On Thursday night, an NRA board member manipulated the national tragedy at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church by turning the murders into an argument for his political gain, because this is America.

According to Think Progress, when a Texas CHLForum commenter pointed out that one of the victims, church pastor Clementa Pinckney, was also a South Carolina state legislator, the NRA’s Charles L. Cotton responded:

And he voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.

Cotton essentially blamed Senator Pinckney and his stance on concealed handguns for the murders, even though those people were shot to death in cold blood by a racist white man who’d allegedly planned to mass-murder innocent black people for months.

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But you’d hardly know that if you picked up Friday’s South Carolina Post and Courier:

Why not publish a photo of Dylann Roof, the racist shooter of those nine victims? Don’t bury the lede.

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Meanwhile, as the NRA tries to make this shooting death about their right to carry, rather than limiting gun sales to people who may have designs on igniting race wars, white supremacists across the internet want you to know that, OMG, Dylann Roof doesn’t represent them!

On a site called Stormfront, according to the Huffington Post, someone called WhiteNationhood wrote:

“This is going to be really bad, I’m afraid,” wrote WhiteNationhood in a discussion thread on the white nationalist site Stormfront. “Condolences to the families.”

“The media and the left will use this to support their narrative that whites are slaughtering blacks,” added MattwhiteAmerica. “It will not matter what the truth is.”

The truth is, a white man shot and killed nine people in one of the most historical black churches in this country. It makes me wonder if the commenter’s truth is also Roof’s truth: “I have to do it,” Roof shouted before killing his victims mid-bible study. “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

If Roof sounds familiar, it’s probably because he’s essentially quoting the crux of D.W. Griffith’s 1915 The Birth of a Nation, the Ku Klux Klan propaganda film casting white men as saviors of white women besieged by black men, cast as rape-happy mongrels. That movie is 100 years old, yet here we are in modern times, grappling with the same issues.

Back on Stormfront, the commenters then hoped Roof’s motivations were actually anti-Christian, instead of anti-black.

“Lets not jump to conclusions and call him a WN [white nationalist] until there is an indication as such... The fact that he targeted a church gives me an inkling that it was religion-related,” wrote WhiteVirginian.

Another commenter proved that Roof was absolutely the spawn of their type of thinking:

“Okay, so I guess there is no question now, it was a white guy with a bad haircut,” conceded GERyMOR. The user then suggested that the reasons Roof reportedly gave to his victims moments before he shot them are legitimate societal concerns. “It’s a shame this happened and I do feel bad for the victims and their families. However, it’s making me sick (although no surprise) how this is being spun by the media. Racially charged killings? It’s a fact that Blacks commit way more crimes per capita and behave a certain way, that’s why they get chased and hurt. They do rape our women, and they are taking over our country and cost way too much money to maintain. But none of these points will ever be addressed because then it would bring open discussion to the NEGRO PROBLEM IN OUR SOCIETY ... which is theREAL news.”

But Roof was not a “bad apple” as another Stormfront commenter wrote. He is the product of the racist dog whistles America pretends to ignore—though African Americans can’t, because things like that will kill us. The motivations behind the murders of unarmed black people that started the #blacklivesmatter movement, and shocking lack of convictions therein, reinforce those same white supremacist cornerstones depicted in a silent film 100 years ago. It is the idea that black people are dangerous and must be disenfranchised, stamped out and destroyed. Don’t act like those tenets didn’t influence Roof to do exactly what he did.

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Now listen to South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford defend his state’s continued use of the Confederate flag, a symbol of all that was just described. Sanford basically says he’s not ready to take it down yet because of tradition, “heritage and state’s rights.”

Even during the aftermath of a terrorist act like Roof’s, he’s not ready to remove a symbol that’s the embodiment of protecting slavery, subjugating black people for financial and political gain and being willing to die for that cause? If not now, when?


Contact the author at Hillary@jezebel.com.

Image via AP.