Fox News on Charleston: Not about race or politics, about hating Christians

Dylann Roof of Columbia, SC, wearing a jacket with apartheid era flags from South Africa and Rhodesia
Dylann Roof of Columbia, SC, wearing a jacket with apartheid era flags from South Africa and Rhodesia

I shouldn’t be surprised by what Fox News does ever, but I have to tell you, their response to the shooting in my home state has me furious.  In a segment on Fox and Friends, they discuss the shooting as an Attack on Faith, fail to mention Reverend Clementa Pinckney’s role as a State Senator, and don’t even mention the race of the shooter and victims until the very end of the segment, when they do so only to s0w doubt — instead they choose to speculate on the anti-Christian motivations of the shooter and suggest that pastors need to start arming themselves to kill intruders.  Turn the other cheek while you reload.

“If we aren’t safe in our churches then where are we safe?” asks Elisabeth Hasselbeck

Fox News, tell me, was that a concern when George Tiller was murdered?  Was that an attack on faith?  Because I sure as hell think so, but it was primarily an attack against women’s right to choose.  But I agree with Christians and other faithful that attacking people at a place of worship is especially heinous.

Steve Doocy: “Extraordinarily, they called it a hate crime. Because it was a white guy, apparently, and a black church, uh, but you made a great point a minute ago about hatred against Christians and it WAS a church, so maybe that’s what they’re talking about, they haven’t explained it to us.”

Reverend E.W. Jackson: “Most people jump to conclusions about race.  I long for the day when we stop doing that in our country, but we don’t know why he went into a church, but he didn’t choose a bar, he didn’t choose a basketball court, he chose a church and we need to be looking at that very closely.”

So, to be clear, Fox believes the fact that he chose a church is something we absolutely should speculate about, but the fact that he was white and chose the oldest black congregation the South is not something we should speculate about.  Nor should we discuss the fact that he ASSASSINATED A STATE SENATOR, who was black.

Let’s be clear, whether the act of terrorism was motivated by race or religion, it was a hate crime, but if it was someone trying to make a statement on religion, why would they shoot at this church, where his motivations will be muddled by accusations of racism?  On the other hand, the church makes a lot of sense for an attack on African-Americans, it’s not like this would be the first time a black church was attacked by racists.  Acts of gun violence are not infrequent in certain locations in Charleston, but they don’t happen in churches.  And where else are you likely to get a lot of likely unarmed, seated, facing one direction group of only black people?

And then we should consider where this happened, in the Charleston, South Carolina, a city that’s so religious that it is known as the Holy City in a state that is one of the most Christian in the country.  It’s also a city that’s so racially segregated that there are routinely news stories on the matter.  A city where last week a cop was indicted for killing a black man for no reason and then planting his taser on him to make him look like a threat — only because someone filmed the encounter.

So we’ve got a city with a known conflict about race and no conflict about religion.

Roof's car has a confederate plate
Roof’s car has a confederate plate

And then there’s the speculation about the gunman himself, the terrorist who did this.  White people on television are already speculating that he was mentally ill, that one must be mentally ill to do this kind of thing.  It is possible that he was mentally ill, but his mental illness is not the cause of this.  The fact that he is full of hatred for a kind of people is why he did this — even if he was an atheist who killed a bunch of Christians and not a white guy who killed a lot of black people, he was motivated by hate, not by mental illness.  Speculating that it’s mental illness only makes it harder for those who need help to seek it, and it doesn’t even make sense.  Please read my former co-blogger Kate Donovan’s piece on the subject.

Dylann Roof is the name of the guy who did this — he is from Columbia and went to White Knoll, which is very close to my home when I was in middle school, and he wears the flags of apartheid era countries on his jacket.  He told the congregation he shot:

I have to do it. You’re raping our women and taking over the country. You have to go.

He still hasn’t been caught.  It’s worth noting that he’s from a suburb of Columbia — Columbia itself is slight majority black.  The suburb he lives in, Lexington, is about 85% white the last time I looked at demographics data.  It’s where white people go to live when they don’t want to live too close to “the bad parts of town” aka black people.

In the meantime, I think we should all call this what it is: terrorism, racism, and a heinous act against people at a place of worship.

UPDATE: Dylann Roof has been caught in Shelby, NC.  And the Post & Courier had a gun shop ad on the front page, right above the story about the shooting.  YEAH SOUTH CAROLINA.



The Daily Beast is already throwing out the “quiet” card, while also somehow interpreting making lots of racist jokes while having Southern Pride as not saying racist things.  Let’s see if they change that.

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Fox News on Charleston: Not about race or politics, about hating Christians

9 thoughts on “Fox News on Charleston: Not about race or politics, about hating Christians

  1. 5

    The lesson here is that when someone is joking, that does not necessarily mean they do not believe the joke. In fact, it often means they do believe something similar, though not exactly similar. That’s why they are telling the joke. A joke is akin to a reflection of the teller in a funhouse mirror; it may be thinner or wider than reality, but it nonetheless reflects reality; that is the point.

    It’s an old lesson for most readers here, but it seems the Daily Beast writer finds it surprising.

  2. 6

    It saddens me that Fox has such a hold on America and poisons our national discussion on everything. A white conservative racist goes on a shooting spree killing blacks and suddenly Fox and their white, conservative viewers are the victims? It’s disgusting and strains (but I refuse to let it break) my support for free speech.

    As an aside, I’m also a creepy looking dude, as I’ve been told. My smile tends not to help. That doesn’t make me a killer, and calling this tormented individual out on the way he looks is superfluous at best, damaging to society at worst. He just killed nine people because he felt they looked wrong. Let’s not continue that.

  3. 7


    I disagree with you, and let me tell you why. This is not a random picture of this guy, it’s a picture he made his profile picture on Facebook. He chose to represent himself in a very particular way. It’s not “how he looks” it’s “how he’s chosen to present himself.” And if there’s any doubt there, you can look at his mugshot and see the difference — how he’s holding himself and the face he’s making are as deliberate a choice of self-presentation as the inclusion of apartheid state flags on his jacket.

  4. 8

    The flags on his jacket are something we don’t have to argue further. I agree with you 100%. I don’t think the swastika on Manson’s forehead should be overlooked, either. Clearly, Roof wanted this picture to convey his racism. But I have a hard time believing he wanted his picture to channel Norman Bates.

    I see now that you were not trying to imply it, but the first two comments sent the “ew, icky ugly people are horrible” vibe. As a reader, I know that’s not your style. You don’t call non-murderous people “Norman Bates crossed with the Children of the Corn,” but that’s an insult others do toss around, nearly identical to ones I suffered, and using it fed into an established bullying meme. I had some flashbacks to high school that were not pleasant. It was a little hurtful, even 20+ years later, married with children, and far too old to be hung up on my appearance.

    However, this is a story about people suffering far more than the comments have made me suffer. If we still disagree, perhaps some time in the future we can discuss that. But this is not the time. I think we both agree and share equal outrage at the actions of Roof and the response by too many. I certainly feel that my personal “fee fees (to borrow Ed’s term)” are a petty distraction from an event that needs our attention. So I’m dropping this squabble for now so you can get back to writing on more important matters.

  5. DS

    Dylann Roof was a right wing conservative CHRISTIAN, like most white supremists. If his motivation was hatred of Christians he could have stopped at any of the myriad churches he passed on his way to this BLACK church.

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