1 July 2015: Time to expose hate and deal with it

Time to expose hate and deal with it

There’s something particularly heinous about violating places of sanctity that ought to be sanctuaries from violence: e.g., churches, schools, shelters.

Over the years I’ve written about and decried gunmen who choose to carry out their murderous assaults in public schools, one of society’s most secular sacred places.  This time it happened in a Charleston, SC church during a Bible study to which the gunman was lovingly welcomed.

Since the shooting, some, once again, are trotting out the plaint about keeping guns away from the mentally disturbed/disabled.  Nice, but as I keep asking, how about preventing weapons capable of inflicting mass destruction from getting into the hands of the “simply angry”?

I’m thinking of the Denver Post letter writer who submits “that this is a very wrong and totally unfair conclusion—the Emmanuel Church murders reflecting the nationwide prejudice and violence against African Americans—to draw from a very few relatively isolated terror events performed by mentally incompetent loners.”

Terror event: that’s a new one.  An event to me is a concert in the park or a retailer’s Black Friday sale.  Throw in a few killings, and I suppose it adds the terror element, like going to a theater to watch a frightening story only to find yourself part of the action.

Focus, though, on his last three words: mentally incompetent loners.  Dylann Roof, the alleged shooter, might have been a loner but so are millions of Americans.  It’s no crime being one.  Some lack social skills and others are simply misanthropes.  However, those millions don’t commit mass murder to satiate their intense hostility—hatred—for a group of people.

Mentally incompetent?  That expression implies mental disability.  Roof was neither mentally incompetent nor disabled: He knew exactly what he was doing and did it intentionally.

The Mayo Clinic states mental illness “refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.

“Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.”

Some reading this might be dealing with such illness and others know people who have been diagnosed as manic-depressive or with some other disability.  A tragedy of our society is that those dealing with mental illness are already often labeled, stigmatized and marginalized.

Let’s get one thing straight: Hate is not a mental illness.  Hate is a spiritual illness, a disease of the soul that can consume the entire person.

Further, mental illness is not a choice.  Hate, on the other hand, is a choice.  People are not born hateful; they learn to hate.

Roof was driven by passion that went over the line from anger to deep-seated hatred.  That happens when one’s mind is filled with so much poison it affects the soul.

Every learner learns from a teacher, whether an individual or a group.  Thus, our task is to scrutinize sources of such poisoning one of which was the Council of Conservative Citizens, a “modern-day reincarnation of the old White Citizens Councils that sprang up in Southern states to fight school desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s,” according the Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Cohen calls the CCC Roof’s “entry point into the world of hard-core racism” as evidenced by information from Roof’s personal website.

Roof is not a lone wolf.  Thousands like him belong to hate groups across the nation.  In Colorado alone, the SPLC has identified 15 hate groups.

The SPLC reports Bryan Jamsheed Tayefeh, 29, and Yotam Monjack, 27, allegedly attacked a Jewish man in December 2014 because he refused to remove his yarmulke; and in Colorado Springs, an explosive device was detonated against the exterior wall of a building occupied by the NAACP in January 2015.

Hate thrives when it’s not addressed and exposed.

Let’s honor the victims and the Charleston community for the noble way they’ve responded to the murders, but let’s also learn more about what precipitates such horrors.

Start by going to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s site: www.splcenter.org.

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