Tag Archives: Charleston shooting

Mounting a small form of protest over shooting violence

My head continues to spin. My gut continues to roil in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre.

I have no answers. I have no solutions. Plenty of questions abound. They are overwhelming. The nation faces yet another daunting task in debating and discussing how to end this spasm of gun violence.

My own recourse is limited. I run this blog. I use it to comment on issues of the day. I also am able to use it to mount a form of protest.

I continue using High Plains Blogger to offer a voice against gun violence.

Some time ago, probably two or three gun massacres ago, I decided to quit referencing shooters by name. I’m doing so with the Las Vegas madman. Yes, the shooter is dead; he killed himself as police were closing in on his Mandalay Bay hotel room.

My protest of omission won’t affect this monster. He is burning in hell somewhere, along with the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter, the Columbine High School shooters, the University of Texas Tower gunman, and any of the other seemingly countless list of mass murderers. When the Army major who killed all those folks in Killeen, Texas, or when the Charleston, S.C., church murderer get put down, they’ll join them all in hell.

My type of protest won’t solve any problems. It won’t bring any solutions. It only gives me a tiny scintilla of satisfaction that I won’t publish their names here, committing them to some form of blogosphere immortality.

Killer tests anti-death penalty principle

I just can’t stand it when one of my long-standing principles gets tested by sociopathic monsters.

It is happening now as I listen to the rantings of the young man who opened fire in that Charleston, S.C., church, killing nine people with whom he had been praying just moments earlier.

A trial jury has convicted the killer — who I will continue to refuse to identify by name — of multiple murder. The moron then fired his defense counsel and is representing himself in the sentencing phase of the trial.

The judge questioned the killer’s ability to provide himself with an adequate defense. The killer said there is “nothing wrong” with his mind. I guess the judge believes him. Fine.

This individual is going to get the death penalty.

My own view against capital punishment is steeped in my belief that it does nothing to deter people from committing the kinds of acts that occurred in Charleston. The shooter surely knew what awaited him when he opened fire on the people inside the church.

The killer, a racist who admits to wanting to start a race war by killing the nine African-Americans in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, is beyond redemption. He says now he has no regrets over what he did; he will not apologize for it.

Although I still believe that capital punishment is the wrong way to punish this monster, I won’t grieve for one moment when the state finally puts him down.

This conviction tests anti-death penalty resolve


We can stop calling the shooter in that horrific massacre at a Charleston, S.C., church an “alleged” perpetrator.

A jury today convicted the young man accused of killing nine parishioners on June 17, 2015.

Jurors heard the killer confess to the massacre. They heard testimony from others about how the young man prayed with the parishioners, read from Scripture with them … and then shot them to death in cold blood.

The killer, who is white, is a known racist. He’s a hater. The victims were black. He wrote in his diary that he had intended to provoke a race war.

What now?

The killer’s lawyer is known to be good at avoiding death sentences for his clients. That will be the lawyer’s task now that the killer has been convicted of this hideous hate crime.


Some of us out here oppose the death penalty. I’m one of them. This case will test my resolve, much like the Timothy McVeigh execution over his bombing of the Oklahoma City federal courthouse did.

I will remain opposed to killing someone as punishment. But I recognize it’s hard, given what this hate-filled young man has done.


Just so you know, I am refusing to mention the shooter’s name. I did so early on when the case broke, but then decided “nope, I won’t give him any publicity.”

You know to whom I will refer.

May he rot in hell.

Shooter committed a ‘hate crime’


The lunatic who opened fire on Dallas police officers this past week committed a “hate crime.”

So said President Barack Obama in a meeting today with police officials. He added that if the shooter had survived the rampage — in which he killed five policemen — he would have been prosecuted for committing a crime on the basis of his hatred for white police officers.

The thought occurs to me: Why do Obama critics keep insisting in light of this tragic event that he’s somehow “anti-police”?

I am having trouble processing this particular criticism. The president has spoken about the “vicious, despicable and calculated” act of violence against the officers. He has said such attacks on law enforcement is never justified. He has offered words of condolence to family members of the fallen officers and to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

But the criticism persists.


