Blaming their deaths on their race reeks to me of blaming the victim. We did not blame the kids at Sandy Hook; we do not blame rape victims. We did not tell the grieving relatives in Colorado that their loved ones died because they went to a movie. We told them that James Holmes was a criminal psychopath.
Yes, this particular psychopath had craziness is his head that focused on Black Americans. His brain was irreparably diseased. It is horrible that no-one noticed. It is worse that he was allowed to buy a gun. It is a nightmare that will never end for the families and friends of the people he killed.
But if we feed into his insanity we are giving him jurisdiction over our thoughts. Buying into his “I had no choice, I did it because they were Black,” adds weight to racial division that is already at an explosive level. He wanted to start a racial war: feeding into that is allowing him to win, and giving credit to his insanity.
The traditional description of psycopathology involves lack of empathy, lack of normal fear, and no impulse control. These people don’t care about anyone other than themselves: no one else is real to them. They are unable to comprehend danger to themselves. Their impulse control never develops: imagine a 2 year old who has a toy taken away, who immediately lunges to take it back, hitting the other child. Normal adults mature and learn to control their impulses, learn that other people matter. These people never do.
Psychopaths choose their targets based on the craziness circling in their brains. The victims themselves are completely innocent. If we say that they were killed purely because of White on Black racism we are treating Roof as if his thoughts are worth our consideration. They are not.
Horror, grief and anger may push us toward blowing this up, expanding it so that it includes other white men, or all white people, or even all people of any race other than Black.
That is what he wanted.
All young men are not child killers because one chose to murder at Sandy Hook; all men are not rapists because some rape; all parents are not child abusers because some beat their children. These murders could justifiably feed righteous anger and increase racial tensions, but in the end more anger can only bring more injury and death.
Healing will not happen through hatred. Hatred breeds more hatred – it knows no other path. Tolerance and consideration breed understanding; respect breeds respect; time heals.
We cannot feed evil, or it will thrive. His craziness is your endpoint if you allow yourself to hate.
If we want justice for the lives that are lost, and to find some grace in their deaths, we must use it to put an end to racial bigotry. Do the opposite of what he wanted. Say Enough.