Blaming the South Carolina murders on the “war against Christianity”

June 19, 2015 • 2:15 pm

Where do the right-wing news channels dig up people (some of them black) who claim that the killing of 9 black people in a South Carolima church was due not to racism, but to animus against Christianity? After all, the white killer, Dylann Storm Roof, had a history of racism, explicitly said that he wanted to kill black people, and proclaimed that he was getting revenge for black men raping “our women”.  We have, of course, encountered left-wing resistance to accepting people’s stated motives for violence, but now the Right is doing the same thing.

Fox News is apparently good at digging up people to pin the murder on hatred of Christianity. Here’s a clip from last night’s The Nightly Show‘s Larry Wilmore that not only mocks that view, à la Jon Stewart, but also segues into a thoughtful discussion of the motives behind the murder. Click on the screenshot to see it.

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119 thoughts on “Blaming the South Carolina murders on the “war against Christianity”

    1. Nor will they let you see the Pacific Trade pact (unless you’re a congressman or a representative of approx. 600 U.S. corporations).

      1. I think you deliberately misunderstand. This was broadcast but is censored in other parts of the world.
        1 I wish bloggers would refuse to air such material as a blow against censorship.
        2 Does anyone have a link that would bypass the censors?

        1. What is it – and how do you possibly know – that I “deliberately misunderstand”? It was plainly stated in the NY Times. If the Times got that wrong, it’s the Time’s fault, not mine.

          1. Reading more in the Internet, I understand that some labor union types have access to the document. Fine by me.

  1. I’ll bet money on the shooter being Christian, and that this was an attack based on racial hatred and not religion.

    They have absolutely no grounds to claim that this was an attack on religion, other than the fact that it happened in a church. That’s like saying; when Sunni Muslims blow up Shiite mosques, it’s an attack on Islam.

    What we do know is that; the gunman was a racist. That he said he was shooting them because they were “taking over the country”.
    That he wore racist badges on his jacket.
    That he attacked a black church, steeped in black culture and black history, filled with black worshipers.

    And we know that white Christians have been attacking black churches for centuries.
    But hey, let’s not let facts get in the way of the faux Christian persecution complex that these right-wing nutjobs have.

    1. If the shooter was an avowed atheist, would he have put up with an hour of bible study before opening fire?

      1. Jeez, I wouldn’t. I’d give it five minutes, tops. After that I’d be out of there, one way or another.

        (More seriously, why did he wait an hour?)


        1. Chillingly, he’s supposed to have said he almost didn’t go through with the shooting, since the people seemed so nice, but in the end he had to ‘go through with his mission.’

          1. That was a serious non-sarcastic question of mine, by the way. I just couldn’t figure why, if he’d gone there to do his murders, why he didn’t get on with it. I suppose if he found the people unexpectedly nice, that might have given him pause. But then he decided he ‘had to do it’? – he’s definitely got something very wrong with him.

            (And I mean, wronger than even muslim suicide bombers. I can see how they could be persuaded by alleged wrongs, and encouraged by their leaders, and carry it through because it was expected of them. But this guy didn’t seem to have those factors operating. A bit more like Anders Breivik, I suppose).

    2. ” . . . he said he was shooting them because they were “taking over the country.”

      In the early 70’s I heard my East Tennessee WASP great aunt gripe about “the blacks taking over,” her response to their efforts to have the rights/liberties/opportunities she and her ilk enjoyed. I was silently in a rage upon hearing that, but as a callow youngster wasn’t in a position to respond to her without bringing the wrath of the extended clan down on me.

      In what circumstances did this young man grow up? What is it with young human male primates? Hitch’s “half-a-chromosome-away” thing, eh?

    3. And, he drove hundreds of miles, past probably over a thousand churches, to hit that particularly historical one, led by a state legislator, maybe the only black state legislator. I think that qualifies as premeditated.

  2. The NRA is blaming it on the pastor of the church. He was also a state senator who’d voted against concealed carry. They’re saying if CCW had been in effect, someone would have gunned down the gunman.