Now he has referred to the shooter’s crime as of being of the “hate” variety. He compared the Dallas gunman’s act to the dastardly deed committed by the individual who killed those nine Charleston church members; those victims were black, the young man accused of that crime is white.

Sure, the president had his well-publicized “beer summit” after police wrongly accused an African-American academic of trying to burglarize his own home. Obama did accuse the police of acting “stupidly.” Those remarks seem to have stuck far more than the repeated statements in support of law enforcement that the president has made.

Well, the president will get another chance Tuesday to restate his support of the many thousands of police officers who perform their sworn duties with honor and distinction. He’ll speak in Dallas at an interfaith memorial service to honor the slain police officers.

Will those remarks quell the unfounded criticism? Hardly. He still needs to make them.

No need to say killers’ names out loud


President Obama has been taking flak for declining to refer to radical Islamic terrorists by that name.

He’s playing a curious game of omission that puzzles some of us.

Accordingly, I’ve decided to play my own similar game. I’m no longer going to refer to mass murderers by their names.

I’m not alone in this symbolic decision. Some media outlets have done so already. I’m all for that decision.

There’ve been so many of them now, going back, I suppose, to the 1966 murder from the top of the Texas Tower at the University of Texas-Austin. I’ve referred to that killer by name many times in the past. I won’t do so here — or ever again. He was killed by police officers.

Since then, well, we’ve had a number of them. The recent string of mass murders began with the Columbine High School massacre. It’s been a non-stop string of them ever since.

I will acknowledge having in the past referred to the two shooters at Columbine, to the madman at Newtown, Conn., to the (officially) alleged shooter in Charleston, S.C., and to the monster who killed those people in Orlando, Fla., by name already. Yes, there have been others. Too many others, to be sure.

My declaration came after the Orlando shooting, though.

When the Charleston suspect goes on trial, it will be difficult to refrain from identifying him by name, but I’ll give it a go. Maybe I’ll just refer to him as “the defendant.” Does that work?

The guy who shot those Dallas police officers to death this past week now deserves to be cast into oblivion. He’s dead, too, along with most of the aforementioned gunmen.

To mention their names is to call attention away — if only for an instant — from the victims of their heinous actions.

So, to assuage my own feelings, I hereby pledge to refrain from mentioning these monsters’ names out loud.

Will it take our minds off the evil acts they committed? Hardly. We all know what they did and we feel no less pain over the tragic loss of life by refusing to mention their names.

There. I feel better already.

Time for ‘kinder, gentler’ America


Myrna Raffkind writes frequently for the Amarillo Globe-News.

Her most recent opinion column appeared in today’s paper. I don’t subscribe to the paper; thus, I don’t see its online edition.

A Facebook friend posted Myrna’ column on his news feed. I picked it up and want to share it here.

If you have a moment, take some time read it. Myrna is one of the more thoughtful and, yes, “kinder and gentler” people I’ve ever known.


“An eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind.”
— Mahatma Gandhi

After Dylann Roof’s mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June in South Carolina, the major focus of media attention was on the display/removal of the Confederate flag and the controversy surrounding this issue. Scarcely noticed was another incident following the shooting; this incident being the reaction of the victim’s families when they were allowed to address Roof at the bond hearing. Over and over, the victim’s family members sent the same response — “We forgive him.”

Forgiveness, the willingness to suppress the urge to retaliate, is a concept that seems foreign and almost nonexistent in today’s society.
An “I’ll get you back” mentality seems to permeate the minds and hearts of many Americans. Interestingly, it seems that those who have suffered the most from genocide and abuse are often willing to forgive.

I often think of the words of Elie Weisel, a Holocaust survivor, a man who watched all of his family tortured and killed, a man who speaks for six million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. Weisel’s words of wisdom were that we should “forgive but not forget.”

Forgive, but not forget. This is the concept echoed by the greatest leaders of our times — Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Pope Francis. All of these men are speaking on behalf of a minority group that has been abused and mistreated for generation after generation. And yet, they saw the power of forgiveness and the futility of resentment. Their own words send a powerful message.

MLK said, “We must develop the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”

Gandhi’s words were, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Speaking on resentment, Mandela said, “Resentment is like a glass of poison that a man drinks; then he sits down and waits for his enemy to die.”

