Point of View Columns

The Eternal Terror

Perhaps the Confederate flag in South Carolina will fly at half mast now that a damaged excuse for a human being named Dylann Roof killed nine black people in a South Carolina Church. All reports indicate that Roof sought to kill black people so this was not a random act of murder – this was an act of terrorism. And this latter day Neanderthal monster reminds us that American terrorism directed against black people is a horrific and very real part of the history and present tense of this country.

Consider the irony in the fact that the site of the murders, Emanuel AME Church, was founded by Denmark Vesey who had plotted an extensive slave revolt which failed in 1822. After Denmark Vesey as executed, white South Carolinians burned the Emanuel AME Church to the ground and actually banned all black churches in the state in 1834. The history of Emanuel AME Church is soaked in blood and scarred by the fires of hatred and bigotry.

And the history of Emanuel AME Church is an important reminder as we consider the current atrocity at that church. Terror against black people has been a constant theme in this country starting with the Barbadian Slave Codes which were then exported to the American colonies, beginning with South Carolina.

The Slave Codes were created to impose absolute white domination over black slaves, and to protect against slave revolts and as well as safeguarding the significant financial investment that slaves represented. Under the Slave Codes there were literally no limits to the violence and savagery that could be suffered by black Americans. Indeed, it can be argued that Slave Codes injected the virus of white racist violence and terrorism that still runs through the veins of America.

There should be no doubt that the Slave Codes begat Jim Crow which begat wholesale lynching which begat legally sanctioned terrorism to confront the civil rights movement. Lest one think that this virus is confined to the former Confederate States of America it should be clear that New York City and Boston police worked closely with slave catchers and the state of Indiana had the largest Ku Klux Klan membership of any state in the history of this country.

Dylann Roof is a direct descendant of the mobs that confronted the Little Rock Nine in Arkansas and James Meredith at the University of Mississippi as well as Louise Day Hicks who encouraged the attacks on school buses carrying black children in Boston. Dylann Roof is a direct descendant of the Klansmen and the “ordinary citizens” who organized and participated in the lynching of thousands of black men and women in the 19th and 20th centuries. Dylann Roof is a blood relative of the terrorists who bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham and he belongs to the same family as the scores of police officers who have shot and killed black men, women and children without cause, simply because they were black men, black women and black children.

We should all be saddened by the carnage in Charleston. But we should not be shocked. Terrorism directed against black Americans is part of American history.

And we should certainly not be shocked by Dylann Roof’s actions – after all, he is a white American. And there can be no cure for the disease of white racial terrorism in this country that still afflicts so many white Americans until we are willing to accept that the illness exists.

It is the first step to recovery.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – February 28, 2014

It seems that there are people who think that any black American slave who resisted was a terrorist. And that tells us a lot about those people. And in Arizona it seems that persecuting Latinos has been replaced by persecuting gay Americans as a legislative blood sport. And in Africa, it seems that persecuting gay Africans is more of a priority than fighting hunger and disease.

My Hero is Your Terrorist

Denmark Vesey was born a slave. Although he managed to buy his freedom, his wife’s master would not let him purchase her freedom – or that of their children.

Denmark Vesey ultimately led one of the major slave revolts in American history, an insurrection that spread fear and panic in the hearts of every slave owner and every supporter of slavery. The fact that his revolt did not succeed and that Denmark Vesey was hung did nothing to assuage their terror.

Almost two hundred years later there is a plan to erect a statue in his honor in Charleston, South Carolina, the site of Denmark Vesey’s rebellion. And there are some noble white South Carolinians who are complaining because, in their view, Denmark Vesey was a “terrorist” who didn’t “work within the system”.

The absurdity of the naysayers is obvious and further comment is unnecessary. Let’s just hope that the statue is erected…………………and very soon.

Arizona Crazy

The state government in Arizona has been so obsessed with persecuting Latinos in the name of immigration security that it took the Supreme Court of the United States to curtail some of the more egregious legislative actions. Sullen and unbowed, the Arizona Bigots have clearly focused on yet another target – gay Americans.

Recently, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a measure passed by the legislature that would have given the operators of public facilities – hotels, restaurants, theaters, etc., the right to refuse service to individuals whose lifestyles offended their religious beliefs.

This was a gossamer legislative veil over the intent to give these same operators of public facilities the right to refuse service to gay Americans. And Governor Brewer, with visions of Super Bowl and gay consumer dollars galloping away from her state wisely vetoed the measure.

But what is it about alternative lifestyles and different concepts of love and caring that make some people so hateful in the first place?

Back into the Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness describing the bleak and horrific characteristics of the European colonization of Africa. Over a century after that book was published we are now witness to the leadership of too many African nations advocating draconian legislative actions which criminalize the lives and lifestyles of gay Africans. Death sentences, life sentences, banning and shaming are all part of the New African Fascism.

In too many parts of sub Saharan Africa there are challenges of crime, civil unrest, genocide, hunger, disease and poverty. Can it be that alternative lifestyles and different concepts of love and caring are the priority issues when so many Africans are suffering, not from homosexuality, but from ineffective, corrupt and misguided governance?

It may be time to hit the reset button in Africa.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

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