The Weiner Component #129 – The South Carolina Hate Crime & its Consequences

African Methodist Episcopal Church

African Methodist Episcopal Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

On Wednesday afternoon during a Bible Study session on June 17, 2015, a young man, Dylann Roof, visited the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, spent about an hour there watching a bible class, then during the prayer session that followed he took out his new pistol with a laser sight and shot nine parishioners, killing them all.

Dylan Roof, who had recently turned 21 years of age, was an unemployed high school drop-out. He had failed and had to repeat the ninth grade of high school. To look at a photograph of the youngster one would guess that he was about 16 or 17 years old.  He had purchased the pistol probably after receiving a money gift from his father as a birthday present on his 21 birthday.

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Looking at a picture of this youngster and reading about him one gets the impression of a total loser.  High School had been too much for him.  He had been unemployed, very possibly incapable of holding a simple job.  At 21 he was an absolute nobody, dependent still upon his father for support.  He is the perfect example of what Southerners would call “white trash,” a nobody, a nothing.

I remember being stationed during my two year stint in the military during the second half of the 1950s, shortly before the Civil Rights Movement took off in the U.S. in both Georgia and South Carolina.  And I remember that the raunchiest and poorest white man considered himself superior to the richest and/or best educated black man in the cities of Augusta, Georgia or Aiken, South Carolina, the two major cities located near the bases where I served in the military.

It seems, even with the Civil Rights Movement and the 1965 Voting Rights Law, that racial superiority is alive and still flourishing in the United States, particularly in the Southern States.  This nothing youngster, who had his own hate sight on the internet, in which he showed himself wearing white symbols of former ruling Black States in Africa and burning an American flag while waving the Southern battle flag with his other hand, apparently felt that it was his mission to help purify the white American race by killing a number of Blacks, who in his words “were raping white women and taking over the country” from superior Whites. What confused me about this act of so-called purification was why he shot more women than men.

Dylann Roof apparently had thought of killing himself directly after the shooting but changed his mind or didn’t have the nerve to carry it out.  Instead he fled the scene and was picked up over two hundred miles away from Charleston.  He had been captured on television in the Church and readily admitted his deed.

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The news media has been vigorously covering this story and following all its ramifications.  One of the items they seem to have missed was the question of to what extent was his father responsible by giving his unemployed, high-school drop-out son enough money to buy an expensive pistol?  I’ve read nothing about the father other than he exists and that his wife left him at some point in the past.  Is this a standard operation in South Carolina, to allow your son to arm himself when he turns 21, regardless of his mental state?  Is the boy an extension of his father or did he develop his superior attitude by himself?  Are these questions being investigated and is it still too early to answer them?

Another question that has developed is the questioning of the Civil War flag flying from the front of the state capital.  This flag was readapted in 1962 by the State of South Carolina as a protest against the 1962 lunch counter sit-in by Blacks in that state. It was a reaction to one of the first Civil Rights protest actions in the South.  It continued to fly until recently at the state capital.  It still flies throughout many states in that part of the country and exists on the automobile license plates of several Southern states.

Initially Senator Lindsey Graham of S. Carolina stated that the flag denotes to the people of the state who they are.  Days later, after the governor of the state, Nikki Haley, had stated that it was time to get rid of the flag which is a symbol of slavery and segregation or hatred by the two groups.  She also stated that it is time to reconcile the entire population as one people.  Graham agreed that it was time that the flag came down.

Other Southern states, North Carolina and Virginia are going to take the flag off of their automobile license plates as soon as possible and one of these states is going to remove a commemorative statue of a Civil War hero and Klansman that stands in the area of its capital building.

Interestingly I’ve heard no comments from the National Rifle Association but it may be too early for them to comment.  They usually wait for the emotions to die down in mass shooting incidents before they say anything, which usually consists of having the pastors or teachers or whomever go around armed in case of an emergency.  Can you see college or high school students walking around their compasses with concealed weapons?

These statements by the NRA are understandable when one realizes that a part of their Board of Directors is made up of gun, magazine, and ammunition manufacturers.  These companies fund them with millions of dollars each year.  They would love to extend their base of customers.  Particularly since most of these companies that have been around for a long time are not doing well on the stock market.

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One would assume that there are some laws about gun ownership in South Carolina. And they would be right there are some. There are none for rifles or shotguns but there is one for handguns. There is no permit, registration, or licensing required but a non-drug police arrest record is required for carrying a concealed handgun.  Apparently anyone purchasing a handgun has to wait three days to be cleared by the F.B.I.  Root had been picked up a year or so earlier for drug possession but somehow the F.B.I. never found this out within the three business days and he was given the weapon. Apparently the F.B.I. receives twenty to thirty thousand requests for this type of information per day.

