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Giorgio: Guns, Hatred & Forgiveness

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

 

Paul Giorgio

No words can be written to describe my feelings about the massacre last week in Charleston, South Carolina. The final frontier has been crossed in America’s murderous rampage of hate.

We had students killed at Virginia Tech, theater goers gunned down in Colorado, elementary school students slaughtered in Connecticut and now we have church goers at a bible study class killed because they were black.

Yet what do we do? The answer is nothing. Everyone says the National Rifle Association is too powerful to take on.

The NRA always blames the victims.

We have created a culture of blaming the victims, and no one is better at this than the NRA.  A board member of the National Rifle Association, Charles Cotton went so far as to blame the murdered pastor because he did not allow guns in his church. The NRA has apparently forgotten that churches, mosques, and temples are all houses of God. They used the same argument at Sandy Hook Elementary School, when they called for arming teachers and having gun toting guards in our schools.

The problem with all these incidents is that obviously mentally ill people are getting their hands on guns legally. The NRA opposes background checks and the prohibition that mentally ill people be banned from owning a firearm. They must believe in the domino effect, where if we block crazy people from getting guns, who will be next.

Maybe It is time we brand the NRA a terrorist organization.
More people have been killed because of their positions and policies than any other group in our country. According to a report on Meet the Press this past Sunday, since 9/11, 50 people have been killed in our country in terrorist attacks, but 400,000 have been killed by gun violence.  That is a frightening number.

But there is another story in the Charleston shooting and that is its racist overtones. We acknowledge that we have a gun problem; we also need to confront the problems with race.

Dylan Root is probably not only mentally ill but he is a racist to boot. One only needs to read his self published manifesto, to figure that out.   He is a racist in a state that still flies the Confederate flag over its capital.

Bar the Stars & Bars.

South Carolinians claim that the Stars and Bar which fly above its State Capital is about heritage.  What heritage are we talking about-the heritage of racism?

For the record the so called Stars & Bars is not the flag of the Confederate States of America.  It is the flag carried by the Army of Northern Virginia-Robert E. Lee’s Army.

These flags only began flying over state capitals in the South during an era of blatant racism in our country when the Klu Klux Klan was on the rise and Black lynchings were common. In South Carolina’s case the flag has been flying since 1961. Is this the heritage Southern whites are so proud of and want to celebrate and perpetuate?   I hope not.

This year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.  What could be a more appropriate way of marking this milestone than by removing the Confederate Flag from State capitals.

To her credit, The Governor Niki Haley has asked that the flag be removed, which caused a torent of support.  It is up to the Legislature now to act.  Her call to action has also reignited the call for other Southern states to remove vestiges of the Confederate flag from their state flags.

Forgives.

But no article can be written about the shooting at the AME Zion Church without talking about the families of the victims and the members of the church who instead of reacting with hatred forgave the alleged killer. The compassion that the churchgoers and the families exhibited should be a lesson to us all.

We need to remove the Confederate Stars & Bars from southern culture, confront racism and end the gun violence that has plagued America for so long. They are all intertwined in our American psyche.

 

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