Blacks are a "hated people" writes Jamil Smith in the New Republic Is there no safe place? Our Racist History Isn't Back to Haunt Us. It Never Left Us. Rebecca Traister wrote in the same issue.
It's to be expected that those who see a senseless murder and respond with such passion about it will be in the headlines for a while and those who try to put it in another perspective will have a hard time avoiding criticism, but is there any safe place for anyone? We have a history of senseless violence in America and as coverage of it around the world screams at us all day and all night we all know about it, we all fear it no matter how small the odds for any individual. School children, Muslims, Jews, gay people get attacked, always by disturbed and probably demented and deluded young men -- it's a long list and it grows. Random samples of the population have been involved in mass shootings in recent memory. Movie theaters, restaurants, schools, office buildings and the streets.of Boston, Deadly explosions, aircraft hijackings and shootings. One might correctly think Americans are a hated people.
But he's right, of course, there are people who hate anyone with any African ancestors, like our current president -- and his election and re-election has released some hate gas from the muck, but the unspoken implication is that everyone hates black people: The White People hate Black people, that is. That's not only untrue as election results prove, but it's a statement that is needlessly divisive and inflammatory. It serves to heighten hatred and fear as well as it serves to sell magazines. It's a racist sentiment.
I do not doubt the sincerity of either writer and I do share the anger and a disgust with racism of all sorts, but it's very very hard in the atmosphere we have been given to breathe even to discuss the possibility that outrage is just another form of the same thing we're angry at -- that fighting bad doesn't make everything you do good or true or helpful. This isn't the old South, the murderer has zero chance of getting away with it.
Is this latest tragedy really the result of intransigent racism or the story of another young man slipping into madness and choosing a "cause" that's a relic of the Old South? I have heard people say you can't go to the movie theater any more, you can't send your kid to school any more and even that our laws provide an open season on black children. Irrational and untrue and hyperbolically out of proportion Black people are still more likely to be shot by a black person. Domestic acts of terrorism have been quite random when it comes to the race of the victims. Every time something happens we're told this changes everything, but the truth, the sad truth is that it doesn't.
Again did Dylann Roof shoot up a church because we have a tradition of racism or because we have a tradition of letting the insane go unconfined? Would one cause have been as good as another? Was it really all about suicide? He did claim he was going to kill himself after all. We don't know and perhaps some don't want even to talk about it because they're on a mission of their own and don't want the passion play watered down or its passionate elements soothed.