Because of an error Dylann Roof, who had been arrested several times, once for drug possession, and was a white supremacist with his own internet blog, was able to purchase a pistol with a laser sight.  I would assume that much of what he believed he had heard not only from his friends but also from his father and his father’s friends. The statement that Blacks are always raping white women and taking over the country would be generic among his group and the white supremacist’s blogs he, no doubt, followed on the internet.  Apparently derogatory statements of hate can go a long way with some people!

This brings up an interesting question: How far does freedom of speech extend?  There are libel laws where an individual can sue someone who wrongly libels him.  But to what extent is someone on the internet calling for mayhem and violence responsible for an act committed by one of their adherents?  If someone is targeted for death by a hate group and then someone else commits the crime then is only the perpetrator guilty? Where does responsibility for verbally proposing hate end?  Are there or should there be limits on this type of free speech?  Does change always have to follow tragedy?

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There have been positive responses to the shootings.  South Carolina has taken down its Civil War flag by the capital building.  Other Southern states are in the process of taking similar actions. No doubt many Ku Klux Klan heroes of the past will now fade and many street names will be changed.  Apple sells Civil War games at its stores.  These apparently all contain the Civil War flag and have all been removed from Apple stores. Walmart is no longer selling anything that contains images of the Civil War Battle Flag.

The one exception seems to be Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin.  He just signed a bill that ended the waiting period for the purchase of handguns.  Originally anyone buying a pistol in Wisconsin had to wait 48 hours before receiving his merchandise; now the individual can just walk out with his new pistol at the time of purchase.

There is a very happy looking picture of Walker posted on the internet signing the bill, which he said, had been planned before the Charleston incident.  He saw no reason to delay this planned event.

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President Barak Obama gave the eulogy for the nine murdered individuals at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  He said, among other things, that the Lord works in strange ways.  The killings strongly indicated that the South consists of two societies, one White and one Black; and that all the symbols permeating the societies engender strong negative feeling among the White population.  Beginning with the Civil War flag and going on to all the statuary of Klansmen and the streets and boulevards named after these individuals have and are engendering lasting bigotry and racial hate, feelings of superiority and inferiority.  It is time to follow what Republican governor, Nikki Haley stated, it is time for the Southern states to become a government of all its people.

The Weiner Component #62 – Just Us (Justice in America)

 

The concept and practice of Justice in America is an interesting one.  It means different things to different groups within the society.  To the middle class Caucasian it is an expression of equal protection under the law of the land.  To the upper echelon of large corporations it means fines for illegal business activities and no jail time for the perpetrators.  To the lower classes it engenders a certain amount of hassle by the authorities, like “Stop and Search” in New York.  To the top few percent of our society it generally means forgiveness for most illegal activities caused by “illness.”

To Blacks, however, the concept of justice means “Just Us.”  They, the black minority, consider themselves more the victims of the system than its beneficiaries.  The statement denotes that the practice of justice falls much heavier on the Black population than on any other group within the society; that most of the criminals serving time within the prisons are Black in a society with a much larger white majority, many of whom have the same bad habits as the Black incarcerated minority.  It is an indication of an unfair or prejudiced society where the Black minority has essentially second class status.

Recently there was an incident between a Black Woman who was driving her family of five children about six miles above the posted speed limit.  The police officer had her pull over, get out of her vehicle, walked her to the back of her car, and asked her to hold out her arms and lean against the automobile.  She refused, presumably feeling that she was about to be handcuffed and arrested; and according to her testimony refused fearing for the safety of her five children.  She got back into the car while the officer kept ordering her out of the car.  He went ballistic and used his stick to break the front passenger window and had drawn his revolver.  As her car sped away another officer, who had arrived on the scene, fired three bullets at the vehicle, presumably aimed at the tires.  Remember this is an unarmed Black woman with five young children in an automobile.  A few miles down the road in town she stopped the car.  The police ordered her and her children to lie face down on the sidewalk next to the vehicle and arrested this Black lady.

Over my lifetime, more than once, I have been stopped by an officer of the law for speeding.  I have never been asked to get out of my car.  I have only been asked for my driver’s license and proof of insurance.  The policeman has always been courteous as he wrote out a speeding ticket.  But then I was never a threat to him for I have been a middle-aged to elderly Caucasian.

