliant.

  • japa21

    The only parents that have to try to explain about feeling safe in church are those of color, specifically African-Americans. The white citizens of SC don’t have to be afraid of sitting in church.
    She is trying to make a purely racial event into an attack on Christianity, which is about as bogus as they come.

  • captkurt

    “Parents are having to explain to their kids how they can go to church and feel safe and that’s not something we ever thought we’d deal with.”

    And there it is, your gun nut dog whistle. If South Carolina can push through legislation allowing concealed carry without a permit in houses of worship, that sweet, sweet NRA cash should just start rolling in.

  • fry1laurie

    South Carolina would be flying a dead African-American on that pole if it could get away with it.