Racism versus Nihilism

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racism versus nihilimsmWith reference to my previous post (Manifestly Wrong: Charleston, the Media, and Nihilism), Martin R. emails and says:

Since when is racism the same as nihilism? He shot those people because they were black, it’s as simple as that. It has nothing to do with atheism or anything else you used to distract from that.

Well, I differ. Accounts indicate that Dylann Storm Roof was a depressed, messed up 21 year-old who previously had black friends, who had drifted into isolation, and had contemplated out loud the idea of attacking a college. I don’t find him to be a credible harbinger of a resurgence of old fashioned white supremacism. The white supremacist narrative was the channel his sickness took, but as evil as that is, it was not the root of the sickness.

This matters little, perhaps, to the victims and those who loved them, but understanding the truth about an event like this nevertheless should matter on a societal level. The whole story in the media has now become one of the Confederate flag flying at the South Carolina state Capitol, as if without that flag flying there, Mr. Roof (as the NY Times would call him) would have been a good neighbor and a productive member of our diverse society. I have no investment in the Confederate flag: it’s not a part of any of my diverse heritages, and it matters not a damn to me whether it flies in any state Capitol or is on any license plate. I can appreciate as a third party to the issue both why some would be bothered by it and why some others would find some pride in it. Well over half a million people died during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s (and this was when half a million people actually counted for something). What happened then resonates to this day.

It is to evade the issue if anyone chooses to believe that with a few fewer Confederate flags or an extra class on race relations that no massacre would have taken place. Lacking any positive sense of meaning and value in life, the perpetrator in this case latched onto a convenient philosophy of hatred that matched his by then nihilistic soul. I reiterate the most important point previously made: Elevating the sick demented ramblings of his “manifesto” to the level of national and international news only encourages similarly sick and nihilistic souls to take a similar path to his, so that they too can become famous and make everyone feel their pain.

It’s a deep shame that this individual was not deflected from his path at some point by people of good will and good sense who perceived how sick his soul had become. Yet his demented “rationale” for the massacre deserves not to be highlighted and pored over, but rather to be flushed down the toilet where it belongs.

Unfortunately, we live in a society and a time where those things which ought to get flushed tend instead to be highlighted, and those things which ought to be reflected upon instead get trashed.

The people that were killed in Charleston last week had gathered to reflect upon things that were important. Specifically, from the Gospel of Mark, they were considering Jesus’ exposition of his own parable of the sower.

Never did the word fall upon rockier ground. Nevertheless, they were engaged in something that had meaning and worth and will not die. The shooter’s manifesto was dead before he wrote it, and does not deserve the false life given it by the media’s glare.