The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 20, 2015: Blame Anything But Racism

By 1852, the State of South Carolina was fed up with the Government of the United States and voted to secede from the Union. They forbore exercising the right of secession they claimed “in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other slaveholding States.” That was from the first sentence of South Carolina’s Declaration of Secession. They felt that Slavery was one of their “domestic institutions” and that the refusal of the Northern States to return runaway slaves, as actually required by the Constitution, constituted a breach of the agreement of the original thirteen colonies to be governed under it. So they declared their Independence in much the same manner (and at times quoting) as the Colonies did in our famous Declaration of Independence. (Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Nicholas Cage stole it once and pinned the theft on another guy.) There is no question that Slavery was a part of the Southern Heritage they defend to this day. And to defend Slavery is to defend the idea that some people, in particular black people, are less than human and can be treated morally and legally as property. That heritage is represented to this day by the Confederate Flag, in one form or another. (The “Stars and bars” come in various forms. One was the official National Flag, while another variation formed the Battle Flag.) To many of us, when you proudly display the Confederate Flag, you are insisting that the South was right on Slavery and the North was wrong. This is why the South has the reputation it does for being the home of racists. That does not mean, nor does anyone in the North truly believe, that everybody in the South is a dyed-in-the-wool racist. It does mean that racists can live in the South and not be bothered over their views.

So when a young white supremacist decided to callously murder nine unsuspecting, unarmed black citizens in one of the most famous landmark black churches in American history just because they were black, and for no other reason, the conversation ought to include the subject of racism, and why it is so acceptable to so many people in the South. (Whether or not examples of racism can be found in other parts of the country is completely irrelevant and beside the point. The discussion needs to be about the openly accepted racism in the South.) But conservatives are trying to divert from that topic and blame anything but racism as the reason Dylann Storm Roof killed all those people. People who hadn’t done a thing wrong to him. People who let him sit among them before he told them, “You have to go.” Once pictures of him wearing flags of the white-ruled nations of South Africa and Rhodesia went public, there was no doubt in any right-thinking person’s mind that this massacre was motivated by racial hatred. So it should come as no surprise that Conservatives reject the racism motivation and cling to their guns and bibles, to borrow a phrase.

[NOTE: FTR, what I am about to write I fully intended to write before I sat down to watch Friday night’s Bill Maher show. I didn’t get the idea from him any more than he got his idea from me.]

“We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” [President Obama] said at the White House. Besides the clearly displayed racism shown in the massacre, guns are another issue the Right Wing refuses to discuss openly and fairly. But we can get to what the National Rifle Association (NAMBLA) has to say another time.

And quoting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. after four black girls were killed in the bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Ala., 52 years ago, he said the lessons of this tragedy must extend beyond one city and one church. He cited Dr. King’s words that their deaths were a demand to “substitute courage for caution,” and urging people to ask not just who did the killing but “about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.”

It seems Dr. Martin Luther King’s niece and Fox News Channel contributor, Alveda King, would disagree. [NOTE: Full disclosure/confession/cry-for-help. For reasons surpassing all logical thought, Alveda King decided to follow me on The Twitter. I’m guessing after I questioned her there she’ll be re-thinking that decision. Cool.] She made a truly bizarre leap of logic to conclude that the Charleston Massacre was linked to abortion. You heard me right. Abortion. Okay, maybe you didn’t hear me. Maybe you heard a voice in your head you thought was mine. You should get that checked. And Alveda King should get hers checked, too. Is there something they’re serving in the green rooms at Fox that makes their contributors come out and say bat shit crazy things on live television?

There is no doubt at all that this massacre was motivated solely by racism. None. Zero. But Rick Perry cautions us to wait, we don’t have all the facts. It may turn out drugs were involved. You heard me right. Drugs. (Maybe the drugs are why you can hear me. I know that’s why I can hear you.) That’s after he “misspoke” and called the massacre an “accident”.

Sweater vest aficionado and Presidential Delusions-Filled former Senator Rick Santorum believed it was an attack on our religious liberty, even though at the time he said that it was known this was a purely race-motivated attack. US Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham, currently running for First Lady, sat down with other women on The View to stress the shooting was an attack on Christianity (it most certainly was not), though he seemed to express doubts about whether or not race had anything to do with it (it most certainly did).

Fox & Friends invited Bishop E.W. Jackson who jumped to the conclusion that because this happened in a church, it’s clearly an attack on Christianity. They completely ignore the comments the killer made prior to opening fire on almost everyone in the church (reloading several times) and cold-bloodedly telling one survivor that he was letting her live so she could tell everyone what happened. Which she did. And she said he did it because they were black, and for no other reason.

Also believing the motivation was unknown, SC Gov Nikki Haley emphasized the fact that the shooting took place in a house of worship, without mentioning the racism openly displayed by the killer. NRA Board Member Charles Cotton even went so far as to blame Pastor and SC State Senator Clementa Pinckney for the dead saying his opposition to guns prevented them from being saved. The leaders of Gun Owners of America, father-son duo Larry and Erich Pratt, also blamed Rev Pinckney.

