The Shameful Liberal Exploitation of the Charleston Massacre

Heather MacDonald writes: The racist massacre of nine black worshippers at a Charleston, S.C., church on June 17 was an act of such heinous ugliness that it demands to be scrutinized for any larger meanings it may possess. That the victims had graciously welcomed the murderer, Dylann Roof, to their Bible study class at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church and had politely sat with him for nearly an hour before he started shooting makes their killings all the more heart-wrenching.

Given America’s history of racial terror, including attacks on black churches, it is appropriate to ask humbly, with trepidation, whether the shooting reflects currents of hate that are still active in American culture. It is not, however, appropriate to answer that question with boilerplate rhetoric that bears little resemblance to reality. An honest appraisal of race relations today would conclude that the Charleston massacre belongs to the outermost, lunatic fringe of American society.

The country’s revulsion at the carnage was immediate and universal, resulting in a justified movement to banish the Confederate flag, embraced by Roof as a white-supremacist symbol, from official sites. Roof was not expressing the will of anyone beyond his own narcissistic, twisted self. White-supremacist killings are not a common aspect of black life today; their very rarity is what made this atrocity so newsworthy. And yet the Democratic elites, from President Obama on down, opportunistically turned Roof into a stand-in for white America, linking his rampage to the Left’s standard grab bag of institutional racism that allegedly poisons black life. Eulogizing Emanuel A.M.E.’s pastor, the Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney, on June 26, Obama fingered virtually every white as a potential co-conspirator in the killings. “Maybe we now realize the way racial bias can infect us even when we don’t realize it,” Obama said. In other words, it took this violence for white America to wake up to its enduring racism, racism that is continuous with Roof’s homicidal mania. Obama cautioned “us” (read: whites) about other manifestations of “our” potentially lethal racism. Once we “realize” how we are “infected” with bias, he said, we will be “guarding against not just racial slurs, but . . . also . . . against the subtle impulse to call Johnny back for an interview but not Jamal. So that we search our hearts when we consider laws to make it harder for some of our fellow citizens to vote.”

Obama’s admonition ignores the fact that in every elite workplace today, whether a university, corporation, law firm, bank, foundation, newsroom, or research lab, being black is an enormous advantage for a job applicant, desperate as employers are to parade their “diversity” to a bean-counting world. But even if that weren’t the case, job hiring has nothing to do with the Roof massacre. And while one can debate the extent of voter fraud and the need for additional measures to prevent it, it is preposterous to suggest that someone seeking to strengthen vote-integrity rules needs to “search his heart” for complicity in the Roof massacre…

The formula for escaping poverty as an adult also has nothing to do with race: Graduate from high school, wait until you are married to have children, and work full-time. Whites who eschew those bourgeois behaviors are as likely to be poor as blacks who eschew them. Only 2 percent of individuals who follow those rules are in poverty, according to Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution; 72 percent of those who follow them earn at least $55,000 a year. The American poverty rate would be cut by 70 percent if the same percentage of Americans engaged in those responsible behaviors as did in 1970, regardless of race. America spends over $1 trillion a year on programs for disadvantaged families, estimates Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution. In the liberal worldview, where compassion is measured by government spending, that vast sum should buy the American “we” some dispensation from race-mongering. Compassionate or not, however, that spending is unable to counteract the effects of nonmarital childbearing, a social catastrophe about which Obama, Kristof, and other scourges of alleged racism are silent. Family breakdown explains the other racial inequalities that Obama seized on. He criticized “us” for “permitting” so many children to grow up “without prospects for a job or a career.” This lachrymose accusation again overlooks the reality that a black boy who graduates from high school today with a modestly respectable GPA will have scores of selective colleges beating down his door; should he finish college in decent standing he will be able to write his ticket to the graduate school of his choice. If few black students are able to take advantage of those racial preferences, it is because children from single-mother homes enter school far behind their peers in reading, math, and social-emotional skills, a gap which schools struggle to close. Fatherless children, especially boys, are less likely to graduate from high school or college and are more prone to crime and gang involvement…

(The Bureau of Justice Statistics stopped publishing its table on interracial crime after 2008, perhaps not coincidentally, the first year of the Obama presidency. The agency explains its decision on the ground that some of the estimates in particular crime categories, such as sexual assault, are based on sample sizes that are too small to be statistically reliable. But that is no reason not to tabulate data on the crimes for which reliable estimates are available.)

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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