Walking the Cat . . .

Because life's kinda like that . . .

WHAT IF . . .?

with 4 comments

There was a moment, in the aftermath of the obscenely tragic events that occurred in Charleston, South Carolina last week, when things could have turned out very differently.

In the hours after his arrest, during which time Dylann Roof admitted killing 9 members of a prayer group at Emanuel AME Church, he is alleged to have said, “I almost didn’t do it . . .because they welcomed me.”

In the media avalanche — the news stories, the media spin, the anger and the grief — those words stuck in my mind, and I wondered, “What if. .  ?”

Dylann Storm Roof is a poster child for white supremacist, racial hatred.  Possessed of a minimal education — he’s said to be a school drop-out — and with few (I’m guessing here) friends, if any; he, in all likelihood, never experienced any personal interaction with anyone of color. He had nothing of personal experience against which to gauge the validity of the hate-mongering, racist garbage that formed — that he allowed to form — the lens through which he viewed the world.

But there was a moment — maybe only a heartbeat of time, a nanosecond — when the lens cracked; not enough to shatter, but it cracked. And maybe, just maybe, if Dylann Roof had chosen to let that ‘heartbeat of time’ continue, things would have ended differently. But he didn’t, they didn’t. Dylann Roof chose, instead, to slaughter 9 innocent people; people who had welcomed him into their midst.

As I write this, somewhere (maybe a lot of somewhere), in some dank cellar meeting room or some abandoned building, men with an even greater hatred than filled Dylann Roof are holding up his picture and hailing him as a “hero”. And that fills me with a sense of shame.

I don’t know the answer to the Dylann Roofs of the world, and I doubt anyone does. I do know that taking down a piece of cloth from the South Carolina statehouse won’t do anything but allow some people to feel as though they “did something”. They didn’t. There will always be a Neandertal, white supremacist scumbag chumming the internet with bigotry and hate, waiting for the next under-educated, lonely, disenchanted boy to nibble his garbage.

Like I said, I don’t have an answer. I wish I did, I really do, but I don’t. All I have is this deeply felt, lingering sense of shame.

It’s enough to make me almost sympathize with Rachel Dolezal.


Written by stevewthomas

June 24, 2015 at 12:15 am

Posted in changing careers

4 Responses

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  1. I really do wish that there were universal answers as to why the darkest parts of the human condition are sometimes the only ones we see; the only ones that we really work with and within. I’d certainly like to understand why such ilk seems to prey upon kids that are just looking for answers. They’re looking for answers and a purpose and that purpose turns to darkness. Shame indeed. Shame and pain and confusion.


    June 24, 2015 at 10:04 am

    • So true, Sara. . .the saddest part of all of this is Dylann Roof was looking for answers and in the absence of any real answers, the ones he found turned him from a confused and (I’m guessing here) frightened boy into an unimaginably vile monster.


      June 24, 2015 at 11:31 am

  2. Steve,

    I was reading your piece and it was making me think of the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris earlier this year. Whether we call them Supremacists, islamists or isis, these killers come from intolerance, ignorance and xenophobia. You are right, I am sure, that some connection at some point in time with different people could have turned them around. The Charlie Hebdo killers had been brained washed by some rhetoric of some kind. This Charleston killer could have opened up or listened to other voices. But, ultimately, we know we can’t kill people because we don’t agree with them. We know that acid humour does not make a moquery of a religion. All we have is our freedom of speech and our reason to try to make sense of these horrible events.

    Mrs. Street

    June 24, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    • Thank you, Mrs. Street, for that different take on a widespread problem with no easy or straightforward answers. It is, sad to say, left to each of us to use what intellect we have to decide the rigntness or wrongness of our actions. To paraphrase (rip-off, in truth) the medieval knight from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” . . .In both these instances, “They chose poorly”. Thanks for the input. I have a feeling there’s a post coming as a result of your conversation. -S-


      June 24, 2015 at 6:00 pm

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