Yes, Dylann Roof Is A Terrorist

A word that has come in recent years to be used to refer chiefly to Muslim fanatics obviously applies to a man who murdered nine people because they're black.

Dylann Roof

In The Washington Post, Anthea Butler repeats an argument that I have seen elsewhere in the roughly 36 hours since the shootings at Emanuel AME Church and the 24 hours since Dylann Roof was identified as the suspect caught on surveillance cameras and captured 200 miles away in North Carolina, namely the idea that Roof is being treated differently from some other attackers:

Police are investigating the shooting of nine African Americans at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston as a hate crime committed by a white man. Unfortunately, it’s not a unique event in American history. Black churches have long been a target of white supremacists who burned and bombed them in an effort to terrorize the black communities that those churches anchored. One of the most egregious terrorist acts in U.S. history was committed against a black church in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963. Four girls were killed when members of the KKK bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church, a tragedy that ignited the Civil Rights Movement.

But listen to major media outlets and you won’t hear the word “terrorism” used in coverage of Tuesday’s shooting. You won’t hear the white male shooter, identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof, described as “a possible terrorist.” And if coverage of recent shootings by white suspects is any indication, he never will be. Instead, the go-to explanation for his actions will be mental illness. He will be humanized and called sick, a victim of mistreatment or inadequate mental health resources. Activist Deray McKesson noted this morning that, while discussing Roof’s motivations, an MSNBC anchor said ”we don’t know his mental condition.” That is the power of whiteness in America.

U.S. media practice a different policy when covering crimes involving African Americans and Muslims. As suspects, they are quickly characterized asterrorists and thugs, motivated by evil intent instead of external injustices. While white suspects are lone wolfs — Mayor Joseph Riley of Charleston already emphasized 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. Michael Brown stole cigars. Eric Garner sold loosie cigarettes. When a black teenager who committed no crime was tackled and held down by a police officer at a pool party in McKinney, Tex., Fox News host Megyn Kellydescribed her as “No saint either.”

Early news reports on the Charleston church shooting followed a similar pattern.

Dean Obendallah makes a similar point at The Daily Beast:

The ‎Charleston shooting‬ involved the assassination of a state senator and the intentional killing and terrorizing of African Americans. This was a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. It’s really that simple.

Yet we still aren’t hearing the media, law enforcement, or elected officials describe it as such. Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley, Jr., called this horrific attack everything but terrorism: “This is an unfathomable and unspeakable act, committed by a hateful and deranged mind.

And the media have employed words like “egregious” and “heartbreaking,” but there has been little discussion of whether the deadly assault by Dylann Roof was terrorism under U.S. law. (Although I must commend CNN’s Chris Cuomo for raising the terrorism angle on New Day Thursday morning and for tweeting during that discussion: “terrorism doesn’t just mean ‘Muslim extremism.'”)

(…)

When you examine what we know about Roof and what he reportedly stated during the shooting, it’s clear to me that he wanted to “coerce and intimidate” America’s black population. His Facebook page depicted him wearing a jacked adorned with the flags of two former white supremacist governments (apartheid era South Africa and Rhodesia.) Experts note that these are both symbols of thewhite supremacist movement. Also Roof’s car had a license plate with the Confederate flag affixed to it.

During the shooting, Roof reportedly told witnesses that he was there “to shoot black people.” Even more telling was Roof’s remark, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

Keep in mind that Roof didn’t attack a church near his home in Lexington, South Carolina. Instead he traveled nearly two hours to a historic church for the black community, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. As President Obama noted in his remarks Thursday, this was “more than a church. This is a place of worship that was founded by African Americans seeking liberty. This is a church that was burned to the ground because its worshipers worked to end slavery.”

In fact, this very church was co-founded by Denmark Vesey, who was one of the leaders of a planned slave revolt in the Charleston area in 1822. That revolt was planned to happen on June 17, 1822, 193 years to the day before Roof’s attack. (The revolt was thwarted by local officials and Vesey, along with five slaves, were hung after a secret trial.)