There was an incident not too long ago where a Black woman, who had been in some sort of auto accident, went to a nearby house to ask for help.  She needed to use the telephone.  The white woman, who at the time was alone in the house, shot her, presumably in fear of an assault.

There is always the case of Trevon Martin, who was stalked by George Zimmerman, in the housing tract where he was staying, after returning from a 7/11 retail outlet and then shot.  Would Zimmerman have been found not guilty by the jury that tried him if he were black and the person he shot was white?  I think not.

A short while ago a Congressman of Florida’s 19th District, Trey Radel, a member of the Tea Party, was arrested for the use of narcotics.  He purchased $250 worth of cocaine from an undercover law enforcement officer.  After being convicted of drug abuse Radel publically apologized to his two year old son, his wife, his parents, to his fellow members in the House of Representatives, to his constituents, to the State of Florida, and to the country at large.  He stated that he was taking a leave of absence, with pay, from Congress to deal with his illness.  His fellow Republicans in the House approved and supported his decision.  They did not ask him to resign because he had broken the law.  However the chairman of the State Republican Party called for the U.S. Representative to step down.  About a month later he did resign; but, as far as I understand, he is recovering in a sanitarium not in jail and has not lost any of his civil rights.

If he had been Black and had been caught doing this would he have been forgiven in any way for his illegal act and allowed to go into a medical facility.  How many Blacks are currently serving a prison term for possession of a small amount of drugs or are out in society but they have lost their civil rights for this same act?  One can easily understand why Blacks call the system: Just Us.

Incidentally this is also the man who voted along with his party members in the House of Representatives to have all food stamp recipients tested for narcotics use.  And would have those who otherwise qualified, that came up positive, disqualified from being able to receive food stamps for themselves and their families.

On Saturday, December 21, 2013, the Los Angeles Times published an article in is LATEXTRA section entitled, “Defying racial stereotype.”  The article explained that “a national survey finds that Black fathers are at least as involved with their kids as other men in similar living situations.”  I found the article atrocious and myself angry.  It seemed obvious that fathers are fathers.  Some are irresponsible and abusive to their families; others are the opposite, caring and thoughtful. What ethnicity has to do with this issue is nonsense.  A percentage of irresponsible parents would exist in every ethnic group.  In fact since there are more Caucasians in the society their group would have the largest number of non-caring fathers.  The racial stereotype is trite.  The fact that the LA Times felt a need to publish such an article made me angry.  At what level of maturity do they consider the majority of the public?

The Constitution of the United States originally had a 3/5th clause that had slaves counted for purposed of representation and taxes as being 3/5th of a white man.  This compromise was insisted upon by the Southern States.  The 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which was added in 1865, legally freed the slaves and ended this compromise.

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s presumable ended segregation.  But emotionally have the Blacks been freed?  Are they the equal of everyone else in the society?  Does justice in the United States still mean to Blacks “Just Us?”  Are the prisons in the nation largely crowded by Blacks who have committed victimless crimes against themselves?  Do police, who want to up their arrest records, find it easier to arrest Blacks than Whites, even though the same percentage of both groups equally commit the victimless crimes?

While the Three-Fifths Compromise disappeared with the Civil War its major idea of Blacks being 3/5 of a white person psychologically persists today lessening the rights of Blacks before the law.  They are fully justified in designating “justice” as “Just Us.”

What is an interesting note or irony here is that the Caucasians are no longer the majority within the country.  The demographics have changed.  We are now a nation made up of multi-minorities with our citizenry coming from all over the world, not just Western and Eastern Europe.

The Tea Party, among the Republicans, seems to be making a last stand of protest for the former white majority.  They are currently controlling the entire Republican Party and the House of Representatives.  With the current demographics how long can this last?  We have a Midterm Election coming up in 2014.

 

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The Weiner Component #60 – The Duck Dynasty & Race in the United States

English: Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Mar...

The former controversy in late 2013 with Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the TV live action or unrehearsed program “Duck Dynasty” brought to my mind a number of issues about him and about race relations in the United States over the years.

In an interview he equated homosexuality with terrorism and he stated that he remembered his happy youthful days in backcountry Louisiana, before government programs and welfare, when the happy darkies lived there and sang all the time.  One wonders what Robertson’s definition of terrorism is?  And one wonders about his powers of observation, especially during his youth.  And why is he a patriarch rather that an old timer or senior citizen?

Robertson is 67 years old, which means he was born in 1946; one year after World War II ended.  His memories seem to be of an idealized past reminiscent of the period after World War I rather than that of the Second World War.  How far back in the backcountry did he live?

