‘Guns don’t kill people, say the libertarians primly: people kill people. Yes, you want to shriek, but guns HELP’ – Sam Leith

Evil? Madness? Tragedy? Nutter? White Supremacist?

Dylann Roof, a young white man armed with noxious hatred and a .45-caliber pistol, has been given a multitude of labels after he walked into a historic black church in Charleston and killed nine people. But what are we really supposed to make of this massacre? Are we even surprised when Breaking News flashes on our television screens with yet another mass shooting across the Atlantic?

South Carolina is somewhere I called home. Somewhere I’ll always feel connected to. Somewhere I’m visiting next week. So here I am, gazing across the Atlantic in sympathy and perplexity (Are they even the correct nouns to use?). When I stare at the sullen face of Dylann Roof plastered across the national and tabloid papers, and at the families of his victims at prayer – what am I supposed to think? That this could have been prevented? That the mindless boy posing with guns and burned flags wasn’t a threat?

The massacre of nine African-Americans in Charleston was not simply a one-off hate crime. Nor can it be justified by saying it was executed by a mentally ill, unstable racist.

Whether at Virginia Tech, Columbine High School, or Sandy Hook, these shootings harshly represent the widespread racism embedded in America

Last year I took a wide variety of American Literature classes, from Haunted American Ghost Stories to Postmodern Blackness in American Lit. Richard Wright was one of the prominent authors I studied, and the following passage appears in his non-fiction memoir Black Boy. Wright underlines some of the faults he finds in America, complaining that his country is both superficial and self-deceptive, qualities that result in intolerance and exclusion.

Our too-young and too-new America … insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity. It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it cannot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it salves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness. Am I damning my native land? No; for I, too, share these faults of character!

The Charleston shooting was not just a glitch. It was racism, and racism kills. But we already knew this. This isn’t new news.

From the posts I’ve seen my fellow South Carolina friends make online over the past week, they are grieving and in shock, but they are also oozing with pride at the way this ‘tragedy’ has been dealt with. They will not be defined by one individual. But it is the masses that concern me. The deep rooted beliefs.

I’m still trying to find the answer, that is, where to place the blame. I guess one response is that the shootings were just a one off instance of human madness which can happen anytime, anywhere – but that seems like an awful excuse. To make it appear like an event like this can’t be understood, can’t be prevented – also a terrible excuse. That Roof’s actions were the result of an alleged mental illness – again an excuse deferring from the real issue, which is, of course, racism.

3 thoughts on “‘Guns don’t kill people, say the libertarians primly: people kill people. Yes, you want to shriek, but guns HELP’ – Sam Leith

  1. Unfortunately I don’t think even gun control would have prevented this crime. This gun was owned legally!


  2. I’ve observed that in the world the present moment, video games are the latest popularity with kids of all ages. Periodically it may be extremely hard to drag your family away from the video games. If you want the best of both worlds, there are various educational games for kids. Interesting post.


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