There actually seem to be two points intertwined in what Butler and Obendallah are talking about here. Initially, they both make mention of the fact that, especially in the initial hours after the attack, there were people in the media and politicians in South Carolina who were expressing what you might call shock and surprise that “something like this” could happen in modern America. On some level, I suppose, this is a natural reaction that people often have to tragedies like this and to that extent its understandable. It’s hard, I think, for people to conceive of the idea that there are people in the world capable of committing acts like this, or the shooting at the movie theater in Aurora, or the Sandy Hook massacre, so we tend to comfort ourselves by thinking that this is some anomalous event that doesn’t have any overall meaning.

Beyond that superficial level, though, it seems to me that this attitude — which roughly boils down to the “crime, boy I don’t know” line that Governor Rob Ritchie uttered at the end of Season Three of The West Wing — is just really incredibly naive.  Do the people who say these things not pay attention to the world we live in? Are they really stupid enough to believe that evil and bigotry and hatred have been banished from the world? It was only 52 years ago that a group of men set off explosives at a church in Birmingham, Alabama and killed four young African-American girls. Are we really think things have changed so much that there are not people in this country capable of such acts even today? Granted, racial prejudice even in the Deep South is not as prevalent as it used to be, thankfully, but it most assuredly still exists and it seems rather obvious that this mentality influenced Roof on some level. As Obendallah notes above, his Facebook profile, which you can see at the top of his post, includes patches of the flags of apartheid South Africa and the unrecognized apartheid-like state of Rhodesia which existed from 1965 to 1979 and was run by its white minority government along roughly the same lines as the government that existed at the time in Johannesburg. His roommate and others that knew him described his descent into the kind of white nationalist racism that has reared its head all too often in the past. And, of course, according to the reports that have come through those who have talked to the three survivors of the attack, he told his victims before he killed them that he had to kill them to prevent African-Americans from “raping” whites and “taking over our country.” The events of the world make it clear that there area still unfortunately plenty of people capable of committing the acts that Roof committed in Charleston, and one would have to be willfully blind to deny the fact that the ideology that appears to have motivated him still exists in corners of this country.

The second point that Butler and Obledallah make is that there seems to be a tendency to use different rhetoric when referring to something like the Boston Marathon Bombing, for example, and Wednesday night’s events in Charleston. In the first case, the act was almost immediately described as an act of terrorism, and that was obviously what it was. In this case, though, and even more so in the cases of people like Adam Lanza, James Holmes, and Wade Michael Page, the rhetoric from some corners concentrates more on the argument that this person was an anomaly or that they were “mentally ill,” whatever that may mean. To be fair, in the cases of Lanza and Holmes, as well as the case of Jared Loughner and Seung-Hui Cho, there was clear evidence that those people were suffering from some sort of mental illness long before they went on their respective rampages. As I said in the aftermath of Loughner’s attack (see here, here, and here), it’s apparent that we have real issues in this country in diagnosing and treating mental illness that makes acts like theirs more likely.

We don’t know very much about Roof’s actual mental state right now. There have been the typical reports about him being an introvert and a loner that seem to be said about every person like this, and he did have a criminal record although the charges did not consist of any type of violent crime. The charge pending against him, though, was a felony and it while it would have been illegal for him to purchase  a weapon on his own, he apparently obtained one as a gift from his father, though it is not clear if that is the weapon used Wednesday night. That too is a discussion worth having, as President Obama noted in his remarks yesterday morning. However, nothing that we know about Roof suggests that he suffered from the kind of diminished capacity that would decrease moral culpability.

