The Madness of Race, Part 2

Mr. Rhett wrote how: “The killer says he was motivated by the Trayvon Martin case.” This was a most unfortunate incident, and was promptly however seized by black leaders and a pliant press, as a terrible example of racism in action. Yet Mr. Zimmerman was hardly any racist, and was acting in fear for his life. He probably erred in his persistent zealous patrolling of the neighborhood however, but was otherwise acting as a good citizen. Mr. Martin was hardly an example of any good citizen.
The incident and the press coverage instigated more sensitivities on the part of blacks, who became primed to react to successive incidents involving police, and enraged into more and more of a frenzy over any case that could be contorted into a racial act..

My Reply:

“Hardly an example of any good citizen” (with which I by every measure disagree!) don’t deserve death at the hands of a person who the police specifically ordered to stand down. Zimmerman was ordered by dispatch not to pursue, violated that directive and engaged a teenager with skittles for no more reason or authority that his egomanical devotion to narcissistic looking glass of justice. His record of violent threats involving women since the killing, his freeway contact that resulted in a bullet hole in his truck window speaks to his on-going attraction to violence and guns.

Distort as you will the facts by a subjective reading, Zimmerman’s behavior–not Martin’s–put them both at risk, and the fact–fact!–remains his actions resulted in Mr. Martin’s death. Moreover, I would be careful to “judge” a youngster you do not know from media accounts, who, even by those reports, did not engage in behavior out of the ordinary for youth, black and white. It sounds like “blaming the victim,” which I am sure is not your intent. Is it? Especially, one who on the day of his death was guilty of nothing.

Lastly, I deeply resent the use of “frenzy,” and “primed” to describe the outcry to successive acts of murder and the raising of legitimate grievances. Honestly, I am more “enraged” by your comment and your willingness to “contort” murder into a misunderstanding, ignoring the very words and acts, pattern and practices that clearly establish these deaths as racial acts–administered and protected by institutional forces against communities of color. These communities are sensitive enough and wise enough to know when race is a central issue and when it’s not and their judgement should not be disrespected.



The Madness of Race

All content and incidents have multiple attributes and characteristics, but not all are central to the motivation to act. Many are trying to use madness or mental illness to sidestep race as the guiding and defining factor in the massacre at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church. Read below. /wr

i read roof’s comments on his website. most of what is written is an incomprehensible stew of maniac
rantings with no political or organizational basis…a crazy rant. to use the scrambled thoughts of a disturbed man for political and journalistic ends is
creepy…and does nothing to solve whatever problems arise in this country over ‘race’. its not about a flag, or gun ownership, or politics…its mental illness…stop trying to make a buck or score political points on the acts of madmen.

My Reply:

Stop excusing “madmen” whose “maniac rantings” are tied to race and acted upon according to race. However “incomprehensible” and disordered, he is seeing race in his looking glass. His logic faults and fantasies don’t change that race is in the center of his madness–and determined his selection of targets and motivated his acts–by his own words–against people who “treated him nice,” but imbued with symbols, country names, and other paraphernalia of white supremacy, the mad man carried at his self-appointed racial mission.

His was not a garden variety schizophrenia. It glammed on to race. It followed through according to race.

Is their another mental illness by which people look at the facts and shift to auxiliary points, vehemently denying basic truth? It is as much a concern as madness that uses race (or religion) as a template for justifying murder and seeking fame for a “mission.”

Madness seeks a cause; in this and many cases, America’s history has provided a ready-made template of hate and stereotypes, misappropriated facts, and violent symbols (lynching empty chairs!) tied to race. No one expects hate to be neat and ordered, nor its cause excused because it isn’t.


Beyond the Doubts of Denial, Real Doubts

I have long said denial and racism are a part of the same double helix. No doubt we will see the idea that skepticism is good Jesuit practice! Seriously, woven into America’s racism is the fabric of denial, but looking beyond the standard practice of rhetoric, action, and denial, several things are asunder about the killing field. The killer says he was motivated by the Trayvon Martin case. but in that instance, the accused white man was acquitted! How does hate intensify with an acquittal? The killer lives near Columbia, South Carolina; why didn’t he select one of that city’s historic black churches? What readings did he do from which white supremacy sites? Was he in contact with white supremacists? Where did he spend the night before he was apprehended?