    The fact the US already has 3x more guns than any nation on earth seems to be lost on the NRA

    1. The Nazional Rifle Association is a stooge of the arms manufactures and the GOP is a stooge of the NRA.

      1. It’s pretty clear that the NRA is mostly a gun manufactures’ lobby. Michael Moore was a card carrying NRA Michigan good-old-boy since his early teens and only quit the NRA when the response to Columbine showed the NRA was more concerned about gun sales than responsible gun ownership.

    2. That church doesn’t allow guns. It won’t even allow, now, after this deadly violence, an armed security guard or police/military presence. That is their stated stance.

  3. It’s pretty simple.

    If the killers *say* they are killing because of religion (Charlie Hebdo) then no it must be something else.

    If the killer *says* he is killing because of race (Charleston) then no it’s definitely because of religion.

    At least they are consistent, in a way. They claim to know the minds of the killers better than they know themselves.

    Religion: never to blame, always the victim.

  4. It’s never about race! That would mean we’re the problem. It must always be about religion so we can be the victim!
    Unless Christians are the bad guys, then it can’t be about religion. Obviously!

  5. Fox News never fails to amaze me at how brazenly they abuse reality.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think Rupert Murdoch has done more damage to the United States of America (via Fox News) than any other single person.

    1. GOP Republican candidates such as Graham and Santorum are claiming it isn’t about race. So in this instance I think Fox is echoing a conservative meme that is already out there, not producing a false meme.

      1. This isn’t the start of racism is dead in America meme, or war on Christians in America meme, Fox News has been working on both memes for quite some time.

    2. There’s got to be a case to make that he’s done more damage than just about any non-politician, around the entire world.

  6. It is not only Fox News. Jeb Bush is saying “he doesn’t know if it was racism or not.”

    Let me help you there, Jeb. It IS.

    1. shrub II is always willfully ignorant when he wants to avoid alienating his conservative base. Perhaps not quite as actually ignorant as shrub I seemed, but still doesn’t seem all that bright to me.

      1. Plus, were Jeb to acknowledge that there’s racism at the core, he’d be contradicting Fuxx News, and he can’t let that happen.

  7. I can’t see the clip, but this is another story I wanted to write, but can’t at the moment.

    There have been multiple hosts on Fox News blaming this on the imaginary War on Christianity. Steve Doocy featured an interview with a (black) man on Fox and Friends who favours segregation. His logic was that the gunman didn’t go looking for his targets at basketball courts (and some other places stereotypes place black people), he went to a church, therefore it was about religion.

    Rick Santorum and Rudy Guiliani have both made statements that this is about the War on Christianity too.

    The pastor/senator who was murdered had been pushing gun control legislation – if there was a secondary motive to this a-hole’s slaughter, that was it.

    I haven’t seen any US news for about 12 hours, so I don’t know if this has been confirmed, but I heard it in an interview yesterday, also on FNC. The murderer lived with his mother. A friend of his said she had taken his gun off him because she didn’t trust him with it. He’d taken it back, the friend said, but his mother didn’t know. The same friend said he thought Roof’s was racist, and that was his motivation.

  8. The terrorist thought that white supremacy was being threatened. Fox News and Rick Santorum want to reassure us that he was wrong.

  9. “Sorry, this video is unavailable from your location”

    So I can’t watch it just because I live in the Netherlands?! Western hemisphere racism!

      1. Your respective countries probably carry the comedy network on a local station. This is the case in Canada.

    1. I’m in the U.S. and can’t watch it because of a dispute between Suddenlink (my cable provider) and Viacom, which owns Comedy Central.

  10. I’ve gotten enough age on me that I occasionally wonder, “What murderer(s) was(were) conceived today?”

    And what were the circumstances of his(their) upbringing?

    Could he have not done other than what he did?

    I grew up in a rather racist household, but I saw it for what it was. Why couldn’t he have similarly been bloody disposed?

    1. I gather he was identified from the video and reported to the police by his uncle and then by his father. It seems the family are not backing his actions, if they’re actively turning him in to the authorities. I think he got his indoctrination elsewhere.

