Dylann Storm Roof, 21, has been arrested for the shooting of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. All of the victims were black and Roof reportedly shouted racist comments before opening fire. He has since confessed that the killings were an attempt to start a race war.

Since the killings, there has been an entirely appropriate outpouring of support for the victims beginning with President Obama and continuing with South Carolina Governor Nicki Haley, Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, The Reverend Al Sharpton and countless others. They are unanimous in their condemnation of Roof and of racism.

Virtually every newspaper, TV station, radio station, blog and Twitter feed has published its take on what caused the tragedy and what needs to be done to avoid similar acts in the future. It comes as no surprise that few if any outlets are blaming their side or calling for a ban of something they favor. Indeed, since we are unfortunately getting pretty good at this, there is a certain outpouring of “don’t trot out that mental health thing to defend your guns,” “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and “don’t you dare say it is not racism.” These are the standard responses in the public relations playbook.

If you would like to read about all of that, there are countless sources of such information. I doubt much of it is designed to solve the problem as much as it is designed to create “look good” expressions of sympathy and to advance other agendas.

Kindly spare me any “how could you not say this” comments, as I would like to look at this story from a different perspective.

With thanks to Katie Zavadski of the Daily Beast, here is a link to a short bio of Dylann Storm Roof. Take a moment to read it then look at the picture.

Zavidski’s story presents a pretty bleak picture of Roof’s education, judgment and wisdom, but let’s see for ourselves by asking him a few questions.

  1. Here is a map of the world; can you point out South Africa?
  2. How about Rhodesia; where is that?
  3. What is the name of Rhodesia now?
  4. Who was the leader of South Africa at the time you admired the country enough to wear its flag on your jacket?
  5. Who was the leader of Rhodesia at the time you admired the country enough to wear its flag on your jacket?
  6. What has happened in each country since that time?
  7. Dylann, I notice you did not know any of the answers to my first six questions so let me end with an easier one: who told you about those patches and their meaning and why?

America has a rich history of clever people fueling up stupid people for personal gain or power. Tell them they are victims. Tell them they are oppressed. Tell them they are getting screwed. Tell them you will fight for them. Pay the clever person back with dollars or votes. It is getting easier and easier.

Most people agree that fueling up a Dylann Storm Roof to start a race war by shooting up a church is reprehensible.

Maybe not quite so many people agree that fueling up a class war versus the Top 1% or “the corporations” or welfare queens or makers and takers is quite so reprehensible.

Maybe very few people believe that demonizing Democrats or Republicans depending on which you aren’t is a bad thing at all.

Are those who defend the seemingly more benign practices actually trying to solve anything or just win an election? How do they differ from the clever person who fueled up Dylan Storm Roof and turned him in to a murderer?

The First Amendment stands in the way of prohibiting clever people from telling stupid people stupid things even if those stupid things might have serious consequences, but the First Amendment does not stop clever people from refraining from doing so.

Here is a little experiment.

Below is a list of 20 candidates for President and the two major political parties. Each promises in one way or another to make America great.

The names most readers will not recognize are the leaders of the presidential campaigns and the party chairs.

These 22 people could set an example. They could pledge not to demonize their opponents or portray their supporters as victims.

They could pledge not to make the case for their side using tactics similar to  the guy who turned Dylann Storm Roof into a racist murderer.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please raise your hands. The candidates may feel free to join in. Pacs and other affiliated organizations too.

Candidate/Party          Party               Campaign Manager *

Joe Biden                    D                    Will Pierce

Jeb Bush                     R                     Danny Diaz

Ben Carson                 R                     Barry Bennett

Lincoln Chafee            D                     could not find it

Chris Christie              R                     Mike DuHaime

Hillary Clinton            D                     John Podesta, Robbie Mook

Ted Cruz                     R                     Jeff Roe

D N C Chair               D                     Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Carly Fiorina               R                     Frank Sadler

Mike Huckabee           R                     Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Bobby Jindal               R                     Timmy Teepell

John Kasich                R                     Matt Carle

Martin O’Malley        D                     Bill Hyers

Rand Paul                    R                     Chip Englander

Rick Perry                   R                     Jeff Miller

R N C Chair                R                     Reince Priebus

Marco Rubio               R                     Terry Sullivan

Bernie Sanders            D                     Jeff Weaver

Rick Santorum            R                     Terry Allen

Donald Trump            R                     Corey Lewandowski

Scott Walker               R                     Rick Wiley

Jim Webb                    R                     David “Mudcat” Saunders

 

* It is not always easy to be sure who is really in charge because there are campaign committees, supporting organizations and differing titles but you get the gist.

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