“Terrorism” today tends to be a word that is limited only to acts by fundamentalist Muslims, but it’s worth noting that it has a much longer history than that in the United States. On September 16th, 1920 nearly 150 were killed, and hundreds more injured, in a bombing by anarchists. Before the September 11th attacks, the deadliest terrorist act on American soil was committed with Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols plotted to carry out revenge for the Waco disaster. I’m not sure where Roof fits into all of that, but to the extent that he seems to have been clearly motivated by ideology rather than just the random desire to kill people, he certainly falls into the category somewhere. It also seems quite apparent, though, that Roof was steeped in racism and that this is no small part of what motivated him to take the roughly two hour trip from his home to Charleston to one of the more significant African-American churches in the country. If Roof’s problems were just about mental illness, then he likely would’ve picked out any other random target, likely one closer to where he lived. The fact that he went to Emanual A.M.E. Church suggests that he was targeting that specific church for a specific reason. In a confession made to authorities after he was arrested yesterday, Roof apparently stated that he committed the murders because he wanted to start a race war. If that doesn’t make him as much of a terrorist as Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who targeted the Finish Line of the Boston Marathon for very specific reasons, then I’m not quite sure what would.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Race and Politics, Terrorism, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    He cannot be a terrorist because he is not a Muslim and we all know that all the terrorists are Muslims and that all Muslims are terrorists. That is why profiling is so important. Because we must stop the Muslims, who are all terrorists.

  2. Mu says:

    The difference between a deranged murderer and a terrorist is motivation. The terrorist kills for a goal, to either directly get the “enemy” to give up, or, as in the case of the more sophisticated terrorists of the seventies, to get the state to overreact and force the people to rise in their support.
    As this latest guy hasn’t published anything and wasn’t part of any organization I can’t really see how he’s a terrorist in the political sense.

  3. An Interested Party says:

    I can’t really see how he’s a terrorist in the political sense.

    As was mentioned on another thread, it seems as though this person specifically targeted this church and the black people in it…if that isn’t terrorism, what is…

  4. rodney dill says:

    While I don’t consider Roof’s acts any less heinous than the Tsarnaev’s bombings or other acts of terrorism, I wouldn’t generally refer to the shooting as an act of terrorism.

    Is their any understanding or value to be gained by referring to it or categorizing it as terrorism?
    Does it invoke any greater criminal penalties?

  5. gVOR08 says:

    Wiki:

    Terrorist: 1. A person, group, or organization that uses violent action, or the threat of violent action, to further political goals.

    If it’s true he wanted to start a race war, then black letter, he’s a terrorist. The fact that a plan is stupid does not make it not a plan.

    Awaiting information, I’ll hold off on whether he was part of an organization, keeping in mind that in the internet age “part of an organization” is a somewhat fuzzy concept. He got those flag patches somewhere. Anybody know what the round patch on the other side is?

    Also, ‘is he crazy or is he a terrorist’ is a false dichotomy. For almost all false dichotomies, and for this one definitely, the answer is “yes”.

  6. Mr. Prosser says:

    I read that there is spin going on to say this was an attack against Christians and all Christians are in danger not just African-Americans. A tweet I read in response to this lie: Are you for real #FoxNews? #CharlestonShooting is an attack on faith like 911 was an attack on skyscraper architects pic.twitter.com/RrjaYK74u6

  7. Mu says:

    @An Interested Party: For a simple hypothetical answer to that question, if he had a white girlfriend who ditched him for a black guy, triggering his outburst, that clearly wouldn’t qualify as terrorism.

  8. Is their any understanding or value to be gained by referring to it or categorizing it as terrorism?
    Does it invoke any greater criminal penalties?

    Uh…then why did we need all those special laws and enhanced punishments for crimes after 9/11?

    Can’t speak for South Carolina, but a murder during an act of terrorism is another qualifier for the death penalty here in Virginia (see: Muhammad, John Allen), not to mention also opening the person, as well as any potential co-conspirators, to federal charges.

  9. appleannie says:

    Of course it was terrorism. I guess I’m naive enough to wonder why that might be in doubt. I watched and listened yesterday as the usual suspects claimed he was mentally ill, that the solution is “good guys with guns” and even, ferpete’ssake, the suggestion that he was targeting Christians rather than blacks. By my lights, anyone who goes out and kills a bunch of people has screws loose but it’s a cop out to blame mental illness and those good guys with guns are part of the problem. Lindsey Graham’s suggestion just caused me to spit tea all over my monitor. The denial runs deep.

  10. JohnMcC says:

    @rodney dill: You are correct in this instance and in the general observation that things have different names and the name we most commonly call them is a significant thing. In this particular case to call a multiple murder ‘terrorism’ is to join (rhetorically at least) ‘racists’ with ‘terrorists’ making them socially unacceptable in a stronger way than was common before such use. We’ve known for ages how labeling works and today have renamed it ‘branding’.

