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Shooters of color are called 'terrorists' and 'thugs.' Why are white shooters called 'mentally ill'?

By       Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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The massacre of nine African Americans in Charleston has been classified as a possible hate crime, apparently carried out by a 21 year old white man who once wore an apartheid badge and other symbols of white supremacy, Rick Gladstone of New York Times reported on June 18, 2015.

But many civil rights advocates are asking why the attack has not officially been called terrorism, he said adding: Against the backdrop of rising worries about violent Muslim extremism in the United States, advocates see hypocrisy in the way the attack and the man under arrest in the shooting have been described by law enforcement officials and the news media.

On June 17 night, Dylann Roof walked into a Bible study in the oldest historically black church in the American South. For an hour, he sat with the assembled church-goers. Roof read with them. He prayed with them. And then he unloaded his gun on them, reloading it not just once, but five times. Roof killed nine black people, including the church's pastor -- State Senator Clementa Pinckney.

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Police captured Roof in Shelby, North Carolina, the next day. According to police sources he is charged with nine counts of murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. He was not charged with terrorism like Robert R. Doggart who was arrested on April 10, 2015 for plotting to kill Muslims and destroy a mosque in Islamberg, a Muslim area in the state of New York. And despite his murderous threats and the fact the he was armed, he is currently out on bail, awaiting sentencing.

Why are white shooters called 'mentally ill'?

Anthea Butler, an associate professor of religion and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania, commenting on the massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, asks why white shooters called 'mentally ill' while African American or Muslim shooters are called terrorists. He says that this racist media narrative around mass violence falls apart with the Charleston church shooting.

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The Charleston shooting is a result of an ingrained culture of racism and a history of terrorism in America, Butler said adding: It should be covered as such. On Friday, Department of Justice spokeswoman Emily Pierce acknowledged that the Charleston shooting "was undoubtedly designed to strike fear and terror into this community" (though terrorism is not among the nine murder charges brought against Roof, so far).

Writing in Washington Post, Anthea Butler argued:

"U.S. media outlets practice a different policy when covering crimes involving African Americans or Muslims. As suspects, they are quickly characterized as terrorists and thugs (if not always explicitly using the terms), motivated purely by evil intent instead of external injustices. While white suspects are lone wolves -- Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley has emphasized that this shooting was an act of just "one hateful person" -- violence by black and Muslim people is systemic, demanding response and action from all who share their race or religion. Even black victims are vilified. Their lives are combed for any infraction or hint of justification for the murders or attacks that befall them: Trayvon Martin was wearing a hoodie, which was "as much responsible for [his] death as George Zimmerman," Fox News's Geraldo Rivera concluded.....

"In public discussions, black children often morph into potentially menacing adults after they've been victimized, while white mass shooters are portrayed as children, even if they're well into their 20s. Media reports and police statements repeatedly referred to Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy shot by police in Cleveland while playing with a toy gun last year, as a "young man." But James Holmes, who was 25 when he shot dozens at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, was frequently defined by his youth in media profiles, which described him as "a normal kid," a "typical American kid" and "a smart kid."

" Roof is getting the same treatment. In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) insisted that the 21-year-old is just "one of these whacked-out kids." Since Roof's arrest on nine counts of murder, the Wall Street Journal and other major news outlets have called him "a loner" in headlines."

And now that Roof has admitted to killing those people to start a "race war," we should be calling him what he is: a terrorist, Butler concludes. CNN Friday quoted two law enforcement officials as saying that Roof has confessed he shot and killed the people at the black church to start a race war.

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NY Times: Many ask, why not call church shooting terrorism?

The massacre of nine African Americans in Charleston has been classified as a possible hate crime, apparently carried out by a 21 year old white man who once wore an apartheid badge and other symbols of white supremacy, Rick Gladstone of New York Times reported on June 18, 2015.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 

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