Charleston and Empathy

I feel that I need to say something about the act of domestic terrorism that happened in Charleston, South Carolina yesterday evening.

I use the term “domestic terrorism” deliberately. A man went into a church, sat with twelve people for an hour, and murdered nine of them, reloading his weapon, according to a surviving witness, five times. African-American churches have been terrorized throughout the South for two hundred years. That church, Mother Emanuel AME, was burned to the ground and later outlawed by an act of the South Carolina state legislature because the white planter class of the state felt threatened by it. The state even built the original building of the Citadel, South Carolina’s military college, across the street from the church and turned its cannons on it.

I keep coming back to one question. No, not “why,” though I don’t understand what the motive could possibly be.

My question for the shooter is this.

“How can you be so bereft of empathy and love for your fellow human beings that you could do this? Those nine people were the same as you. They breathed the same air. They drank the same water. The blood that flowed in their veins was just like the blood that flows in yours. They had the same fears and hopes that you do. They loved and they hurt just like you. They welcomed you. They sat with you. They talked with you. They may even have offered you cookies and punch. You shot them, and you murdered them. How could you look at them and feel no remorse? How could you empty your gun and reload again and again? How could you hear their screams from the pain you caused and feel nothing? How could you do this?”

I don’t know what else to say.

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