  11. @gVOR08:

    Or, as the FBI defines it:

    “Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:

    Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;

    Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and

    Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

    https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/terrorism/terrorism-definition

  12. Neil Hudelson says:

    @rodney dill:

    It better helps define the word, rather than its current usage which–other commenters highlighted–is associated with acts of Muslim extremism. That feeds into the incredibly harmful stereotype that C. Clavin pointed out.

    It also knocks down the privilege–discussed at length in the post–that white people get a bigger “pass” by the jury-by-media that all front page crimes are subjected to.

  13. rodney dill says:

    @JohnMcC: Agreed. I’m not arguing strongly, (or at all), that it shouldn’t be called terrorism, its just not the word that comes to mind for me.

    I did some further looking and found some justification/reason that some might want to refer to is as racism.

  14. Ron Beasley says:

    The word terrorism has become somewhat meaningless since 911.

  15. dmhlt says:
  16. rodney dill says:

    @Neil Hudelson: I’ve never felt the current usage only applied to extremist muslims or muslims in general. I found C. Clavins attempt to purport that this is the only general use to be specious. if not obtuse.

  17. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mu:

    As this latest guy hasn’t published anything and wasn’t part of any organization I can’t really see how he’s a terrorist in the political sense.

    If that’s the standard, then the Tsarnaev brothers of the Boston Marathon bombing weren’t terrorists either….

  18. gVOR08 says:

    @Mr. Prosser: This is a southern white guy with a concealed carry gun displaying racism (which no longer exists, except as reverse racism against whites, since Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act). Calling it “terrorism” will lead to a good deal of cognitive dissonance amongst our conservative friends. Hence, it must not be called “terrorism”.

  19. Neil Hudelson says:

    @rodney dill:

    It was a specious way of putting it, but the idea holds true. While you in particular may not associate the word “terrorism,” with Islam, there is certainly a very large segment of the population that does. They may not do it consciously out of malice (although many do; see: Idian, Jenos), but in our post-9/11 world, the “terrorism” has become too closely associated in its usage to “muslim.”

    Or, a shorter way of putting it, if we are going to call Fort Hood “terrorism” (as we should), then this is also “terrorism.”

  20. michael reynolds says:

    I believe the will to murder pre-exists political conditioning in most cases. “Radicalization” occurs in fertile soil, young men looking for action, for significance, craving violence and the masculine validation they think it confers. The political motivation is an after-market add-on; it starts with a young male looking to kill. That holds true whether it’s some Saudi jihadi or a Southern white racist.

    The problem we have is that it is impossible to weed out every young male looking for trouble. We have always had, and will always have (unless we start bio engineering humans) these people. What we need to do is not hand deadly weapons to these people.

    There is a direct line of connection between the terrorist and the police officer we see pumping bullets into some random black person. The emotional core is the same. Young males looking to prove themselves, young males looking for the validation of violence, young males looking to kill.

    In a rational world, a world where we are not hobbled by the insanity of the Second Amendment, the answer would be perfectly clear: remove guns from society. We can’t remove every young male hopped up on testosterone and insecurity, we can however reduce their capacity for harm.

    People buy guns in order to kill. That is the real reason. Target practice, hunting, that’s what, 5% of gun purchases? The other 95% are to people – almost invariably male, with the gun addiction usually starting early – who purchase in contemplation of killing. No man has ever held a gun without imagining its effect on another human being. That is the fantasy: to kill a man. That’s why we have a society saturated in guns and a fanatic cult defending their pernicious, destructive effects.

    People who open carry guns are their own brand of terrorist. They want to be seen as powerful. They want to be seen as dangerous. They crave significance. And they carry guns in order to intimidate, to terrorize. They are looking for an opportunity to kill.

    Guns are for killing and for threatening people with death. That is what connects the open-carry fanatic, the rogue cop and the terrorist: the nexus of a will-to-murder and the murder tools our society willingly supplies.

  21. Scott says:

    I think by definition, his actions and words, that this shooting meets the definition of terrorism.

    Of more import, when are we going to explicitly recognized the true nature of the danger to this country.

