We were parked at our hotel here in Charleston SC, and a friend hipped us to the fact that the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was just around the corner. This was the location of the horrific mass shooting back in 2015, a “sick piece of history” our friend called, I’m sure you remember it.
As I walked over with Chris D, we pondered the unbelievable narrative of this particular tragedy - it’s easy to let the view of our fellow man darken, and to imagine all the sick things we are capable of. But that’s not the reason to go and have a look at it, though it is a piece of sad history. There is a reason beyond morbid curiosity. From deep in the American psyche, from a most noble, good and true people, the Quakers, who - in my understanding, as part of their regimen of non-violence, command us to ‘bear witness’.
Of course it’s quite a bit deeper in the actual faith, with living true to your word and God and all, - I believe it is one of the founding principals of Greenpeace though, to just go there and see, to let your eyes and consciousness come to comprehend a crime, it’s the first small step, sometime I’m not sure to where.
It’s a beautiful church, both in architecture and history - a center for the black liberation movement apparently. And it was heartening to see the regular Sunday schedule - life goes on somehow I guess. There’s a flower on the lower door and several other tourists - witness’, came by while we paid our respects in awkward photos.
Walking back I realized I didn’t know but the faintest outline of the details. I’m sorry it’s just a combination of tragedy fatigue and not wanting to know. I don’t want one bit of the sick thinking that resulted in this to enter my consciousness. And the image of these faithful souls being murdered while in prayer is just too much to take. But that’s the discipline of the Quakers I suppose, bearing the witnessing. I couldn’t get through the wikipedia page without retching.
The shooter will be put to death, and hopefully failed in his aim to start a race war. It was a tipping point on the confederate flag, and from my perspective it’s a lot more pleasant down in these-here parts without it everywhere.
That is certainly cold comfort for this community though, and my witnessing sure seems insignificant. Certainly the murderer is insane, how can he not be? And a cold rationality will tell us that he is indeed - he’s a victim, and worse and more scary a symptom.
And it’s a dark day in the sunshine here, when a case can be made that his compatriots are taking over the government, while no mention is made of the network of hateful evil - that we all know damn well supported this kid and fed his diseased mind. We know there are many others, perhaps less vicious and stupid, but just as steeped in evil.
That is the sad witness this day friends. When we’re talking about the Alt. Right or White Supremacist or whatever, clearly racists - in the goddamn Whitehouse? It is another tragedy to see, to bear, and what? How can we be letting this happen when this is the horrible fruit they bear?
Charleston South Carolina, Cold and Clear.