It was an amoklauf, a hate crime and a political assassination.The shooter, who apparently had no death wish and was captured without a struggle at a traffic stop, reportedly sat in on a prayer meeting. From the words of a survivor, he may have been mulling over whether or not to kill church people, whose pastor was a state senator. Finally, a survivor relates, the young man said, "I have to do it. You're raping our women and taking over our country." He killed nine people, including the pastor, and reportedly spared the rest to tell the story. We have learned since then that he is a white supremacist who hoped, so a onetime friend claims, to provoke a civil war. He may or may not have known that the church he chose was Denmark Vesey's church back in the 1820s when it was burned by white arsonists because of Vesey's role in planning a slave uprising. Was the pastor another Vesey in his eyes, or did names matter, or did anything matter but skin color?
It's a good thing the kid was taken alive because we now have a living specimen of a species many would say no longer exists. Today, we're told, it's the blacks who are the haters. When there's a mass shooting, many people's first question is whether the shooter's a Muslim. Fortunately, a surveillance camera told the true story promptly this time and helped get the killer captured quickly. Yes, folks, there are white people who hate black people and want to kill them. So now we'll hear that he's an "isolated case," which means that no one else is responsible for him. If he's an isolated case, so is every "lone wolf" killer, whether he's a white supremacist or a wannabe jihadi. Conversely, if you're going to hold an entire religion accountable for the acts of lone wolves, then you had better acknowledge that the Charleston killer didn't get that way in a vacuum. If people think we need "anti-sharia" laws to stem the tide of Islamism in America, then the Charleston atrocity should convince them that we need stronger anti-racism laws to suppress the murderous spirit in young men like this murderer. You can't have it both ways. If you want to, that tells us that you probably see this vicious boy-man as more of an individual than the average Muslim or black man, either of whom is more often automatically assumed to represent a more menacing or at least more culpable collective. Writing off this murderer as an isolated individual is thus a kind of inverse bigotry, and more obviously a way of getting everyone else off the hook. If collective responsibility is assumed for every black or Muslim crime, then it should be assumed here, or else you've got a lot of explaining to do -- and you could probably save your breath.