The answers may or may not shed deeper insight into his motivation or whether he had help. What we know now, by his own words, his posted symbols and images, his manifesto from the dark web, his domain name, and his witness to victims he shot and let survive, and to the police, is that his is a standard template of racism supported by others with standard templates of denial. Racism exists, but because of denial, its acts can never be found!

Let’s look for what can be found, directly or indirectly: did this young man have help and from where with his ideas or acts?

9 Ribbons on Emanuel AME Church fence.

9 Ribbons on Emanuel AME Church fence.

How Ronald Reagan Changed The National Conversation About Race

Paul Krugman joins the national conversation about race, hated, the legacy of slavery, and public policy in his column today. He says “race made Reaganism possible,” because of the shift of white voters to the Republican party, especially in the South.

Au contraire: Reganism made race a formidable political force! Here’s how: earlier, race/slavery/the bondage at the source of our political economy was debated in theological terms. Every sermon, abolitionist speech, pamphlet, novel, court decision, Declaration of Secession referenced God’s will and God’s divine order and plan–with both sides speaking fervently in God’s name!

Texas in its Declaration of Session declared: “that the African race had no agency in their establishment [is] the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations.” The Dred Scott decision declared white supremacy to be the law of the land without exception, as Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote, “it was God’s will.” Those who disobeyed the fugitive slave law were “disobeying God’s will.”

The pushback was also definitive: Henry Highland Garnet preached: “their fellow men, equal before the Almighty and made by Him of the same blood, and glowing with immortality–they doom to lifelong servitude and chains. Yes, they stand in the most sacred places on earth, and beneath the gaze of the piercing eye of Jehovah, the universal Father of all men, and declare that ‘the best possible condition of the Negro is slavery.”

Until Dr. King, race was a moral/theological issue. Reagan secularized it by shifting the debate to personal virtues and social justice within a conservative social order. The welfare queen, the dole cheat reframed race and the poor! He opened the door for the arguments of the balance sheets and freed hate to underpin social policy.

The Southern Poverty Law Center Memorial Foundation

The Southern Poverty Law Center Memorial Foundation

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The Witness Of A Lifetime

While I am able to no longer blame hate, I am unable to rise to the example of the greatest Christian witness this nation as ever seen: the family members of the nine murdered, their voices breaking in grief, one by one, declaring their forgiveness, to bring no hate to their loss as they honor those they loved; this is no doubt the most moving and magnificent example of divine strength and faith I will witness in my life time. I am blessed by their grace.

Jacob Lawrence. Prayer 1947.

Jacob Lawrence. Prayer 1947.

A Times Pick; one of nine, out of 397 comments overall.

The Angels of Emanuel AME


Drawn by Madeleine, age 7.

This drawing started at a quiet Mount Pleasant home with a simple yet difficult question by Madeleine: “Why is the world full of broken people?”

Melanie, the mother of two including young Madeleine, said while Madeleine asked a lot of questions about what happened Wednesday night, Madeleine’s twin sister Emma Kate talked very little about it.

“Why can’t the good people teach the bad people to be good?” Madeleine asked her mother, another question that seems simple to a 7-year-old mind but is anything but simple for an adult. “Just because someone is different doesn’t mean you have to do something bad to them.”

During the conversation, Melanie says her daughter also asked to see a picture of the church where the shooting happened. Madeleine also Googled instructions on how to draw an angel.

Her mother gave Madeleine photos of the nine victims.

“Madeleine wanted the Angels to be a good representation,” Melanie said.

So Madeleine armed with blank sheets of paper and crayons looked on the faces of the people killed — Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Sharonda Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Tywanza Sanders, and Myra Thompson — and started to draw.

Mother Emanuel AME Church stands large in the picture, taking up most of the page. Flying above are the nine slain church members, most holding a peace symbol or a heart.

Three have their arms outstretched, seemingly welcoming an embrace.