A website with a white supremacist manifesto features dozens of photos of Dylann Storm Roof, the man accused of killing nine people at a church in Charleston, S.C., posing with weapons, burning an American flag and visiting Southern historic sites and Confederate soldiers’ graves....That's from The New York Times; go to the link for evidence that this is real.
The site, the lastrhodesian.com, features an opening photo of a bloodied dead white man on the floor. The picture appears to be a shot from “Romper Stomper,” an Australian movie about neo-Nazis....
Gawker and Talking Points Memo have posted the full text of the manifesto. The document is going to lead to a lot of smug triumphalism on the part of right-wingers who seek respectability, they're going to say, See? He got his ideology from fringe-dwellers, not from Fox News or Breitbart!
There's some truth in that. Roof clearly picked up ideas and symbols from far outside the conservative mainstream. As the Times reports:
Several photos show him with the number 88 or 1488 written in sand. The numbers are well-known white supremacy codes.But there simply isn't a big, solid border fence with "respectable" conservatism on one side and Roof's inspirations on the other. This is from Roof's manifesto:
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s glossary of skinhead terms, “Fourteen stands for the ‘14 words’ slogan coined by David Lane, who is serving a 190-year sentence for his part in the assassination of a Jewish talk show host: ‘We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.’” The letter H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so 88 is a known code for “Heil, Hitler.”
The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right. But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words “black on White crime” into Google, and I have never been the same since that day. The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders. I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?Mainstream conservatism was obsessed with the Trayvon Martin case, and specifically with defending George Zimmerman's actions, in the aftermath of Martin's death. And "black-on-white crime"? It's also been an obsession of the mainstream right:
Since Obama actually took office, ... [Matt] Drudge has seriously stepped up his “scary black people” coverage. There was, in September of 2009, the story he heavily publicized of a kid on a bus in Illinois getting beaten up. A kid on a bus in Illinois getting beaten up is not really national news -- until Drudge makes it so. The fact that the beater was black and the victim white is why Drudge made it national news. Rush Limbaugh made the subtext explicit: “In Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering.”Here was a Fox headline from last year: "SHARPTON CONDEMNS BLACK ON BLACK CRIME, NOW SHOULD SPEAK OUT ON BLACK ON WHITE RACIST ATTACKS." Here was one from earlier this month: "Todd Starnes: Do Democrats Care About Black-on-White Crime?" Here's a typical Fox News segment:
This is the narrative that Drudge is trying to create, especially on slow news weekends when there’s nothing real to aggregate and post: The blacks are rising up and attacking the whites. If that sounds a bit crazy, in a Charles Manson way, then you’re obviously not paying attention. Black people are angry and they’re taking over! When Barack Obama was campaigning to win Chicago the Olympic games, Matt Drudge led with a terrifying photo of (black) gang violence and the breathless, all-caps headline, “OLYMPIC SPIRIT.”
Did Roof watch Fox? I'm not sure how much it matters. These are fixations shared by the extreme right and the "respectable" right. It's impossible to believe that "respectable" conservative media coverage has no influence on the extreme right's coverage of the same subjects, when the language is so similar.
Roof also invokes the Council of Conservative Citizens. This is a group that's now marginalized -- but we know that former Senate majority leader Trent Lott once addressed its national board and posed for photos with its leaders in his D.C. office. We know that, prior to becoming attorney general, John Ashcroft met with a prominent member of the group to find out how he could help Dr. Charles T. Sell, a member of the group accused of trying to murder an FBI agent. We know that former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour and current Mississippi senator Roger Wicker have appeared at the group's events since 2000.
The Council of Conservative Citizens currently hides its Web content behind the anodyne URL conservative-headlines.com. The site is down right now, though I was able to look at a cached version here. (That now seems to be down as well.) The site's Twitter feed is still up, however. Go there and you'll see just the sorts of headlines you see at Fox, Drudge, or Breitbart:
This is in addition to the crime scare stories: "Ontario man shot and killed in racial hate crime"; "White females attacked with concrete block in racial hate crime"; "67 year old nearly dies in unprovoked racial hate"; "Entire family attacked in racially motivated lynching in Alabama."
I wasn't able to read much of the site, but I read a cached version of that last story. There are no racial epithets. The page isn't covered in swastikas. It could be a Breitbart or Gateway Pundit story:
A Florence, Alabama event known as “First Fridays” turned into a horrific racially motivated rampage. A father and his fourteen year old son were attacked and lynched by a large group of young blacks. The perps beat them and zapped the adult victim with a taser. He was hospitalized because of his injuries. Then they turned on the mother and a four year old. Smashing the windows of the family van where they had taken refuge. The perpetrators were yelling racial slurs the entire time.In fact, here's a current Charleston-themed story at the Council's site:
Local media is CENSORING the race of the attackers. Even WHNT Channel 19, which admitted the attackers were using racial slurs, refused to state the race of the attackers. The Times Daily reported a mob attack, but completely censored all mention of race and the racial slurs. WAAY, the local ABC affiliate, did not report the attack at all.
And at Gateway Pundit:
Woman Calls for Race War at Scene of Church Shooting http://t.co/rKXP3V8eLn— DJM (@ott_deb) June 19, 2015
Root was radicalized by extremists who were a few inches to the right of the right-wing mainstream. There might be a dime's worth of difference between Council of Conservative Citizens content and Fox or Breitbart or Gateway Pundit content, but there's no more than that. They share a language.