And more recently, Pope Francis stunned the Catholic world and aroused controversy when he declared forgiveness for women who have had abortions.

In Simon Weisenthal’s classic book, “The Sunflower,” he examines the possibilities and limitations of forgiveness. Wiesenthal, while a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp, was taken to visit a dying member of the SS. The German soldier asked Wiesenthal for forgiveness, and Wiesenthal’s response was one of silence. For the rest of his life, Wiesenthal wondered if he had taken the correct action. He asks 53 distinguished theologians, human rights activists, political leaders and writers what they would have done had they been in Wiesenthal’s situation. Their responses are thought-provoking as well as insightful.

Several said that forgiveness was possible, but only if it is accompanied by justice. Those who have committed atrocious acts must be punished so that we will never forget.

Other respondents, thinking of the many Germans who hid Jews in their homes or helped them escape, said that those who have a sense of collective guilt for the crimes that their leaders had engaged in could be forgiven, but never their leaders or those who perpetrated acts of genocide.

Another often-given response was that it made little difference what course of action Weisenthal took; ultimately the only one with the power to forgive was God.

Interestingly, none of the respondents advocated revenge. They note retaliation only hurts. Those consumed by anger lose their capacity for love.

It was not that long ago that President George Herbert Bush argued for a kinder, gentler America — an America that exemplified compassion and respect.

As I listen to the Republican presidential candidates, I wonder what has happened to Bush’s advice. It seems to me that the major tone of most politicians, regardless of political party, is one of anger and retribution. In the debates, there is so much bickering that little time is left for discussion of constructive and workable solutions to our nation’s pressing issues. Perhaps this is just “politics as usual,” but I cannot help but wonder if the time could have been spent more productively.

Would our country not be better off if we followed the example set by the Charleston families — of Weisel, Mandela, Gandhi and Pope Francis? If we opened our minds and hearts to forgiveness?

As Thanksgiving approaches, we reflect on our many blessings, some of which are the freedom to think for ourselves, to express ourselves and to recognize the greatness of our country rather than its shortcomings. Let us bear this in mind as we say our Thanksgiving prayers, and as we strive for a kinder, gentler America.

So long, President Davis


Weep not for the removal from the University of Texas-Austin grounds of a statue.

It is of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

The statue removal has been the subject of considerable angst at the campus. In the end, a judge said the statue could be removed.  So today it was taken down, wrapped up, put on a truck and will be taken to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

It need not be shown in a public place where everyone — including those who could be offended by a statue depicting someone who led the secessionist movement in the 19th century.

Davis statue comes down

It’s one more action taken in the wake of that monstrous shooting in Charleston, S.C., of nine African-Americans by someone who allegedly declared his intention to start a race war. A young man has been charged with the crime and this young man is known to have racist views and has been pictured with symbols of the Confederacy.

Do you get why the Jefferson Davis statue might be highly offensive, say, to many of the students and faculty members at UT-Austin?

According to the Texas Tribune: “UT Student Body President Xavier Rotnofsky — who proposed the removal of the statue as part of his satirical campaign — said the fight is over and he is happy to see the statue being moved.

“’It’s very satisfying,’ Rotnofsky said. ‘What started off as a very far-fetched idea during the campaign — we came through with and the school year has barely started.’

“He said the national conversation after the South Carolina shooting and the passion of students on UT’s campus made the removal possible.”

Yes, Davis is a historical figure in the strictest definition of the word. He also was a traitor to the United States of America. Has anyone lately seen any statues, for instance, of Benedict Arnold?

So, put Davis’s likeness in a museum, where it can be looked at and studied by those with an interest in the Civil War.

And be sure it includes all the reasons that Davis and the Confederacy went to war against the Union in the first place.

This shooting defies all logic


What in the name of all that is holy happened in Roanoke, Va.?

An apparently disgruntled former television station employee opened fire on a broadcast journalist interviewing someone and then on the cameraman who was video recording the event.

Then the shooter fled and later turned the gun on himself. His two victims died on the scene; the gunman died later.

The act went viral on social media. I’ve seen a clip of the event. It sickens me to the core.