      His vulnerability to said indoctrination might have been along the lines of Daesh’s methods, targeting young men and older teens, recognizing how their brains work enough to play on said vulnerabilities.

      1. Ought one reasonably suppose that perhaps 25 ought be the minimum age for joining the military (and law enforcement for that matter), allowing for sufficient brain development?

        1. That’s a very interesting thought. Perhaps 30 would be better. Some life experience could help officers relate better to the people they face, day to day, allowing for better communication. I think it would also work with your brain development perspective, too.
          (Personal observations, in my 20s, suggested that men weren’t “ripe” until about age 30, and though I was curious with regard to successful marriage, at the time, it probably reflected social development and brain maturation. I wonder if it’s been studied?)

  11. Another meme going around is “mental illness”, which serves as a No True White Man argument. Because hating blacks (quietly, in the privacy of your own home so as not to attract bad press) is OK, but you really shouldn’t kill them (until the race war comes – then have at it).

        1. I gather that (too many of) the wrong people are going into law enforcement.

          I wonder who the “right” people are, and what it would take (for those resolutely opposed to entering law enforcement themselves) to persuade them to enter the field. I’m having trouble identifying any “carrots.” Plus, I don’t see where anyone is somehow more obligated to enter law enforcement (and military service) than anyone else. Yet the populace (and their masters) expect someone to do so.

          1. We have the same issues in Canada. I rather suspect it is people hiring people like themselves and over the years it has snowballed.

          2. One thing I have not yet seen remarked on in connexion with the hysterical brutality of rather too many American policemen is that they must be a constant state of jitters as a result of the NRA’s successful push to put guns in as many people’s hands as possible, including people who should never be allowed to be near any kind of weapon. This surely plays a part, and perhaps a considerable part, in the brutal and hysterical responses that are in the news so much.

          3. Were that the case, there’d be more evidence of cops shooting whites. Instead, even after the gun battle in Waco, mere weeks ago, there was a photo of all the arrested people sitting on benches, no handcuffs, waiting to be transported and booked. There were victims and deaths in this shootout, for Pete’s sake! Yet, the police didn’t seem to feel personally threatened. I saw a photo of it and could hardly believe my eyes.

            Then, there were the several videos of white wacko men taunting their weapons in public restaurants and on public streets. Did the police shoot them like they shot the 12 year old black child with a toy pistol? You betcha they didn’t.

          4. I think Tim Harris is correct here. It isn’t the sole explanation. Institutional racism plays a very, very, large role as well. But I’m certain that anxiety generated by having to wear kevlar vests every day when you go to work puts you in mind of preparing for battle. That would not be the case if we had sane police advocate for increased gun control. An example is our chief here in Milwaukee.

            Of course there are counter examples, like Milwaukee County’s insane Sheriff Clark and that nut-job sheriff down in Arizona whose name I can’t be bothered to look up.

          5. I’m sure that plays into it as well. Even my campus cops have bullet proof vests. Like they are going to be shot by students on their way to class. It is crazy.

          6. Institutional racism is definitely part of it, but way up at higher levels. The confederate flag at the SC State House, for example, represents a part of that institution. White, Republican gerrymandering, as has already been pointed out, has twisted voting districts such that they are nonsensically shaped to keep white Republicans in office. Only those black candidates that sound like they agree with the Republicans are included in the “club.” But a LOT of these folks down here still look at that flag and get tears in their eyes at the thought of “those brave boys in gray” who fought in the Civil War for states rights (read slavery).

            Yesterday about 1500 mostly white (according to one witness) people showed up at the SC State House saying the flag should come down. The last time that idea was seriously discussed 7,000 (mostly whites) showed up to keep it up, and three weeks later about 50,000 (very mixed)came saying take it down.

            There is hope in and for SC!!

          7. Thank you, GB! It is not just the actions of the American police with respect to people who are not ‘white’ that I am referring to; I am referring also to the trigger-happy swat teams who burst into people’s houses at dead of night (often the wrong people’s homes)and shoot the right and the wrong people (even though the ‘right’ people might not be waving guns about), as well as children, babies in cribs, dogs, etc; and I am referring to what looks like the militarisation of the American police: the armoured cars, etc. It really is extraordinary to an outsider like myself, and I suspect the NRA’s vicious and dishonest advocacy has a lot to do with it – as does the vicious and dishonest support the NRA gets from right-wing thugs and politicians.

