he came to them, and they welcomed him. he sat among them and heard their kind words. in the end, he hurled racial epithets at them and killed nine of them. then he fled, soon to be apprehended. this killer was not choked to death by the police, as a black man was in new york for stealing a pack of cigarettes. this killer was not shot in the back by the police, as a black man was in south carolina for fleeing from a policeman. this killer was taken into custody without a struggle, and almost immediately those who would perpetuate the society which fostered this killer began to rationalize away the racism that filled his heart.
he must have been high on drugs, they said. he killed them because they were christians, not because they were black, they said. he killed them because they didn't carry guns and couldn't defend themselves, they said. it was the victims' fault, they said, because their leader promoted a message of non-violence and espoused the cause of reasonable gun laws in his role as a state senator.
they looked at the symbols with which he surrounded himself and declared that the symbols didn't matter. it's ok to fly a flag on the grounds of the state capitol, even though that flag glorifies a past that forced thousands of people of color to live in the most degrading and cruel conditions, a past that ripped thousands of free men and women from their native lands to live as the property of others, they said. "that flag is part of our heritage," they said, failing to mention that heritage is disgraceful and ought to be disavowed in the strongest terms. it's insignificant that he posed in pictures with that flag, they said. it's unimportant that he wore clothing that pictured the flags of white-supremacists regimes in africa, they said.
how can the right-wing apologists be so blind? or is it blindness, at all? is it pandering to the bigots in society in order to win their votes, to keep the bigots on the side of right-wing politicians who depend on the racists to stay in power, especially in the former confederate states? contrast their ignoring the cause of the young killer's actions with the speech of the victims' families. "i forgive him," was the litany that was heard coming from their mouths and hearts.
may we have hearts filled with forgiveness. may we go the extra mile for those who demand the first mile of us. may we pray for those who "despitefully use" us. may we condemn a past that visited unspeakable horrors on so many innocents. may we refuse to see those who appear different as "others" who are a threat. shalom.