Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old male that confessed to fatally shooting nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, has been captured. Roof is white. All of his victims are black. Despite that, some have suggested that Roof’s actions may not be racially motivated. Instead, they maintain that religious intolerance could be his rationale. I find that view baffling.
Why look past the most obvious motivation, especially one that is consistent with the overwhelming majority of known evidence?
The idea that this was a targeted attack motivated by racist beliefs is more than plausible considering the testimony of an eyewitness, Roof’s confession, and the meaning behind patches worn by the murderer. What does it say about an individual that fails to acknowledge racial prejudice as a primary cause in light of this information?
People’s assumptions are a reflection of their biases.
If the public is unable or unwilling to think about the underlying causes of violent acts of this nature, then what will prevent them from reoccurring? If this horrendous incident is the result of a random, causeless evil, then the public is defenseless against another attack.
Moreover, any claims about Roof’s condition like mental illness, as opposed to other factors such as cultural influence, ought to be backed up by evidence. Clearly Roof is a disturbed individual. Still, he could have acquired his worldview from the world around him. While I support the Second Amendment, it is important to recognize that carrying a weapon will not stop a hate-filled bullet from piercing the flesh of the innocent and unsuspecting. Also, bullets in a chamber cannot halt bullets mid-flight. A gun offers a means of retaliation, but not necessarily prevention.
Today is a time for mourning and tomorrow is a time for healing. The weeks ahead, however, should be devoted to seeking answers. My hope is that the public will summon the courage to ask penetrating, honest questions.
David Walker is a lifestyle photographer and graphic designer. He also publishes weekly essays and short podcast talks on his blog, TheAugustan.com.