But none of these people on the right want to blame the murders on Racism. Some allow that it may or may not have been a factor (Yes. It clearly was. The killer himself said so to the person he let live so she could tell us why he did it.), but they always reach for something else to blame. And the only logical reason I can think of for why they do it, is because deep down, they don’t want to admit they feel the same way Dylann Storm Roof did. They sympathize with Roof’s racist rantings, but they can never say so publicly. Others probably will. (I’m guessing Rush Limbaugh is going to cross the line on this one sooner or later.) Because they don’t want the South’s history with Slavery and their undying support of it, their view of it as one of their domestic institutions, to come under scrutiny again.

South Carolina still proudly flies the battle flag their army followed when they killed more US Soldiers than any other army in our nation’s history. Maybe we should reconsider our decision to stop them from seceding. And they can take all those people who think racism isn’t a problem with them. The United States will recognize the birthright citizenship of any SC citizen who wishes to remain here in the states. Racists need not apply.

UPDATE: The Perry campaign insists that from the context, it’s clear Governor Perry meant to say “incident,” not “accident.”

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to talk about Racism or any other topic you want, in case that one is a little too uncomfortable for you.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 27, 2014: F-R-C! See the Real Kooks!

Well, it’s that time of year again. Time for self-identified Conservative Christians (an oxymoron, since Jesus could never have been mistaken for a conservative) to gather together and show the world all the hate in their hearts. Yes, it’s the Family Research Council’s 2014 Values Voters Summit, where the elite will never meet, nor the smart start to take part (according to one of their featured speakers). [Courtesy of the good people at Right Wing Watch. A project of People For the American Way dedicated to monitoring and exposing the activities of the right-wing movement.]

But it’s also the place, for reasons that defy conventional logic, where Republicans who one day hope to be the legal occupant of the White House (or a self-serving Member of Congress) feel they must go to solidify their conservative credentials, which is really ironic since there are precious few true conservative values expressed there. Oh, sure, there’s all the gay-bashing Islamophobia one could ever hope to see, but that isn’t true Conservatism. It might be considered Christian Conservatism, but as I said before, that’s an oxymoron. If there’s one thing about Christianity that this Atheist knows for certain, it’s the Golden Rule: Treat other people the way you would like them to treat you. (It also happens to be my own personal guiding principle in life. I just don’t need a fear of going to Hell – which not everyone believes in, including Jews – to make me follow it.) And while I have personal doubts about whether or not the Biblical character known as Jesus actually existed, I’m pretty sure the person described in that book (or in most versions of it) would not say the kinds of things they say at the Values Voters Summit.

For example, there was Bishop E.W. Jackson (the “E.W.” stands for “Everybody’s Wingnut”), who falsely claimed that the Bible defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. Actually, if you read it carefully, that’s not what it says. There’s plenty of polygamy going on in the Bible, including with that of the first King of Israel, David (probably not his real name.) So it is factually incorrect, an important point if you wish to express a valid opinion, to say that marriage “has always been defined” as being between one man and one woman. You don’t even have to go to the Bible for proof. The people living here before the Europeans showed up and screwed everything up had a very different view of marriage. For one thing, it didn’t involve God. For another, it didn’t involve monogamy.

Then there was former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee dropping the huckaboom on the attendees by telling them that the reason Mitt Romney lost in 2012 was because Conservative Christians stayed home. The only problem is that opinion is not supported by the facts. Even Ralph Reed’s organization had polling data that showed exactly the opposite. And they were the only ones who noticed. But why let pesky things like facts get in the way of a good talking point. Or a talking point, anyway.

Then there was former half-Governor Sarah Palin, the woman who tried to be one grumpy old man’s heartbeat away from the presidency. (Do you know who she is?) Palin tried to make the point that…that, well…you know, it’s hard to figure out what point she was trying to make. She seemed more concerned with throwing out standard right-wing insults (Alinsky!) than she was with making a coherent statement. And, like so much of the right wing media, she had to get her digs in on what has become known in conservative circlejerks as the “latte salute.” And like so much of the right wing media’s trash-talking, this was a non-scandal (along with all the other non-scandals Palin rattled off.) There is no requirement that the President do anything in return when a military person salutes him. In fact, presidents didn’t even bother returning salutes until Ronald Reagan started doing it back in the early eighties, and that’s probably because he forgot he wasn’t in the 1st Motion Picture unit anymore. Seriously, it is not as big a deal as they are making it out to be, but that’s because they’ve got nothing, not even the values they claim to have.

Which brings me to one simple question about the “Values Voters Summit”: Whose values? You see, when it comes to defining morality (which, I’m sure the attendees at the summit didn’t know, Ronald Reagan said you can’t legislate), conservatives add more things to the definition than liberals, and give them equal weight! According to Dr. Jonathan Haidt’s studies,

…morality is not just about how we treat each other (as most liberals think); it is also about binding groups together, supporting essential institutions, and living in a sanctified and noble way. When Republicans say that Democrats “just don’t get it,” this is the “it” to which they refer.

Liberals tend to value fairness and equal justice much higher than conservatives, who value all those things listed as equally important. This would explain why Conservative Christians think only Christians should have First Amendment protections, or that only Christians have morals that matter. This is just self-referential opinion, confirmed by other Conservative Christian sources. It’s also a bunch of hypocrisy, since there is nothing “sanctified or noble” about gathering together and bashing the morality of more than half the country.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to talk about the loonies at the VVS, or anything else you wish to discuss.