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.”
3. White Supremacists
Turns out there is such a thing as bad publicity.
White supremacists are the one group that’s really getting bad press from on all sides on this, and they want you to know: the Charleston shooting is totally not what they’re about.
According to Huffington Post, white-power groups are “trying to distance themselves from the suspect” because they’re “worried that a white man killing nine people in a black church in South Carolina looked bad for their movement.”
Commenters on the white nationalist site Stormfront took to the forums to express their exasperation that Dylann Roof’s actions would reflect poorly on them. HuffPo quotes a commenter named WhiteIsRight as saying: “Lets [sic] not make excuses when a person of our own race does something like this,” and moreover, “The guy was clearly a bad apple.”
4. Alex Jones
Alex Jones says the media are using this tragedy to feed their endless “race war” narrative. And it will end with the fall of America.
And okay, to his credit, the perennially paranoid radio host said explicitly on his show that this is not a “false flag” operation, by which he means this wasn’t staged to steal Americans’ guns the way the massacres in a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school and Aurora, Colorado movie theater were. “Let’s be clear, these things have been staged before,” Jones said — but this isn’t that.
Rather, he claims, the Charleston shooting is giving the mainstream media another occasion for ‘hyping racial division and race war,” and that the coverage has “elicited a lot of low-intensity attacks on whites.” This is part of their 24/7 campaign to inculcate Americans with fear. “They’ve been hyping ‘race war,’ pushing it as hard as they can, saying the NRA is the new KKK,” Jones said.
What’s the endgame here? “You can bet your bottom dollar,” he continued, that “America is being set up for a fall and, out of that, the new socialist nightmare.”
5. Rick Perry
GOP presidential candidates said their share of ill-considered things about the killings in Charleston. But only former Texas governor Rick Perry (R-TX) went so far as to call the shooting an “accident.”
This is part of the Obama administration’s M.O., he explained, of exploiting tragedies: “Any time there is an accident like this — the president is clear, he doesn’t like for Americans to have guns.”
Perry also pointedly refused to refer to the shooting deaths of nine people as an act of terror. “It was a crime of hate. We know that.” He then proceeded to suggest that opioid abuse might have had something to do with it.
Because, really, when a racist kills people with guns, you can blame it on anything… except racism and guns.
Screenshot: Right Wing Watch/YouTube