Saturday, February 24 , 2018, 2:42 am | Fair 36º


Ken Williams: Fox News, NRA, Donald Trump and the South Carolina Massacre

Yet again the savage echoes of gunshots mingle with the cries of the dying. Yet again we stand helpless with our hands at our sides while a gunman cuts down the best among us.

And yet again, Fox News and other apologists for the gun lobby led by the National Rifle Association stumble over themselves telling a disbelieving world how guns had nothing to do with it.

America is a society armed to the teeth. We have militias strapped with the best killing rifles money can buy. We have extremists with nearly fully automatic rifles running through our forests playing war and sharing fantasies that the Army is conducting training exercises in Texas as a prelude to a military takeover!

And if that isn’t bad enough, we have the Texas governor asking his state militia to keep an eye on our own Army to ensure ... what? That the fanatical extremists’ fantasy that they so crave doesn’t come to pass.

Words have consequences. The day before the horrific slaughter, Donald Trump announced his presidential campaign by vilifying and demonizing a part of our population. According to him, Mexican immigrants are nothing but dope dealers and rapists, existing only by the grace of welfare.

Really? Who does he think builds his hotels? Who cleans them? Who picks the fruits and vegetables he and his billionaire pals eat?

To cast millions of people to such ugly stereotyping is inhumane and unjust. It only feeds into the racism that many in our country try so hard to deny yet accept with winks to one another.

The young man who is now a mass murderer is an American terrorist who proudly wears the emblems of the old racist regimes of Rhodesia and South Africa. On his car’s license plate is the battle flag of the Confederacy. He states his intentions to launch a race war. His enthusiasm for segregation is proudly shared with his friends.

Yet presidential candidates and the talking heads of Fox News shake their heads in bafflement, pontificating that we will never know what motivated him. Really? The words out of his own mouth weren’t enough? The symbols of racial hatred that he so proudly wore don’t represent his worldview?

Perhaps they stumble on the logic that symbols of racism breed racism because they themselves have worked so hard to hide that very racism. They proclaim that the battle flag of the Confederacy has nothing to do with racism but merely pays respect to the soldiers who fought.

Is that what we see when we look at the dreaded “Death’s Head” of the Nazi SS? Merely a sign of the honorable service of men on behalf of their country?

Or do we look beyond the propaganda of the lunatic fringe and Holocaust deniers and see what those men fought for, the concentration camps and the deaths of millions of innocent men, women and children on behalf of a nightmare in possession of an evil man.

The Confederate flag is the American swastika. It stands for a cause that enslaved millions. Killed millions more. Tore families apart, and sold human beings as nothing but commodities.

The brutal reality of the Old South is drenched in blood — as are the screams of men whipped, women raped, children torn from their mothers and fathers. That is what that flag stands for.

If South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and the other apologists for that flag really want to start a true healing process, let them start with the removal of that symbol of white supremacy and hatred. Start with acknowledging the horrific legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Let Fox News be honest and apologize for what they contributed by their constant denial of the racism that lingers as a cancer in our country. Let Trump apologize to the hard-working immigrants who keep us fed, our hotels and restaurants clean, build our homes, and take care of our sick and elderly in nursing homes.

The ones who died that sad day in Charleston, S.C., represented the best of our citizenry. The silent and hard-working majority who toil in our libraries, churches and even in our government who make us what we are. They are not the loud-mouth Trumps, whose egos could float an ocean liner, nor the talking heads who pontificate their warped hatred in barely concealed contempt of those different than themselves.

We all should stand with our heads bowed, our hands held in prayer honoring the tragic deaths of our neighbors. We should vow that the NRA no longer has a stranglehold over common-sense gun control. We should vow that, whatever it takes, we will not fear and hate each other, and guns will no longer speak for us.

This has happened too many times. We have to strive to become better than accepting as normal this ongoing slaughter that has cursed our nation too many years. Stop the worship of guns and the glorification of the gun culture. Guns kill and leave lives forever afflicted in their deadly wake.

Let us start worshipping the sanctity of life, and honoring those at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church who have paid the ultimate price for the gun fetish.

In loving memory:

» Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, pastor and speech therapist

» Cynthia Hurd, 54, librarian

» Susie Jackson, 87

» Ethel Lance, 70

» Depayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, the church’s minister

» State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, 41, the church’s pastor

» Tywanza Sanders, 26, hero

» Daniel Simmons Sr., 74

» Mira Thompson, 59

Ken Williams has been a social worker for the homeless for the past 30 years, and is the author of China White, Shattered Dreams: A Story of the Streets and his first nonfiction book, There Must Be Honor. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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