    From the New York Times:

    In a survey we conducted with the Police Executive Research Forum last year of 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction; 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations. And only 3 percent identified the threat from Muslim extremists as severe, compared with 7 percent for anti-government and other forms of extremism.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/16/opinion/the-other-terror-threat.html

    These extremists are a danger to the country. They are aided and abetted by the right wing. Many on the right can be considered terrorist sympathizers. It is political correctness that is preventing law enforcement actions against these groups.

  22. James Joyner says:

    I’m skeptical of the use of the “terrorist” label here in the same way I was with Nadal Hasan. If it’s just a lone wolf operation by a nut job, the political cause strikes me as almost meaningless.

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard Charles Manson described as a terrorist, yet he murdered seven people with the stated motivation of starting a race war. Arguably, since he actually had a group of followers, he’s a more according-to-Hoyle terrorist than this putz.

    The KKK is clearly a terrorist organization. But I’m not sure a random yahoo who hates black people and goes off on a killing spree is anything more than a mass murderer.

  23. Ron Beasley says:

    Terrorism is a tactic not an ideology. It is an attempt to change things through fear. Elements of the antiwar movement during the Vietnam war certainly qualify as terrorists. The participants of the 911 attacks certainly qualify as terrorists. I’m really not so sure about this deranged pill popping kid.

  24. Neil Hudelson says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I couldn’t find too many studies on the purpose behind most gun purchases, but I did find a few. The best stats I can find state that about half of guns purchased are for “protection,” while about a third are for hunting.

    That’s almost an exact reversal from 1999.

    Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/12/poll-gun-protection/1982749/

    I will say anecdotally, growing up in rural southern Indiana–which might as well be Alabama–most people I knew at the time talked about their next gun purchase in the context of either just the joy of making loud booms, or hunting.

    That changed right around 9/11; Obama’s election made it worse (for the obvious, wrongheaded reasons.)

    I guess that’s a long winded way of saying you are generally right in sentiment when looking at trends, but you are discounting just how many guns people in rural areas buy for the express purpose of shooting their next dinner.

  25. Modulo Myself says:

    Terrorism is such a constructed term and it’s a way to avoid the truth, which is that white supremacy is very inclusive. You can shoot up a church in order to defend the white race or you can start a militia and buy a hundred guns and worry about the government. If that’s not to your liking, you can be a police officer patrolling a war-zone filled with thugs or you can refuse to hire more-qualified black applicants or you can zone to your heart’s delight in order to keep your neighborhood pure. Dylann Roof is obviously way down the ladder. A white supremacist who has a better place in society and more (or any) social capital has different options. It’s quite possible to be a happy well-adjusted non-racist white supremacist who thinks the Confederate flag is about heritage, that poor blacks need to step up, and that the cause of this whole Dylann Roof thing is a giant mystery.

  26. Mikey says:

    @James Joyner: IMO this is a distinction without a difference. Whether the guy’s a “lone wolf” or not, he was motivated and influenced by a larger movement–in Hasan’s case it was extremist Islam, in Roof’s case the white supremacist movement. Both are terrorists because they killed to advance their chosen cause, and whether they coordinated with others or did it sua sponte is irrelevant.

  27. rodney dill says:

    @Ron Beasley: I tend to agree with you. On the other hand, if its discovered that there is an organized group (even loosely organized) or and individual that put him up to this, then I could think otherwise.

  28. Hal_10000 says:

    I have no problems calling eco-terrorists as such or calling McVeigh a terrorist. Assuming the information is correct, I don’t have any problem calling Roof a terrorist. This is different from someone blowing a gasket and shooting up a mall or something. This was deliberate and targeted, with cold malevolent intent.

    I can see why some people see a difference. Islamic terrorism is state-supported, involves organizations with hundreds of members and is being used to advance a very specific goal of instituting fundamentalist Islam. By that stands, you could call him a “lone wolf”, I guess. But he’s still a terrorist. And it’s not like he invented racism all on his own.

  29. grumpy realist says:

    @michael reynolds: You realize you’ve just explained a lot of wars?

