I’m sickened by what happened in Charleston, South Carolina. A white high-school dropout shot nine black people to death in a historically black church. Based upon the location and some early evidence gleamed from Social Media, it does appear that this was a racially based series of unconscionable crimes. The murderer is fortunately now in custody.
Browsing Twitter, I saw a screen cap of someone looking for their grandmother who worked in that church, only to discover a few hours later that her relative was among the murdered. I can’t verify the validity of these posts, but even the prospect of their truth pulled at my heart-strings. I have nothing but sorrow for the families of those who have passed and any who may still be fighting to survive.
Meanwhile, a debate has begun to emerge revolving around the intent of the shooter, in a sort of head scratching competition of “mental illness” vs. “racism.” As in most things, the reality is likely somewhere in the middle. The societal conversation to follow needs to discuss the susceptibility of serious mentally ill persons toward extremist ideologies at the hands of manipulative provocateurs.
Throughout history, cowards too afraid of death or imprisonment to themselves engage in violent activity have repeatedly strived to indoctrinate young sick minds into acting out their fantasies. In modern times, Social Media has created an outlet not only for lone wolves to find other like-minded support systems of hatred, but also to indoctrinate the innocent toward philosophies they might not have otherwise adopted.
When someone is constantly informed that people belonging to group A are inhuman / evil / deserving of punishment and that it would be great if someone were to do something about it, it’s not exactly a surprise when at some point someone follows through as an indoctrinated individual lacking empathy, impulse control, and a drive to hurt people with a clear conscience.
It doesn’t matter if group A is non-Muslims beheaded for being the wrong religion. It doesn’t matter if group A is black people shot in a church for being the wrong skin color. It doesn’t matter if group A is police officers shot while sitting in a car for working the wrong job. Someone made the decision that murder wasn’t really murder as long as it was committed against the right group.
The science of indoctrination and those who embrace manipulation toward violent ends is so sickeningly familiar, regardless of overarching philosophy. It is from this acknowledgement that the intention to murder the innocent based upon group affiliation in the pursuit of any philosophy must be condemned without equivocation. Extremism flourishes when objectivity is rejected.
I will gladly post any fundraising for the families of the fallen from the events in South Carolina.