The guilt phase of the Dylann Roof trial concluded as well as one might hope to expect: guilty on all 33 counts. As I listened to and drew his video confession and then heard his journal read from beginning to end, I began to understood a few things more clearly. Roof was heavily influenced by what we now call “fake news, ” which confirmed for him that blacks were raping white women and have taken over the world, along with the Jews.
I started thinking about the recent election and I couldn’t help realizing that in some very important ways, people like Dylann Roof had won. Roof called it “racial awareness.” I think my friends who keep asserting that Donald Trump, who appointed an alt right fake-news guru as his chief of staff, is not really a racist. Perhaps “racially aware,” is a more accurate description. Today I really got a clear sense of the desperation white supremacists feel. They need something to blame, to explain their own misery. Roof perfectly expressed how disenfranchised whites think. Before this election I would have heard his hate as an isolated fluke, the ravings of a lunatic. Now I realize he and his ilk have won. Hatred appears to be the answer. It’s not. But Roof got exactly what he was seeking. We can kill him but his ideas are now mainstream; in fact they are in charge. If it weren’t so surreal I swear I’d just take my chips and leave. BUT WE MUST RESIST.
He was tried as mentally competent for a number of reasons. He was in full cognition of what he was doing. He was responsible for his actions. Sitting there throughout the entire trial I thought the same thing: he’s a nut job. He’d have to be, right? Of course, clumping those struggling with mental illness or learning disabilities in with violent psychopaths is not fair to anyone. We need to stop stereotyping and marginalizing people who truly need our help and support.
The prosecution made the excellent point that he chose his course based on his carefully researched politics, namely the alt right fake news he stumbled on that made perfect sense to him. Just as deporting Mexicans and Muslims makes sense to Trump, or rather to his followers. Just like grabbing pussy and making fun of disabled people makes sense to him. It’s not insanity, it’s a willful desire to control others, to instill fear and generate hatred with the sole purpose of getting people to support him. He wants to be in control because “he alone” can fix what’s wrong. Hatred makes people very malleable. These people want to feel in control and they know how to get others to desire control. That is why they don’t check facts, because they feel the pain of being out of control. They don’t need facts; they simply want control again (“make America great again”). “I’m sick and tired and I’m not gonna take it anymore.” That is what followers of the alt right know in their core, based on their politics. Hatred, fear and the desperate need to feel in control are the only things that make sense to them. Roof did it with a gun. Trump has a whole military arsenal at his disposal. We’ll soon see how that’s going to work out. My best hope for peace rests in my faith in God and my loving family and friends.