In the philosophical tug-of-war between nature and nurture, there is a young white man behind bars in South Carolina who seems to be living, breathing proof that nurture has a hell of a lot to do with how we turn out in life. On the one hand, Dylann Roof presents as a thoughtful young man of above average intellect who has spent a lot of time pondering race in America. But on the other hand, he matured in a simplistic and very racist milieu that left his humanity deeply stained and twisted. Somehow, in just twenty-one short years, a normal baby boy matured into a monster.
Today Dylann Roof, now twenty-two, was found guilty of the murders of nine black individuals as they were participating in Bible study in the sanctity of their house of worship, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Roof fired seventy-seven rounds into the unsuspecting Christians and intentionally left one alive to tell the tale of his assault. He admitted that the cold-blooded murders were racially motivated.
Dylann Roof, by his own admission, hoped to either instigate a race war through his horrendous act, or bring about a reinstatement of segregation in America. Instead, the results that his act reaped were the removal of the Confederate flag from South Carolina's capitol as well as that same symbol and other Confederate monuments being taken down in dozens of other locations across the Old South.
Roof''s views on race are spelled out in an unsigned 2,800 word "manifesto" that is available numerous places on the internet. That sad diatribe reads, in part:
"I have no choice. I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me."
(Note how he capitalizes "Whites" and does not do so with "blacks.")
Bravery, Dylann, or a big dose of stupidity served up on a slab of moral degeneracy? How sad for you - and for us - that you grew up in a cesspool of ignorance and hate and in the shadow of the Stars and Bars. I suspect that some of those humble souls in Charleston were praying for you even as your bullets were ripping through their bodies. There was bravery in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church that night, Dylann, but it was the blood-soaked nine who were brave - not you.
Dylann Roof ended the lives of nine good people, and his terrible act also effectively ended his own life as well. They were all, Roof included, victims of an evil that seemingly can't be quelled - racism in America.
We should be so much better than this.