    They’re mainly used as a way to get rid of testosterone-addled young men who might otherwise be going around wrecking havoc in society. Europe used to send them on Crusades, as well.

  30. rodney dill says:

    @Mikey: The difference in this case is did he just pick up the racist rhetoric or ideas by gleaning thinks from the web, other individuals, and through his own paranoia/delusions or was he an indoctrinated member of a white supremacist organization. I don’t have the answer to this, but this is what would sway my thinking one way or the other.

  31. anjin-san says:

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard Charles Manson described as a terrorist

    Was terrorist even a part of the vocabulary at the time of the Manson murders? Our perception of what Manson is was cast the better part of half a century ago. It’s not a valid comparison.

  32. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds:

    People buy guns in order to kill.

    Then over 300 million guns are going to waste.

    People buy guns for self protection. A gun is the great equalizer. It has the same deadly affect on a 230lb man when wielded by a 230lb male victim or wielded by a 113lb female victim. If even one parishioner at the church had a gun and the willingness to defend him/herself and others, this would be a different story today. Roof reloaded 3-5 times according to witnesses.

    You’ll notice that this was yet another gun free zone–like Aurora, like Newtown, like Virginia Tech. I’m sure there were plenty of locations he could have sought out where there were dense minority populations that would not be so disarmed, but instead he went to a church where he knew he would find helpless victims and would likely succeed in his murderous plot.

    But of course, the simple mind blames the tool, not the actor.

  33. Gustopher says:

    His methods didn’t get past the “angry guy with gun” level that we see in this country with alarming frequency, and there is no information that he was working with others, or that he was being specifically influenced by others. There was no organized (or disorganized) campaign of terror.

    I don’t think he has really earned his terrorist badge. He’s just another spree killer. A racist spree killer, sure. If we learn that he was preparing this for weeks, then maybe, but he is likely just angry racist with a gun who finally snapped. If they find the plans for the next set of targets, then definitely. But as of what we know… He’s just a racist spree killer.

    Compare with the guy who killed Dr. Tiller — more targeted, and directed by others towards his target as part of an organized campaign of terror. That guy, and Bill O’Reilly, are clearly terrorists.

    Or the Tsarnov (sp?) brothers who worked together, crafted a plan that went way beyond “angry guy with gun”, and had a muddled political goal. Terrorists.

  34. motopilot says:

    @michael reynolds: Perhaps you’d be interested to learn of the response from the NRA.

  35. motopilot says:

    For some reason, it wasn’t included. And now for the missing link:
    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/06/18/3671649/nra-board-member-blames-charleston-victim-death/

  36. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jack:

    You realize all you did just there, far from refuting Michael, is list the different types of killing you can do with a gun?

    Buying a gun for “protection” because it’s an “equalizer” is still buying it to kill people. At no point did Michael claim guns were purchased solely for murder.

  37. grumpy realist says:

    @Gustopher: Well, if they believe he’s a terrorist they might spend a little more time tracking down idiots like him and start paying a little more attention to said loudmouths.

    The reason the US hasn’t gone after these doofuses yet is because most of those who mouth off on the internet (e.g. Reddit) are the proverbial Dorito-munching rejects who would, as the saying goes, “f*ck up a two-car funeral.” (Witness our trolls, please.)

  38. Mikey says:

    @rodney dill: My point is it’s the motivation and reasoning that make it terrorism, and one doesn’t have to be a member of an organized group for it to be so. I’ve never seen anything that indicates the Tsarnaev brothers were part of a larger movement, but their action is generally accepted as a terrorist attack.

  39. cian says:

    But I’m not sure a random yahoo who hates black people and goes off on a killing spree is anything more than a mass murderer.

    Unless, of course, you happen to be an African American living in today’s south. For many, the state police are seen as an occupying force and too often acts like it.. In Charleston, the very streets they walk on are named after civil war veterans who fought and died so no black person could walk those very same streets freely. The only flag still flying at full mast is the flag they see as a symbol of the hatred that drove Roof to act as he did. A flag a majority of their representatives insist must not be moved. Roof may be a Yahoo, but there’s nothing random about the orchestrated hatred which surrounded his growing up.

