Why it’s Not Okay to Ignore Race in the Charleston Shooting

While the country mourns the deaths of nine African American churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., some conservative pundits are already trying to rewrite the narrative. Rather than framing the story as an attack on a community of color, some conservatives are labeling the incident an attack on Christianity.

While details on the story are still developing, early indications are that the shooter’s attack was racially motivated. Photos have surfaced of the apprehended suspect wearing emblems of apartheid, and a survivor reported that the shooter said, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country” just prior to the slayings. If the shooting really was about religion rather than race, there certainly isn’t any evidence to corroborate that yet.

Nevertheless, Fox News did a segment Thursday morning cautioning viewers from identifying the shooting as a “hate crime” before the facts are known, while simultaneously emphasizing that the shooting occurred in the church. To drive this point home, they interviewed a black pastor who considers it his God-appointed duty to carry a weapon to defend his congregation from a similar threat. While Pastor E.W. Jackson said “most people jump to conclusions about race,” he was much more confident that the shooting is part of “a rising hostility against Christians across this country because of our biblical views.”

The rightwing media prefers to portray African Americans as assailants rather than victims, and since that’s all but impossible with this particular news story, they’re changing the slant of the story to deemphasize race. Because the shooting occurred in the church, they’re choosing to focus on the “war on Christianity” that Fox News continually tries to convince its viewers is actually happening.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum echoed the pundits’ sentiments. Though he called the shooting a “crime of hate,” the hate he focused on was that directed at religion. “We’re now seeing assaults on our religious liberty we’ve never seen before,” said Santorum. “It’s a time for deeper reflection beyond this horrible situation.”

You see, an honest reflection on the horrible situation might lead us to believe that racism remains prevalent in the United States. A deeper reflection beyond the horrible situation could lead us to worry about white Christian lives, though, so let’s go with that instead.

I’m not saying that we should ignore that the mass shooting occurred in a church. The fact that African Americans are not even immune from outside violence in a place of worship is telling. Furthermore, the Emanuel AME Church has a remarkable history. President Obama said, “This is a church that was burned to the ground because its worshipers worked to end slavery. When there were laws banning all-black church gatherings, they conducted services in secret. When there was a nonviolent movement to bring our country closer in line with our highest ideals, some of our brightest leaders spoke and led marches from this church’s steps.” The church’s history of empowering the black community should not be lost in why this location was likely chosen for the slaying.

To be fair, Fox News hasn’t entirely erased race from the conversation. I kid you not: Elisabeth Hasselbeck asked Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece whether white people should be afraid to go to visit black churches in light of the recent tragedy. Yes, won’t somebody think of the white people! Either she’s conveniently forgetting the race of the victims in Charleston, or she’s resurrecting the usual narrative that white people have reason to fear black people because now black people might retaliate.

At the end of the day, white Christians in America might live in fear of hearing “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas” in December, but they aren’t under violent attack. To spin this racially motivated hate crime as evidence of an anti-Christian sentiment is disgraceful.

For more coverage of the Charleston shooting, click here. To make a donation to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, click here.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

157 comments

Lesa D
Past Member 5 months ago

thank you Kevin...

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Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga5 months ago

thx

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Jack Y
Jack Y5 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y5 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C3 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Joseph Glackin
Joseph Glackin3 years ago

John B~~~~

The "shooter' at Va. Tech was Korean. Does that make him black in your world?
btw, he was also determined to be profoundly insane. He did NOT wave any Korean flags, if that helps you compare him to Dylann.

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John Browning
John Browning3 years ago

Where is the article expressing how race can't be ignored in the case of the VA shooter? Why does "Care2" completely ignore this incident and other black on white violence? How about black on black or any other race violence? Not a peep.

9 people being murdered in a church is horrible but how is it more horrible than 9 other people murdered over the course of the same day? The answer, it isn't. It is just more sensational because the media loves their single incident body counts and when they can point out a white racist. The public laps it up and doesn't even care they are being played. If race is left out or not repeatedly mentioned by the lamestream media you can bet all your chips that the criminal is not white. As far as this site goes you can make the same bet that you won't even see the incident mentioned.

There are always multiple articles here if the shooter is white but you are terrified of reporting or complaining about any violence committed by anyone that is black. Staggering hypocrisy from this author and this site which are both absolutely contributors to the increasing racial tensions just like our current divider in chief.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

Why does it seem it's only racism if it's white on black? There are racists of every color. I have been on the receiving end of racism coming from blacks. We never hear about the black on white crimes.

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