North Texas Daily

Amid Charleston shooting, a time to reflect

Amid Charleston shooting, a time to reflect

June 20
13:33 2015

The Editorial Board

The rich symbolism surrounding the mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, needs not only fuel the nation’s rhetoric in speaking on the matter, but used as an aid in this time of reflection and mourning.

Dylann Roof, 21, murdered nine people Wednesday night at a church in South Carolina that has served as a pillar of African American culture, a reminder of this nation’s past and as a symbol of hope for a community that has been forced to clear its own path toward equality.

But the murderer himself serves as a symbol of radical hate and lingering anger. He reminds us all that racism is a heinous virus that can withstand powerful civil rights movements. Just as the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is a symbol of how far we’ve come, Roof forces us to consider how far we have left to go.

He opened fire on the members of the congregation that surrounded him in prayer, who invited him into their lives to share their God. In the end, nine people lie dead, the ages of which range from 26 to 87. Among them, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a top South Carolina legislator.

President Obama was shaken Thursday when he stood next to Vice President Biden to address the nation on the mass shooting.

“[I am] confident that the outpouring of unity and strength and fellowship and love across Charleston today from all races, from all faiths, from all places of worship indicates the degree to which those old vestiges of hatred can be overcome,” the president said.

He read the words of  Martin Luther King Jr., too,  a moment in history steeped in emotion, a benchmark in time.

Societal changes are an evolutionary process. What came before us is what forms where we are now. Where we are going cannot clearly be determined. Knowledge of our past will guide our mores in shaping our tomorrow.

Hear the lesson from this tragedy. It has reinforced that American people outside the black community appear to have forgotten this nation’s long struggle with racial differences. Racism is not an issue solved with economic prosperity or voting rights. It is an evolving issue, one that must continue to be examined as we move forward, one that is resistant to progress. It is evil. It needs our everlasting attention.

Despite the condolences and prayers from those in power, little can be expected to change until the citizens of this country reject the politicians who are controlled by the gun lobby.
Already, National Rifle Association board member Charles Cotton blamed Rev. Pinckney for the deaths, writing on a forum that Pinckney voted against concealed-carry legislation. Shame on Cotton for seizing a painful moment to defend his own lobby.

We support Obama in his remarks on gun violence in this country. He said the United States has too many mass shootings. You see, guns are woven into our culture (Second Amendment) and people like Cotton will never let us forget about that so long as the we fail to hold our representatives accountable.

But gun control is not but one solution. Samuel L. Jackson captures the essence of violence.

“I don’t think it’s about more gun control,” the actor said. “I grew up in the South with guns everywhere and we never shot anyone. This [shooting] is about people who aren’t taught the value of life.”

Our society seems to be divorced of love, focused on the tensions among races. If we are to live, we must love. It has become tiresome to watch these events, to see the hurt.

UNT is fertile ground for progressive movements. We call on campus leaders to spur activism on this issue. And we encourage all to attend the memorial in Library Mall  at 7:30 tonight. We’ll be there.

Those on both sides of the political spectrum tend to sit back and berate their political enemies as the source of the problem, while citizens are perfectly content to join in and point fingers at members of other faiths, creeds and skin colors. While this realization is not descriptive of all of society, the consequences from ignoring such is resulting in tragedies like Charleston.

The killer’s intentions were evil, but the inspiration can easily be linked to American society. For one, a Confederate battle flag still flies at the South Carolina capitol. That’s not OK. That flag is woven with the threads of oppression, cruelty and pain, a clear reminder of the Civil War and the days of African American enslavement.

For it to remain flying high above the state — when the killer so fervidly lusted at his hatred for blacks as his inspiration to commit this invidious crime — is an indication that this country is too far detached from reality.

There are photos of Roof proudly waiving that flag. That is his own battle flag. And it should not be be endorsed by that state.

And we will continue on in the vicious cycle of ignoring the problem, moving on to the next tragedy, and acting surprised when it happens again. It has become apparent that the generations of duly-appointed officials currently in power are incapable of taking care of these vexing problems which plague us domestically.

We must be vigilant as we inherit the keys to the world to contain our rash, uninformed conclusions and work together to find non-radical, or non-impotent solutions to malignant problems such as these.

Featured Image: Hundreds shuffle inside the Morris Brown A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina to mourn the lives lost in a mass shooting on June 17. Dylan Roof, 21, was charged with nine counts of murder. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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