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How Politicians, Media, and the Gun Lobby Enable Racist Terror


How Politicians, Media, and the Gun Lobby Enable Racist Terror

Sonali Kolhatkar

On September 15, 1963, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, was bombed, killing four African-American girls. The incident shocked people around the nation and galvanized the civil rights movement, making leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. even more determined to end segregation. Just as that horrific attack was a reflection of racist violence and became a pivotal event in the civil rights movement, so too should the Charleston shooting be seen as a seminal moment, indicative of simmering racial hatred.


… this is truly the scenario of ‘crabs in a barrel,’ in which we’re all trying desperately to get out, but those beneath are continuously pulling us back down. From above, the wealthy elites, who have effectively bought our legislators & democratic & judicial processes in the meanwhile, cheer on our battle in the ‘barrel’ of life in this - our former ‘civil society.’ How this all came to such a point where ignorance & complacency allowed ‘electronic voting’ to replace real people casting ballots for the direction our civic culture proceeds, is the greatest mystery of all. Looking at TV & our fellow citizens in action all around us, foretells of a people & culture detached from itself. Our minds are loaded w/such evils, entertainment is now spilling out into real life as a consequence. Then we have small-minded, immature ‘children’ - unguided from the start & unable to find their way in such an awesome, confounding & perplexing world, they can only gravitate to elements which mean them no good whatever. Our Democracy has been locked away from us. The real question now is, do we have the fortitude to put up the fight necessary to TAKE IT BACK, in the intelligent, enlightened ways our genius dictates we must? Out-thinking savage barbarians isn’t all that hard after all…


The rhetoric with which we describe racially-motivated violence, or religiously-motivated violence for that matter, has proven itself to be far, far beyond the point. Calling one a terrorist, or not, in no way solves anything and, in fact, contributes to the proliferation of more war and violence. While we are deciding what to call it, more people are dying, usually including the perpetrator. More families are casualties of losing their loved ones. By labeling angry Muslims, Islamists terrorists, we put ourselves in the position of having to declare war against them. All we have accomplished is to kill huge numbers of innocent civilians and create more terrorists. I believe our leaders understand this all too well. Recorded terrorist attacks in the 1970’s were in the neighborhood of 250, today they are well over 10,000 per year despite all the dollars we have put in to “exterminating the threat”. It is now safer to be a member of the military fighting terrorists than it is to be a civilian in the Middle East. Our leaders know that once we declare racists to be terrorists we will have to spend the same kind of money that we spend rooting out Islamic terrorists. To what end? To create more racially motivated terrorists? What our leaders are too cowardly to do, and what the rest of us have failed in, is to honestly look at all the ways that racism remains an infection within our society and resolve to pull it out by its roots. That also requires the recognition that many of us like the privilege our whiteness gives us and the courage to give this up for the good of all. Once we understand that true equality and unity will produce much greater happiness and prosperity than privilege, we will have a positive action to take rather than a negative, defensive one. We can “fight” racism all day long without much result, except to create more racists, or we can work to positively change what it is possible to change by working together. However, no solution is truly viable unless it includes, as well, the terrible disconnect that many of our youth experience within society that makes them every bit as vulnerable as Muslim youth to extremist recruiters. I hope that this terrible event will serve to bring people together from all races and religions to create a new vision of our oneness and to root out within the society itself the last vestiges of the pernicious disease of racism.


Anti-intellectualism and the rise of ignorance, xenophobia, misogyny, and much other reactionary backsliding has been correlated with the pervasion of right-wing media channels and pundits. Reactionaries with an agenda are practiced in appealing to the basest fears lurking in the mindsets of the provincials. I have also witnessed mainstream cable news like CNN slide farther to the right, as they perceive this to be warranted by the the desires of the viewers and political constituents (it’s for the RATINGS!). Fear-mongering “RED ALERTS!” and scare crawlers seem to have the masses glued to the screens.
Dehumanize “the other”, pander to the masses’ basest fears, smear and threaten the “liberal” which has become a label of debasement and then arm the paranoid, xenophobic public - it’s a recipe for disaster.
There is even an online hit list on notable liberals!
This sort of threatening “free” speech is spread far and wide on the internet as well as right-wing radio.
This dangerous precedent needs to be countered while we still have The First Amendment (or what’s left of it) on our side!
A response to one of my posts from another thread:

“Spoken like a true Liberal.”