Roof 1-10-17 Closing Statement

Roof 1-10-17 Closing Statement

“Anyone . . . who thinks I am filled with hatred has no idea what real hatred is” Dylann Roof

In a mild, matter of fact voice and demeanor, Dylann Roof talked about hate in his final remarks at his sentencing. Of course, he demonstrated what hatred is in his actions on June 17, 2015. But in his mind, he was not the one filled with hate. OTHERS were.

Webster describes hatred as “a feeling of intense dislike; enmity.” But it is much deeper. The word “hate” has been bandied about by both sides of the political spectrum. Trump supporter are now referring to those protesting his Presidency as “haters.”

In the current context, hatred has come to be something other people feel, echoing Roof’s sentiments.  What I learned about hatred from Dylann Roof is that it is the desire for the complete and utter annihilation of a person(s) or an idea. There was no anger in his voice. He didn’t seem the least bit angry. Hatred can take many forms, from a simple “shut up!” to mass genocide. Hatred should not be confused with anger. Love often takes the form of anger. Jesus turning the tables at the Temple comes to mind. The difference between righteous indignation and hatred may seem minuscule but they are worlds apart.

Recent political events have created huge rifts between family and friends; many have chosen to put politics over friendship. I’ve had political differences with friends before, but this is different. Now more than ever, it is important to distinguish the differences between arguing about political ideas and values versus obliterating the people with whom you don’t agree. We do this with insults and demanding that others shut up. Trump refers to his opponents as his enemies. This is not just a question of semantics. This is a re-framing of the entire conversation. Today, people are putting fear and denial over truth and common sense. True discourse has become nearly impossible.

To be honest, my relationships with my family and certain old friends, was never based on shared values or political agreement. My familial ties are much deeper, as are many of my friendships. Rightly or wrongly, they are based on shared experiences and a mutual need for continuity and connection.

Like hatred, love can be expressed in a variety of ways. The anger I’m feeling over the recent election has less to do with political or ideological differences and more to do with my belief, based on thoughtful evidential research and heartfelt convictions, that the safety and welfare of people I love most, both democrats and republicans, has been put in serious jeopardy. I don’t believe the people who voted for Trump realize this yet. I believe they sincerely hoped he was the answer to the problems we are facing.

The anger I’m expressing should not be confused with hate but rather seen as the highest form of tough love I can muster under what I consider the most dire of circumstances. I don’t want to obliterate Trump or his supporters; I want to call them into the light of day.

In response, I’ve been told repeatedly to shut up. I am told I must support the new President. This is not possible, not only in light of the “support” that was given to Obama, who was blocked at every turn, but because he is morally reprehensible. I have asked my Trump-supporting friends to accept my anger, even if they don’t agree with my reasons for feeling it. I’ve been accused of being fomenting hate speech. I am told I am arrogant and that my righteous indignation and resistance to Trump is unpatriotic and un-Christian. “How dare you assume you know what is best for everyone.”

So, how can I be so sure I am in the right? If Trump’s past and present actions tell us anything about what kind of a President he will be, certainly history will prove my predictions correct, even as I pray they are wrong. If it walks like a fascist and it talks like a fascists, then it is a fascist.

If people want to tell me specifically why this man is not a disaster about to happen, I’m all ears. But I won’t be insulted or told to shut up for being a resister. I simply cannot sit back and watch silently while my country, the people that I love, are destroyed by someone who has proven himself to be a clear and present danger. That’s not loving.

Craigslist white supremacist ad, inspired by Roof and the Alt Right

White supremacist ad on Craigslist, inspired by Roof and the Alt Right

I had a front row seat in court and listened to Dylann Roof talk about hate. Hate is insidious. It’s quiet. It is dismissive. It’s irrational. It’s closed-minded. But it is cunning and it is cold. Some call this evil. Some call it the devil. Hatred comes with its own veil, to keep those in its grip from seeing the truth. Hatred flows out of fear and is the result of a isolation. Whatever you may call it, Roof’s hope that the white race would one day wake up and take back this nation has come to fruition.

But a free society must not tolerate hate, even as people have a right to speak it. Deceit, bullying, deflection, projection, belittling, insults, winning at all costs, survival of the fittest, dismissiveness, aggression, obliteration must not become normal, not even for political expediency. These are the values of our new leader; they cannot be ignored. We must resist. I will not tolerate being accused of perpetuating hate because I’m speaking out against hate itself. My peaceful resistance to tyranny is what being a good citizen looks like. 

 “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?” Thomas Jefferson

 

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