We now know that Dylann Roof, the young man who murdered nine people in Charleston last week, left behind a manifesto. And from it, we know that the killer’s Damascus-road conversion happened once he believed in the righteousness of the Passion of George Zimmerman, the Miami vigilante who gunned down a black teenager for wearing a hoodie and carrying Skittles.
But what informed his deadly opinions about the Trayvon Martin case? Where did his virulent racism, his born-again awakening about “White race” superiority come from? Was it voices inside his head? Or did he learn how to hate from others? His manifesto credits a group with the innocuous-sounding name of the Council of Conservative Citizens. With a name like that, it could almost be one of our local, holier-than-thou watchdog tea parties. Interestingly, the leader of this group, Earl P. Holt III, is a regular contributor to little Tommy Cotton and a gaggle of GOP presidential candidates now tripping over themselves to return his donations.
Where does a high school dropout like Dylann Roof go to learn how to be a bigot? Surely some intrepid journalist will soon connect the dots for us. Did he watch Fox News? Did he bathe regularly in Rush Limbaugh’s flying spittle, or listen to any of the other wingnuts polluting America’s airwaves? Did he follow some gilded evangelist beguiling his flock to shed their wealth and hate Muslims and embrace Christ’s love of Western Civilization? What books did he read and what websites did he visit? When are we going to realize that the poison these hucksters peddle has deadly consequences? How many more innocents have to die?
As is the case with most shooters who are a whiter shade of pale, there is a rush to blame whatever lurked within Dylann Roof on mental illness. But whatever sparked his evil rampage, whether it spontaneously erupted from deep within a rotten soul or was cultivated by others on the callous, careless fringes of our impolite society, would Dylann Roof be as infamous today without his God-blessed Second Amendment right? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. Arthur Chu, in a recent Salon article, stated the obvious. A “sane” person holding a gun is intrinsically more dangerous than a “crazy” person, no matter how crazy, without a gun. That, ironically, is bulletproof logic.
Photograph (modified) of Dylann Roof from a white supremacist website. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/21/us/dylann-storm-roof-photos-website-charleston-church-shooting.html