Point of View Columns

The Eternal Terror

Perhaps the Confederate flag in South Carolina will fly at half mast now 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 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 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, protect against slave revolts and safeguard 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 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, women and 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 an American. And there can be no cure for the disease of racial terrorism in this country 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

Slipping (Further) Into Darkness

To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, the world will little note or remember Ted Nugent. This past his prime rock star has managed to cling to shreds of infamy and notoriety by hurling multiple insults and threats at President Obama. He has disappointed many by not following up on his promise to commit suicide if Barack Obama was reelected president and now he has decided to dive deeper into the sewer of racist calumny by calling the President of the United States “a half breed mongrel”.

It is always to keep in mind that to be President of the United States one must be prepared to be the target of epic insults. George Washington was called an “illiterate and unlearned” and Abraham Lincoln was likened to a baboon. So in looking at the cascade of insults that have been directed against Barack Obama an historical perspective is important.

That being said, one would have to be as innocent as a newborn to not discern the scruffy stain of racism that is a part of the Obama Insult Brigade’s weaponry. Early in the Obama Era Teapublican partisans and others felt so liberated in the so-called post-racial America that they carried around signs and posters with Barack Obama being depicted as a sub-mythical savage with a bone through his nose.

Clearly some image consultancy consigned such obvious signs to the scrap heap, or at least to some place off camera. But the Confederate flags, the swastikas and the repeated references to President Obama as “not American” are all ladled from the same racist cesspool.

We should not spend a lot of time worrying about a has been like Ted Nugent. We should be worried that a leader of the Teapublican Party who aspires to be president – that would be Texas Senator Ted Cruz – has no problems with Ted Nugent’s remarks and continues to appear with him in public.

We should also be concerned that the spillover from these racist attacks can be seen on college campuses across this country most recently at the University of Mississippi where some miscreants thought that it would be a good idea to hang a noose around the neck of a James Meredith, the first black student at that school.

The point is that we are as far from a post racial America as we are from Mars. The point is that as long as racist language and racist behavior is tolerated and not shunned, as long as such behavior is embraced and not the proscribed, we will get to Mars sooner than we arrive at that post-racial America.

 

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