          8. And of course institutionalised racism is largely responsible for the regular shootings of black people, etc.

          1. As I understood it, the use of Tasers was going to result in a huge reduction in the number of people shot by police.

            How’s that working out? [/sarcasm]


          2. As far as I know, Tasers are not regulated by any governmental agency. They’re not firearms, and the FDA claims they’re not medical, though they behave like various medical things that the FDA does regulate. Therefore, they can kill as many as unregulation allows, which number doesn’t seem to have a limit.

          3. Actually, my question related, not to the number of people killed by tasers, but whether their use had, as promised, led to a reduction in shootings by police. I don’t know the answer but I’m sceptical.

          4. I know, right?!

            My favorite part was the bit about all the “research” coming from the Taser corp itself.

          5. I read the first quarter or third of the article. Here are my thoughts:
            1. I’ve personally asked the FDA to oversee Tasers, just as they oversee transcutaneous nerve stimulators and defibrillators. They refuse. Since all three are designed to affect human physiology in a very medical way, I can imagine no good excuse for their refusal.
            2. Surveillance cameras should be able to document what the police claim. Where is the video proof?
            3. The International Association of Chiefs of Police has recognized enough cases to give this situation its own, medically unauthorized and unsupported, name. That suggests enough frequency that the proper response would have been to train all officers in CPR and cardiac defib to save the lives of their victims — that is, if the intent were not to kill.
            4. Provocation by police can stir up even a peaceful person, under sufficiently stressful circumstances. Provocation of a person on drugs, under police control, frighteningly helpless in handcuffs, etc., can surely cause heart attacks or psychological meltdowns.
            5. Again, if the police did not and do not want such things to happen, they should take care to handle situations in ways that do not up the ante.

          6. Very interesting that you’ve addressed the FDA about this. How infuriating their answer!

          7. Thanks for your thoughts Doc. I need to go read the article. A couple weeks ago on Real Time one of the guests actually suggested that people should not rile up the police. What?! If a police officer is at a scene you are in, it is a fair assumption that something bad is happening and you can’t help but be riled up. It is the duty of the police officer to diffuse the situation.

      1. I’ve heard the Charleston shooter called a terrorist in the media ( can’t remember exactly where, but on more than one occasion). I think that hate crime is definitely appropriate in this case, but not sure that terrorist is in this, and many other cases.

        1. IMO, if his intent were to kill enough people with this action to terrify other potential victims and set an inspirational example for other lone wolves, then I think terrorism is at play, here. His own inspirations should also lead to those sources being investigated for terrorist activity, to see whether they intended or appeared to intend to inspire such violence.

          I’m not a lawyer, though, so it would be helpful if any lawyers, here, could weigh in.

          1. I think hate crime and terrorism are two quite distinct things, though they may overlap in some cases.

            Terrorism is (usually) designed to achieve some particular aim by throwing fear into the population. Not just to scare them, but to coerce them into some desired result. For example the IRA bombing campaign in Britain, which mostly stopped when the IRA had achieved (some of) its political aims.

            Things like this massacre and many of these school massacres, on the other hand, don’t fit with terrorism as such in that the killer is usually doing it for some warped personal reasons with no clear aim in mind.

            I think I agree with Merilee there.

          2. What if the shooter intended to scare Blacks into moving from America, to leave America to its Whites?

            (With success in scaring away of Blacks, those same terrorists would focus on others they consider not White, as well, of course.)

          3. Well, since the probability of blacks leaving is zero, he can hardly claim to have any coherent aim in mind, can he? ‘Terrorist’ generally implies some organised campaign, I think.

            I think it’s too dignified a label for this idiot.

          4. Actually, he’d probably be satisfied, temporarily at least, if they moved north, where Yankees live. At his age/stage of brain development, based on American standards, you can’t expect him to think very far ahead. He just wants them gone. He doesn’t care where or how, only that he is the keystone stimulus for pushing them out of his version of “here.”

