The Right Wing media’s reaction to the murder of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, SC by an avowed white racist has been horrifying, embarrassing and predictable. They have spun out and discussed every possible excuse for Dylann Roofs’ killing spree, from drugs to mental illness to an anti-Christian bias, except the correct one; Roof is a virulent racist intent on starting a race war pitting whites against blacks. Whether Roof even understands the Christian Identity roots of his beliefs, they were watered and nurtured by the insidious, coded racism of the mainstream conservative media, from FOX News to Limbaugh to the Drudge Report.
America’s favorite crazy uncle, Bill O’Reilly, went on a tirade recently claiming anyone who thinks we are a racist country is anti-American, and that the actions of Roof do not reflect the feelings of the vast majority of whites. As a Salon writer points out, that same argument doesn’t seem to hold much water when the perpetrator is Muslim or a minority.
The attempt by conservatives to whitewash institutional racism in America is disingenuous at best, as day in and day out they continuously use broad brush strokes to characterize immigrants, Muslims, African Americans, etc. as all members of the same herd with the ultimate goal of destroying traditional (white) America. This theme is incessant and no one who understands the code words and inferences believes it is anything other than thinly cloaked racism. That’s why the term “bully” is so appropriate for people like O’Reilly and Limbaugh, because like their schoolyard counterparts, they tease, harass and verbally insult their victims on a daily basis, yet when the person being persecuted finally turns around and punches them in the nose, they whine and cry that “I didn’t do nothin’.”
Institutional racism continues to exist in America, and there are libraries of research and data to confirm this. That the Right Wing media is working so hard to deny this makes them look even more out of touch with reality than ever. Dylann Roof is no Lone Wolf, but the product of a conservative media machine that feeds its consumers a steady diet of hate and anger and victimization that is bound to be acted on by one of the tribe. And, if nothing changes, there is no reason to believe it won’t happen again.