The scenes he talks about I remember from movies made in the 1930s, Like the Marx Brothers’ “A Day at the Races,” which is still occasionally shown on TV, where in one scene the happy “darkies,” who presumably took care of the horses at the Race Track, sat around singing songs and eating watermelons.  I don’t think that situation ever existed outside of the movies.

After the Civil War blacks were immediately given full civil rights.  They were protected by an army of Northern occupation.  They voted and even sent some of their members to Congress and the State legislatures.  This continued until 1876 when Samuel Tilden, a Democrat, ran against Rutherford Hayes, a Republican, for President of the United States. Even though Tilden received the majority of the votes the Republicans insisted that Hayes had won the election.  Three states, Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina, had two set of electoral returns, one for the Democratic candidate and one for the Republican candidate.  Oregon had one elector declared illegal and replaced by a Republican.  On the night before the inauguration was to be held the two parties reached a compromise agreement.  Hayes, the Republican, would be the next president and the occupation troops would be withdrawn from the Southern states.  All the questionable electoral votes were counted for the Republican candidate.

The Klu Klux Klan had come into being earlier.  From 1867 on it would operate freely throughout the Southern States.  The Jim Crow South now came into being, stripping from the blacks whatever rights they had and subjecting them to abject subservience.  This was then finalized.

In 1896 the Supreme Court of the United Stated rendered the Plessy v. Ferguson Decision that made so-called separate but equal Constitutional.  This legalized segregation in the nation and legally brought about all the “Jim Crow” laws.  Blacks from this point on legally became, what they had been before, second class citizens.  In the Southern States there was total segregation.  In the North there were black ghettos and equally restricted areas.  The two groups were kept separate within the society.  In fact, if I remember correctly, an early movie where a black man and a white woman danced together on a split screen (Two separate images of people dancing were brought together as a single image.) caused a minor riot when it was shown in a movie nickelodeon.

World War II, the war to keep the world free, inadvertently brought about change.  In order to meet war production goals in the Northern States blacks were hired to work in factories by 1943. Winning the war became more important than keeping the races separate.  In many instances they worked alongside whites.  There was a massive movement of blacks from the segregated South to the ghettoes in the North.  This brought about a rearranging of the wartime population of the United States.  It gave employment to people who had trouble finding decent jobs.  And once the war was over conditions had changed; there was no going back.

In the military backs were treated differently overseas, particularly in Europe, than they had been in the U.S.  The military was segregated in this war and for the first time blacks became officers in the air force.  All pilots in the military automatically became officers.  This created all sorts of problems. In military bases located in the South the soldiers were told that they salute the uniform and not the man wearing it.   Shortly after W.W.II President Truman desegregated the armed forces.

The nation was changing.  The U.S. entered W.W.II with the Great Depression still lingering and the bulk of the population being lower class, with, at best, a high school education.  We emerged from the war with the depression over and full employment.  The Federal Government offered free education or a business start to the returning veterans.  We emerged after the war as a middle class nation.  With the Supreme Court decision in 1954 of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, separate but equal became inherently unequal and unconstitutional.  Legally the Jim Crow Era was ended and segregation became illegal.

In the 1960s the Civil Rights Movement would begin with sit-ins and marches.  Rosa Parks would begin the bus boycott in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama.  Martin Luther King, Jr. would become the leader of the movement.

The process was difficult and still has not been totally accepted throughout the United States.  The black is still essentially a second class citizen.

Throughout the United States there was and to a certain extent still is defacto segregation, separation which occurred because of where people lived.  I remember hearing or reading about an incident sometime in the late 60s where Lena Horne went to the restaurant in the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.  She was seated and waited forty-five minutes for service before she left in disgust without being served.  In a sense that is still the situation with blacks throughout the United States.

From the 1970s on enterprising real estate entrepreneurs were able to desegregate expensive housing tracts by initially selling to a black family and then forcing the other white families out by telling them how their property values would drop if they stayed in the tract.  Conditions are somewhat better today.

Robinson was a teenager after W.W. II when many of these events took place and even growing up in rural backwater Louisiana glimmers of what was happening must have come down to him.  If they did and he didn’t understand them, then that tends to define what kind of patriarch he is.

The A&E channel that runs the unrehearsed “Duck Dynasty” cancelled the show, then after a short period of time changed its executive minds.  Profit, it seems, is more important than ignorance.  The program has several million watchers and is inexpensive to produce and highly profitable for the network.

 

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