            He meant to terrify the community. He understood that particular church was special, because of its community building history. He knew that if, by killing some, he could scare the rest out of church, he could do something to break down their community and sense of security. You might not see the terror in this. You might never have been subject to such bias. It can be hard to appreciate, without experience.

          5. @docatheist

            I understand that a community could be ‘terrorised’ by such people (though not this guy now, because he’s in custody). But they could also be equally fearful of a serial killer, or a serial rapist, or an arsonist – none of whom (normally) would be described as terrorists. So inspiring fear is not, by itself, enough. I think the archetypal terrorist would belong to some organisation with political aims and be acting in accordance with some concerted plan.

            Though this guy could be a borderline case, I guess.

          6. The serials you mention aren’t intending to terrorize. The terrorist is. And this terrorist didn’t just wake, one day, and decide he hated Blacks and had to kill them. He was raised up in this philosophy by hard core bigots whom he found online. He represents them, they are still out there inspiring others, and that is what the terrorized community has to fear.

          7. You do not need to be a dues-paying member of an organization to engage in terrorism. There are plenty of “lone wolf” terrorists that I think we can agree on.

            There is a centuries old history of organized (and lone wolf) terrorism directed at black people with the aim of “keeping them in their place” or “sending them back to Africa” (or any number of other racist delusions). Declining to call this terrorism seems to me a failure to recognize this history.

          8. White, right-wing extremists have been terrorizing black people in America for centuries.

            I simply can’t understand why someone tries to distinguish that terror-inducing behavior, intended to intimidate a large class of human beings into submission, by offering an alternate label: “hate crime”. As if this distinction made any difference at all.

  12. As a South Carolina resident for about 30 years, I never fail to be amazed at how blinded some people are when it comes to race! Nearly everything that has happened over the past THREE-PLUS CENTURIES between many whites and everyone else in South Carolina is race-based. These people down here live in a time-warp that goes back to 1861. Ask most white South Carolinians about the time before that and it was OK in SC, but from 1861 to 1865, during the events of “the recent unpleasantness” many native white South Carolinians call it “heritage.” Blacks don’t see it in a positive light, and they vote. They just don’t vote in every election, or run their own candidates who would change things! If black South Carolinians got off their butts, ran black candidates, and voted, the Confederate flag would be gone and SC would be a nicer place to live. One of the main problem is that so many whites think they are still in charge of everything, and this little .45-toting twerp is out to prove it! SC is a wonderful place to live, but it could be so much better…

  13. When the Sandy Hook shooting occurred, and people asked, “Why would a just God allow this?” conservatives said that it was the fault of godless liberals for banning God from schools. God COULDN’T stop it because he wasn’t allowed in the schools, you see.

    So how do they explain God allowing church shootings?

  14. Generally I would not make comment on such an story as this murder/killing in South Carolina because there is very little to say. Mass murder whether here or Sandy Hook, Conn. tends to explain itself without any additional help from anyone. They are all routine disasters that happen regularly in the U.S. and are apparently what the people of this country want and even prefer. Otherwise they would demand something be done, but they don’t.

    I never purposely watch 5 seconds of fox news but did see the segments or clips concerning the reference to religious caused shooting that were played on the nightly show. I can only think of two things off hand and that is: How stupid is fox news? The other thing is: How stupid do they think we are?

    1. Is it stupidity on FN’s part? It is surely rather a wholly cynical dishonesty that will exploit anything, or put a spin on it, so that their ‘message’ can be put across. Sean Hannity was asserting just the other day that Zimmerman was right to shoot Trayvon Martin.

  15. The Fox/Santorum wing trying to shift the narrative to “the war on religion” constitutes the cynosure of cynicism — cynicism toward the murdered nine in South Carolina, cynicism toward racism in American, and cynicism toward their own purported Christian faith.

    Absolutely appalling.

    1. I can’t shut up so easily on this as I should. It is important that readers in other countries and there are many, understand this specific shooting and know it is slightly different from the last 8 or 12 headline mass murders we have here.

