Let me get this straight: A man who happens to be white guns down nine African-Americans in a church in South Carolina in June and it is immediately labeled a racist hate crime.
There is a massive outcry around the country about how this is another attack on the black community, coming on the heels of the shootings of members of that segment by white police officers. The eternal opportunist the Rev. Al Sharpton is trotted out before the television cameras once again to rail against the injustice of it all, and condemn America for being a racist state.
Then we fast-forward to late August, when an African-American man guns down two employees of a Roanoke, Virginia, television station who are white.
Another senseless and tragic act, yes — which seem to be happening with disturbing frequency — only this time around there is little or no mention of the race factor.
Instead, such issues as workplace strife and the usual whipping boy, the easy availability of guns, are being targeted as the reasons behind Wednesday morning’s shooting.
To get an idea of how the race relationship to Wednesday’s cold-blooded murders is being grossly sidestepped by the press and the so-called social experts who’ve offered opinions about the incident, you need to consider only one thing. That is, how would this week’s shooting be handled had the victims been black and the shooter white?
Of course, everyone (including the Rev. Al) would be coming out of the woodwork to scream about the latest example of hate perpetrated by the racist white society.
Even if one adopts the common notion nowadays that members of minorities are incapable of making a mistake, the way the Virginia case is being presented is terribly wrong.
Somehow there seems to be a problem with acknowledging that blacks can be just as racist as white people have been portrayed in the media. Whites are singled out for their racist acts, and rightfully so, yet the problem is that when black-on-white violence occurs the racial aspect is selectively and subjectively downplayed.
Not long after the smoke had cleared from the shooting at the historically African-American church in Charleston, it not only was labeled a racist act, but U.S. authorities stepped in to offer their clout. They declared that federal hate-crime indictments would be issued against the shooter in addition to murder and other charges in the state of South Carolina.
This was a reasonable expectation, since the lunatic responsible, Dylan Roof, had prepared a manifesto in which he decided to seek out and murder African-Africans because of their color.
Well, since we’re talking manifestos here, Vester Lee Flanagan II (aka Bryce Williams), the person who shot the two TV journalists to death this week, had one of his own. In it, the soon-to-be killer professes his willingness to engage in a race war, writing that this desire to inflict violence was triggered by the incident in Charleston, calling it the “tipping point.”
“What sent me over the top was the church shooting,” Flanagan wrote in documents he recently had faxed to ABC News.
Flanagan also said he put the initials of the Charleston victims on the hollow-point bullets that he ended up using Wednesday, he praised the Virginia Tech and Columbine High School mass killers and says he had been attacked for his sheer existence as a gay black man.
So, not a racist hate crime, huh? If what Vester Lee Flanagan did Wednesday does not qualify as that kind of act, I don’t know what could.
I realize there are certain political-correctness factors at play today which serve to deflect any type of criticism away from racial minorities and gays. However, when it comes to violent crimes, fair is fair.
Such acts targeting people of any persuasion are deplorable, and all should be treated equally in the investigation and reporting of the underlying factors responsible.
In the wake of recent violence, the slogan “black lives matter” has become popular, whenever it probably would have been better to promote the idea that “all lives matter.”
We will never fully come together as a society until there is an understanding that if we choose to classify everything in racial, rather than human, terms, members of each race should be judged by the same criteria.
As a wise person once said, our respective ancestors might have arrived in this country on different ships — but we’re all in the same boat now.
Tom Joyce is a staff writer for The Mount Airy News. He may be reached at 336-415-4693.