We must respond to the Right-wing attempt to reframe the Charleston massacre

I never cease to be amazed by the speed and the ability of the political Right to distort the truth.

The attempt by the political Right to reconstruct the Charleston massacre as an attack on Christianity defies belief.  Yet it is something that we cannot simply sit back and allow to play out.  This is a moment when we must connect the Charleston massacre with the lynchings that are regularly taking place against people of color generally and African Americans in particular.  The Charleston massacre, allegedly carried out by someone comfortable wearing the flags of apartheid South Africa and white supremacist Rhodesia, is a continuation in the line of assaults on Black America.

The fact of the matter is that there is no basis to believe that this white man walking into a Black church and murdering Black people had anything to do with any antipathy to Christianity,  It has to do with an antipathy to Black people.  It also has the markings of someone who probably wished to ignite a race war.

The political Right will do whatever it can to move the eyes of reasonable people away from analyzing race.   When African Americans, Native Americans or Latinos are attacked by the police, the Right-wing moves quickly to question the motives, not of the police but of the victims.  When acts of violence after acts of violence against African Americans are held up for the entire world to see, the political Right does its best to question each incident and try to demonstrate how any ambiguity in one case should somehow compromise the integrity of any suggestion of a demonstrable pattern.

The fact that the Charleston massacre took place in a church should, however, demonstrate one fact about religion.  White supremacists are not restrained or constrained by the fact that the targets of their hatred may be people of faith.  As far as the white supremacists are concerned, those murdered in Charleston are not worshiping the same Creator of All Things as are the white supremacists.

One thing that can be done immediately is to contact right-wing media outlets and politicians and convey, in no uncertain terms, that we do not appreciate their commentary on the Charleston massacre.   The ‘analyses’ offered by these right-wing pundits remind me of something that my father used to say:  “It is better to keep one’s mouth quiet and to be thought of as a fool than to open one’s mouth and prove it.”  Oh, how I wish that Fox News would appreciate that point.

2 thoughts on “We must respond to the Right-wing attempt to reframe the Charleston massacre

  1. Remembering Sen. Clementa Pinckney

    Brett Bursey
    SC Progressive Network Director

    I first met Clementa Pinckney when he was elected to represent Lowcountry counties in 1997. He was 24 years old and powerfully earnest in a humble way. I knew the name, having grown up in Beaufort with white Pinckneys who were ever-mindful of their famous namesake’s role in establishing this state and nation. A standing joke in Beaufort was “the Rutledges speak to the Pinckenys and the Pinckneys speak only speak to God.”

    Clementa smiled at my mention of the white side of his family, noting that they got the money and land, but are no closer to God than his side of the family.

    Most of his friends called him Clem. But I loved the name his mother Theopia gave him, and always used it. I had several occasions to spend time with his wife Jennifer and their two daughters. The girls are precious, precocious and polite reflections of their father. They will always miss him, but will always remember, too, the president of the United States eulogizing him, as well as the outpouring of grief and love across our state.

    Sen. Pinckney speaks at a clean elections press conference at the State House.

    Clementa was an active member of the SC Progressive Network, and championed legislation we promoted. His sponsorship and articulate defense of our clean elections bill to reduce the corrupting influence of money in politics was captured on an SCETV clip here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gz6rjp8MIzs).

    Clementa’s calm nature in spite of his demanding schedule was humbling. While he was a legislator, pastoring a church on the coast and being a great dad back home in Ridgeland, he found time to get a masters degree in Public Administration from USC, then take classes at the Lutheran Seminary.

    When he was transferred from a small AME church in Beaufort County to one in Charleston, he didn’t mention that he was the new pastor of the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church. The church, one of the oldest black congregations in the nation, has a history that reflects the violence of our state’s racist heritage. Denmark Vesey, was one of the founders of the church in 1818 and the leader of a Charleston slave rebellion in 1822. Vesey and 34 others were hung for their role in the rebellion in which no white people were injured. The church was burned during the Vesey trial, and in 1834 the state outlawed all black churches.

    A great new leader has been taken from us by an old and insidious enemy. Let it serve to remind us of the long road we’re traveling for racial justice, and deepen our resolve to stay the course.

    South Carolina Progressive Network | 803.808.3384 | POB 8325 | Columbia | SC | 29202

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