Dylann Roof, pictured here with patches from racist South African apartheid regimes
What is terrorism if it is not peaceful people worshipping their God who are shot and killed by a gunman they openly allowed into their church?
Dylann Roof, who is now the primary suspect in the Charleston, South Carolina, massacre of nine women and men in the historic Emmanuel AME Church is a terrorist. Call it domestic terrorism if you must, but this man is a terrorist and what he did, pure and simple, was terrorism.
He knowingly and willfully targeted a church full of African American men and women not because he knew them—all indications are that he didn't, but because he wanted to send a message and strike terror into people. This is not a guess. Read this description from someone who was there. He left a witness living so she could tell everyone what happened.
Church members at Emanuel AME were gathered for a prayer meeting when gunfire erupted in the 19th century building. A female survivor told family members that the gunman initially sat down in the church for a while before standing up and opening fire, according to Dot Scott, president of the Charleston NAACP.
The gunman reportedly told the woman that he was letting her live so she could tell everyone else what happened, Scott said.
Mullen confirmed that the shooter was in the church for almost an hour attending the prayer meeting with the group before shooting.
African American churches across the United States will be on high alert not only this weekend, but for the foreseeable future. The actions of this man caused this terror to have ripple effects far beyond Charleston.
Don't call this a tragedy. A mudslide or an earthquake is tragic. An accidental house fire is tragic. Those things don't cause people 11 states over to have genuine fear. If a house burns down in Iowa, homeowners in Florida aren't scared shitless the next day. If a mudslide happens in Santa Barbara, homeowners in Montana aren't worried to death it will happen to them next.
This is terrorism.
Don't call this the act of a madman. It is an insult to those battling mental illness and it is also a degree of deference you never saw given to men like Osama Bin Laden. This was a well-planned, well-conceived attack. The murderer didn't stumble upon this church in some type of manic accident. It was strategic.
Dylann Roof is a racist and his actions were driven by his racism. On his jacket, in the picture above, are patches from the racist regimes of apartheid South Africa and colonial Rhodesia. This means he had a philosophy, a worldview, which celebrated the brute force and violence used against Africans on the continent.
Could it be that America, with its deeply troubling racist past, is refusing to call Dylann Roof a terrorist because it would then mean that so many other people in our history who inflicted such pain would also have to fit the bill?
Are we saying that terrorists can't be white? Are we saying that terrorists can't be American?
Must they be brown? Must be Muslims?
Of course not. This is terrorism. Calling it anything less is an insult to the victims of this massacre.