      Nearly all of them involve young males with easy access to guns and are generally mentally defective individuals. The difference here is only to note where he is from (South Carolina)and his only or at least main mental problem is that he is a racist. He is also ignorant, which is a given with racist and dropped out of school while barely in high school. They still fly the Confederate flag down there in the first state to pull out of the Union back in 1861 and that was 154 years ago.

      1. I even saw a photo in which the national and state flags were lowered to half mast, signalling sadness over this catastropy, while the Confederate flag, in the foreground on a separate pole, was not. That illustrates the priorities of those in power in that state, and in its neighbors, the rest of the “deep South”, to say the least.

  16. Listening to NPR’s ATC this afternoon. Their coverage included a longish recording of victims’ family members telling the arraigned killer that they forgive him.

    At first I thought “I couldn’t do that”, not with the killings so fresh and raw in so many people’s lives and, particularly because it is what their religious faith demands of them: “hate the sin, love the sinner”.

    It occurred to me that, in some strange sense, those forgivers were acknowledging that we do not, in fact, have free will; that our actions and mindsets are the result of a vast accumulation of prior experiences that direct our actions in the present

    1. It struck me that forgiveness is one thing, but I bet the relatives of the dead and the local community still want the secular criminal justice system to take its natural course and exact a severe punishment. I can’t imagine that they’d be happy to see the perpetrator get a light sentence, simply because they ‘forgive him’.

    2. I saw that, it made me feel uneasy. I wonder if they really mean that and how they could persuade themselves into that frame of mind. *I* wouldn’t forgive the little bastard.

      (Though, I also hate to see vindictive relatives baying for blood. So really, I can’t win, or is it they can’t win in my eyes).

  17. I just happened to be flipping channels (yes, I know, that’s an antiquated method of finding entertainment) and saw The 700 Club also pinned this on Christian persecution. Go figure. I need to write my provider and tell them to stop carrying the BCC (Batshit Crazy Channel).

  18. Been busy the last few days. What’s this about a mass killing? Oh, what’s the point – it’s not as if it’s surprising or anything.

  19. Larry Wilmore and Jon Stewart are not examples of critical thinkers, nor are they advocates of reason.

    So tiring to see atheists who happen to be Leftists, think Leftists must be rational.

  20. I am reminded by the continued existence of Faux News that, “fully half of the American population is of below-average intelligence.” What’s appalling is the hold that they have over their many viewers as well as their unabashed refusal to ever admit that they were wrong, or that they simply made something up. In that sense, they function perfectly as the propaganda organ of the wingnut branch of the TeaOP (which is pretty much running the show, anymore).
    I am good friends with and often visit the 92-year-old mother of a good friend of mine- I’ve had to refuse to discuss anything to do with politics with her anymore as all of her viewpoints are those of Fox News or the Tea Party: when I give her any facts that contradict her, “confirmation-bias”, she just gets upset. I’ve called her on her “addiction” to Fox several times and she always says, “Oh- I watch the other news channels, too”, yet, every time I go to visit, Fox is what’s on the TV and it’s hard to get her to turn the sound down so we can talk. When I offer to print out and show her some criticisms of Fox News, she says, “I won’t read it.”
    There are other examples of this, “facts aren’t important” mindset in her life: she’s always been a “spiritual seeker”: raised Christian Scientist, adopted Congregationalism when she married, and now fancies herself a Catholic, though she never goes to mass. She’s never read much in the Bible, and quit a Bible study class she took years ago because it was, “too confusing” (there’s reason for that, of course). She says, “I just LOVE Jesus.”
    I may go over and visit her today; I’ll probably find her all upset about this awful, “War on Christianity” that appears to be ramping up!

    1. I’ll bet she really appreciates your treating her as an adult, rather than as an infant, the way so many treat the elderly!

  21. I suppose the 1963 bombing in Birmingham, when the KKK planted dynamite in a Black church, killing 4 girls, was also an attack on faith, not race.

    1. I trust that someone will ask Jeb Bush whether he thinks he can possibly know whether this 1963 attack was religion- or race-related.

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