Remembering the Victims in Charleston

June 23, 2015 § 7 Comments

Sometime last week, someone in my Facebook world posted a Morrissey video.  I haven’t thought about Morrissey in a long time, other than when he says something profoundly stupid and embarrassing in public.  And then I think, “Oh yeah, there was a time when Mozzer was my favourite pop star.”  And then I feel slightly embarrassed.  But.  This video was “The Last of the International Playboys,” from Mozza’s 1990 classic, Bona Drag. 

The lyrics:

In our lifetime,
Those who kill,
The newsworld hands them stardom

have really caught my attention in the past few days.

Last week, something horrible and heinous happened in Charleston, South Carolina.  If you live under a rock and don’t know what happened, follow this link.  This act of domestic terrorism appalled, sickened, and depressed me.  This was just one more example of why #blacklivesmatter.  I felt hopeless, powerless, and lost. It doesn’t matter if you’re American or not (I’m not, I just live here).  And the tut-tutting from Canadians, Brits, and others about American violence is equally pointless.  On the other hand, President Obama is right: this doesn’t happen in other advanced nations.

And now, I am completely inundated with images of the racist jackass who committed this terrorist act in Charleston. I can’t escape it. I can’t escape him (I will not name him, I refuse. Why? Read this about the Montréal Massacre of 1989).  My Facebook feed, Twitter, the basic internet: All I see is this terrorist’s stupid, smirking face. I don’t want to.  I don’t want to see him, I don’t want to hear from him, I don’t care.  Others can care, they can worry why he committed an act of terror in African Methodist Episcopal Church (a Church! A place of sanctuary!) in Charleston.

This terrorist is being given a form of stardom for his heinous acts.  What should matter is the victims.  They are:

  • Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, 54. She was a manager of the Charleston County Public Library system; her brother is Malcolm Graham, a member of the South Carolina Senate.
  • Susie Jackson, 87. A member of the church choir and a veteran of the civil rights movement.
  • Ethel Lee Lance, 70.  She was the church sexton.
  • Depayne Middleton-Doctor, 59. A school administrator and admissions co-ordinate at Southern Wesleyan University.
  • Clementa Pinckney, 41.  She was the church pastor and a South Carolina State Senator.
  • Tywanza Sanders, 26.  He was Susie Jackson’s nephew.
  • Daniel Simmons, 74.  He was a pastor at the Greater Zion African Methodist Episcopalian Church in Awendaw, South Carolina.
  • Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45. Also a pastor, she was a speech therapist and track and field coach at Goose Creek High School.
  • Myra Thompston, 59.  She was a Bible studies teacher.

That’s nine people.  Think of the constellations of their relationships, partners, aunts, uncles, parents, kids, nieces, nephews, co-workers, students, friends, etc.  Think of all the people who are grieving.  That is more important than the terrorist who killed them.


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§ 7 Responses to Remembering the Victims in Charleston

  • YES! You have highlighted a major phenomenon here. Take a look at the New Yorker article on May 25th: “The Inexplicable” by Karl Knausgaard. It focuses on the twisted mind of Anders Breivik who murdered 77 people in Norway on July 22, 2011. And now what people are seeing are photos of him – not of their children that were massacred in cold blood in a deliberate and planned manner. Now think of the many hundreds or even thousands of people still grieving 4 years later…but see only the killer. Brevik wanted to be a “star” and that is exactly what he became. And what is to be done? We all want to try to understand what was going on in the mind of this and other mass murderers. While this may be human nature – we then tend to forget those destroyed in the process.

    • Yup. I get why people are fascinated with these men, and I understand why we want to understand them, it’s the same phenomenon with the legions of academics and lay people who want to “understand” Hitler. And, on one hand, I support that. It’s not enough to dismiss Hitler as a psychopath and move on.

      But, we all know what the terrorists look like in Norway, Montréal, Sandy Hook, Charleston, etc. We don’t remember the victims. And that’s pathetic.

  • Chrissy says:

    so sad and so true

  • Luna Darcy says:

    My heart goes out to the loved ones of this people. Thanks for this post, we are reminded on whose lives matter.

  • Sadly, people tend to focus on the perpetrator and not on the context upon which he grew. Such an extreme act doesn’t happen out of nowhere but I get your point.

    • You’re right, this doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and we need to understand why it happened. But, what bothers me, whether it’s this guy or Adolph Hitler, is that we also tend to try to make these people exceptional, or deviant, or dehumanize them. That doesn’t help. Evil is part of humanity.

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