Dylann Storm Roof will get the death penalty.
Some aren’t so sure about that, now that the police killing of Walter Scott has ended in a mistrial in Charleston, right across the street from Roof’s trial.
But Michael Slager was a white police officer who killed a black motorist. Roof is a white supremacist who killed nine black people inside historic Emanuel AME Church.
The first guy gets the benefit of the doubt, even when video evidence cries out that he should not. I predict the second will get no such benefit.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
Roof, as shooting survivor Felicia Sanders told him from the witness stand, embodies evil. If the many tweets advising him to kill himself are any indication, America can’t wait to see this guy dead.
I mean, for God’s sake, the man saved his worst attack of the church massacre – 11 rounds – for an 87-year-old woman.
Unlike Slager, he will not find that one white holdout juror who will insist on saving him, evidence be damned.
His rampage at Emanuel marks a modern-day low for racist evil-doing. Good people singled out and gunned down, simply because of their skin color. During a church Bible study, of all unthinkable notions. Black or white, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat, everybody wants him tossed out like human garbage.
People can’t wait to declare that we are not him, and he is not us.
And yet, when Roof is led away to Death Row, our deep racial and ethnic divides will remain. Far from a grotesque aberration, he’s our coal-mine canary, a warning of where the darkest impulses can lead us in a year when demonizing Mexicans and Muslims turns out to be smart politics.
To hear Roof tell it, his path to Emanuel started with him Googling the Trayvon Martin shooting case out of curiosity, then growing outraged by (fake) statistics on black-on-white crime.
So, race-hatred destroyed him, yes. But also, plain old lazy thinking.
Why is that dangerous? Well, one minute you’re thinking there are too many black people on welfare or committing crimes. The next, you’re wondering if black people are inherently defective.
The former is public policy. The latter is white supremacy.
See how slippery – and important – that line of demarcation is? Donald Trump’s “deplorables” need to think about that. The few black activists who cheered cop killers in Dallas and Baton Rouge this year have their own demarcation issue to ponder.
Stereotyping is intellectually lazy, violence is counter-productive, and racial nationalism is a dead end.
We must teach our young these truths. Roof? He will learn them the hardest way of all.
Eric: (704) 358-5145; email@example.com