As America struggles to cope with yet another mass shooting, this one with an appalling racial motivation to it, it is atrocious to watch the right-wing circus of media pundits and presidential hopefuls attempt to rewrite the narrative, either omitting the racial aspect at all or twisting the story to make it about them and their ‘religious freedom’, all the while blaming President Obama for “politicizing” the issue with his focus on America’s rampant gun proliferation and the need to impose some kind of rational limits on the ease with which Americans can access tools of murder.
So it is with immeasurable disgust that we must grapple with the atrocious comments made by an NRA board member, Charles Cotton, who had the astonishing nerve to blame the slain Rev. Clementa Pinckney for the deaths of his congregation. Cotton posted on an online forum that “And he voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”
There are few words capable of describing just how offensive those remarks are. In one swoop, he has stripped the murderous racist of his agency and placed the blame on the victims. It absolves himself of the heavy burden of guilt that he and the other weapon fetishists in the NRA carry for the suffering, pain, and death that their legislative terrorism has wrought on our nation. It uses the deaths of nine people as an excuse to propagate his own political agenda, the same agenda that lead to the ease with which a racist scumbag acquired a deadly weapon and commit a hate crime. He even sinks so low as to chastise the pastor for voting against allowing tools of murder in a house of God- the last place anyone should be carrying.
To add insult to injury, further investigation on the website reveals that Cotton has posted remarks bemoaning the fact that the South had lost the Civil War, and implicitly the institution of slavery and the racist social dichotomy and power structures that accompany it. It’s just another example of the constant outpouring of privileged discrimination that oozes from the far right every time something like this happens, ignoring the symbolic importance of the church or the severity of the racial statements made by the coward that perpetrated the attack but instead directly supporting the racial subjugation of African-Americans that America was supposed to have ended after the Civil War.
It clearly hasn’t. It simply took on new and different forms, and we need to have a serious national discourse about race in this country, and take this opportunity as a chance to mourn, and to heal. It should not be used by vile and heartless fascists like Cotton as an excuse to make the problem worse.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.