Alison Parker was 24. Her cameraman was Adam Ward, 27. The man believed to have shot them was Vester Lee Flanagan, 41.

How in the world does one make sense of this?

There’s an element to this story that needs fleshing out. Someone turned in a fax to the station where Parker and Ward worked that declared Flanagan, an African-American, acted out of revenge over the Charleston, S.C., church massacre a few months ago in which a white man killed nine African-Americans. Flanagan’s victims were white.

As the Washington Post reported: “Why did I do it?” stated the fax, which was received shortly before 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday. “Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15…” The document goes on to state: “What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.”

It’s not yet been determined if the fax came from Flanagan.

If it did, then we have a serious hate crime on our hands. Authorities cannot prosecute the shooter, given his death.

I hope with all my heart that someone other than Flanagan submitted the document.

However, even if that’s the case, are we now talking about a major ratcheting up of racial tension — yet again?


‘Southern heritage’ surfaces yet again

Can there be a more profound demonstration of what the Confederate battle flag means to most Americans than what transpired recently at a famous Atlanta, Ga., church?

Surveillance video captured images of a couple of men placing the flag around Ebeneezer Baptist Church, where the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — one of the 20th century’s greatest Americans — used to preach.

Hmm. Very interesting, don’t you agree?


Why do you suppose the individuals seen on the video were doing that? Was it because they wanted to demonstrate their “pride” in their “Southern heritage”?

Or, perhaps they wanted to send some other kind of message to the congregants at the church, the vast majority of whom are African-American.

Here, folks, is why the Confederate battle flag has become such a symbol of hate.

It’s been in the news lately. Nine African-Americans were murdered by a white gunman as they studied the Bible together in Charleston, S.C. A young suspect arrested and charged with the crime is known to have hatred toward African-Americans and he, too, has been photographed displaying with great pride the Confederate battle flag.

The South Carolina legislature voted to take the battle flag down from the statehouse grounds where it had flown since the 1960s to protest landmark civil rights legislation enacted by Congress.

Now this, at Ebeneezer Baptist Church.

“To place Confederate flags on the campus of Ebenezer Baptist Church – after this horrific act in Charleston [and] in the wake of all that’s happening in our country – whatever the message was it clearly was not about heritage,” the Rev. Raphael Warnock said. “It was about hate.”

Do you think?

Klansman statement is soaked in irony

Time for a pop quiz, ladies and gentlemen.

You ready? Here goes: What comes into your mind — immediately — when you hear the term “Ku Klux Klan”?

Time’s up.

The answer should be: hatred, bigotry, violence, virulent and vicious racism and anti-Semitism.

It is with that context established that I must offer a brief comment on a statement offered this weekend at a clash between supporters of the KKK and the Black Panthers, who gathered in front of the South Carolina state capitol to protest the taking down of the Confederate flag. The flag came down as a response to the heinous murders of nine African-Americans at a church in Charleston, S.C., by a white gunman. A young man is accused of the crime.


The KKK and the Panthers rallied today to express different points of view of the flag.

One comment stands out, at least to me. It came from a Klansman, who told CNN: “The Confederate flag does not represent hate. A lot of Americans died for that flag,”

Ah, yes. It “does not represent hate.”

Back to my question about the Klan: What words come to mind when you hear the term?

I’ve actually covered a couple of Klan rallies. Both were in Texas; one in Orange and one in Amarillo. They took place to protest government policies that helped African-Americans. What was the predominant symbol seen at both rallies? The Confederate battle flag.

Let’s recall — if we need reminding — that the Klan has a long and infamous history of violence toward blacks and Jews. Lynching? Shootings? Arson? Cross-burnings?

And they have performed these acts while standing next to or under the Confederate battle flag. They’ve wrapped themselves in that banner. They proclaimed proudly that they stand for what the flag stands for. And that would be … ?

The Klansman is right about one element of his statement. A “lot of Americans” did die for the flag. He didn’t say, apparently, that they fought on the side that sought to tear the country apart. Why was that? Because they fought that that euphemistic principle of “states’ rights,” which was to allow states to continue the practice of slavery.

So, let’s quit slinging the horse manure around on this issue.