It should not be controversial to say that the tragedy that took the lives of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina Wednesday night was an act of racially motivated domestic terrorism.
A white supremacist planned and executed a mass murder in a public place with a single vile intention: to murder African-Americans.
And yet, somehow — despite the Facebook photos of the confessed shooter wearing the flags of white-supremacist regimes, despite the fact that he confessed his motives to the victims who pleaded with him to stop, despite the recollections of his peers that he used to say he wanted to “start a civil war” — few conservatives have had the backbone to say on record what is a plain fact.
Instead they scrambled to defend the legacy and symbolic value of Confederate flag, which has flown proudly on South Carolina’s Capitol lawn since 1962. They twisted themselves into knots trying to argue that this was an anti-Christian hate-crime — as if there were no churches in Charleston other than the historic “Mother Emanuel.”
And yet… look past the tone-deaf Republican presidential candidates and glib morning-show pundits. Dive into the lunatic fringe of right wingers weighing in on the events in Charleston — and you’ll find some truly appalling, noxious, and deranged responses to the tragedy. Here are just five of them
1. Sandy Rios
Sandy Rios, the American Family Association’s director of governmental affairs inveighed against President Obama Friday morning for his remarks Thursday, accusing him of using the Charleston shooting as an “opportunity” to push his agenda.
The president asked (once again) for a reckoning of the country’s poisonous relationship to guns. According to Rios, this is yet another example of Obama using the shooting “to lay out his passion against allowing American people to carry guns,” part of a pattern, she claims, of the president rushing to co-opt tragedies for his own political gain.
2. Erick Erickson
On Thursday’s edition of The Erick Erickson Show, the program’s namesake and conservative blogger went on a rant about how the shooting was the inevitable byproduct of a country that has lost its moral compass, thanks to people like Jenner.
“As a nation, when these things happen, we never have the conversation about real evil,” Erickson said. The reason that conversation never takes place is because we are a society that “looks at a 65-year-old male Olympian and, with a straight face, declares him a her.”
In other words, no nation, in Erickson’s schema, that evolves its views on transgender rights can have a conversation about “mental health or evil because that society no longer distinguishes normal from crazy and evil from good.”