Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself

You’ve heard the news by now.

Another shooting. This time, in a church. This time, in Charleston, SC.

I will admit … I thought we’d “have that conversation” AND maybe even effect some common-sensical change, after Virginia Tech. Or after Tucson. Or after Aurora. Or after Sandy Hook. Dear heaven, particularly after Sandy Hook.

We haven’t.

The optimist in me is nonetheless starting to actively doubt that we’ll do any better following this, which will henceforth be referred to as “Charleston”. When the President talked about this crime, from the Rose Garden the other day, he looked as if he felt much less like the guy in the “HOPE” poster.

What this is, friends, is terrorism.

There are corners of the media world that don’t want to imagine that clean-cut young white men’s awful acts, no matter how awful, are terrorism. Terrorism is what scary brown people do. Not us.

But what else can you call this?


Every so often, I am reminded of what kind of brilliant friends I have. Articulate, thoughtful, smart, wise. I am honored to count them among my pack of Lifelongs.

A friend of my youth is now a professor of education at a major Eastern university. I’ve referred to his work before, which is usually in the service of the teaching profession he serves. And, in a real way, what he wrote this morning serves that profession, as well as the wider world that in various ways we’re trying to help achieve perfection.

Long road ahead.

His piece is what I was going to write … only much, much better.

It was posted on Facebook, and my friend’s circle of friends is at least somewhat different from mine, and the visibility of “shared” FB posts are sometimes limited by privacy settings. While we love privacy settings … in this case, Public is better.

And yes, I asked if I could re-post his work. (I’ll talk about intellectual property issues in a day or so.) He agreed. And away we go.


He wrote:

A white man who likes to pose with pictures of himself wearing symbols of apartheid era South Africa and colonial Rhodesia, walks into the oldest African American Church in the South and sits down with the weekly Bible study group. He then stands up, pulls out a gun, and slaughters 9 people, including the pastor who is also a South Carolina State Senator. Survivors report that the shooter says “You rape our women. You are taking over our country. You must be stopped.” The attack is clearly an act of racist terrorism as profound as the 1963 Alabama church bombing.

Fox news’ morning show opens its coverage with a running text that calls it “An Attack on Faith” and actually has Elizabeth Hasselback lamenting how “WE” aren’t safe in “OUR” churches. They deny that there is a clear racist component to the attack, and cover themselves by having a black pastor who calls for clergymen to arm themselves.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley issues a statement that “we will never know” what motivates someone to kill people in church – as if the terrorist who did this had not made his motivations abundantly clear. As if the surviving witnesses cannot be taken at their word.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a candidate for the Presidency, downplays the racial factor and talks about how people are out there looking for Christians to kill.

We can’t let them get away with this. The Black Church as an institution has always been a centerpiece of both black lives and the struggle for emancipation. It has been attacked decade after decade politically and violently. What happened in Charleston may be something we thought was left behind with America’s apartheid era, but we cannot allow these filthy apologists to get away with diminishing the vicious racism that is absolutely at the center of Dylann Roof’s monstrous act of terrorism. It is infuriating and obscene.


June 19, 2015 - Posted by | current events, news | , , , , , ,

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