  40. Jack says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    You realize all you did just there, far from refuting Michael, is list the different types of killing you can do with a gun?

    And yet, none of my vast arsenal has been used to kill someone. Maybe they are broke.

  41. grumpy realist says:

    @Jack: So Dylann Roof picked up a gun “for protection”, huh?

    He just didn’t have that “self-defense” argument down pat enough, I guess. After all, he did say “you kill us and rape our women”. Enough of a reason to kill all those people in the church, right?

  42. Jack says:

    @grumpy realist: What Roof did was not self defense in any sense of the meaning. No one was threating Roof.

    Additionally, self defense doesn’t mean killing. It means stopping the threat…not walking around unhindered picking off helpless victims.

    You ma’am, are despicable.

  43. grumpy realist says:

    @Jack: Roof thought what he was doing was “self-defense.” Read his words.

    And the head of the NRA is now blaming people at the church for having been killed because they weren’t armed with guns.

    Talk about despicable.

  44. rodney dill says:

    @Mikey: …and the motivation and reasoning are why I currently don’t think of it as terrorism. Same information, different conclusions.

  45. C. Clavin says:

    @rodney dill:
    Then you aren’t paying attention to Republucan rhetoric.

  46. grumpy realist says:

    @Jack:

    We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.

  47. rodney dill says:

    @C. Clavin: True, or at least your rhetoric about theirs.

  48. MikeSJ says:

    @Jack:

    You’ll notice that this was yet another gun free zone–like Aurora, like Newtown, like Virginia Tech. I’m sure there were plenty of locations he could have sought out where there were dense minority populations that would not be so disarmed, but instead he went to a church where he knew he would find helpless victims and would likely succeed in his murderous plot.

    Most places – work, school, malls, restaurants – are free of guns. This isn’t the Wild West. Other than law enforcement 99% of the population isn’t carrying their gat with them.

    The idea that to be safe one must carry a gun around at all times is ridiculous.

    If you think that’s how you want to live you can always give Somalia a try.

  49. Rick DeMent says:

    @anjin-san:

    Our perception of what Manson is was cast the better part of half a century ago. It’s not a valid comparison.

    It’s funny though, when I first heard of this Manson was the first thing that popped into my mind. He was trying to start a Race war too. In fact if this kid ad sent a bunch of “followers” to do the deed it woulod be a spot on comparison. I’m more sympathetic to Dr. Joyner’s position, that his actions were more influenced by his mental state then his politics in much the same way as the Fort Hood shooter (substituting politics for religion).

    I mean who here thinks that the solution, if there is one, for terrorism would also address the issues that made this guy (Or the Ft. Hood guy) shoot up a church?

    On the other hand the nonsense coming out of FOX News is just pathetic.

  50. Mikey says:

    @rodney dill: Our apparent disagreement on this just shows how nebulous the definition of “terrorism” is, I think.

  51. Modulo Myself says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Not only despicable but sadistic.You don’t have to be armed if you’re black in order to frighten the police into shooting. Imagine what happens if you are armed and some podunk cop catches sight of a gun. Carrying a weapon is a serious consideration if you’re black. It’s not cosplay fantasy for jumbo-sized losers.

  52. rodney dill says:

    @Mikey: Agreed.

  53. Jack says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Roof thought what he was doing was “self-defense.” Read his words.

    That is not a legitimate self defense claim. That is a crazy self defense claim. That’s like someone saying the NSA is trying to control him through his TV, so therefore he goes and kills a bunch of employees that work for the NSA.

    Also, there is a difference between the “NRA” and a single NRA Board member. Additionally, his statement is that “Pickney supported tougher gun regulations and opposed a bill that would have allowed people to carry concealed guns in churches”. That is straight up truth. Pickney did oppose that bill. That is a truthful statement. That is a far cry from blaming a person for his/her own death.

  54. Jack says:

    @grumpy realist:

    people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.

    You make that sound like it’s new information. Criminals have no problem getting their hands on guns. Additional laws making it harder for the rest of us will have no affect on criminals. People in Africa kill with machetes…hundreds of thousands. People intent on killing will find a way to do it.

  55. Paul L. says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Then you aren’t paying attention to Republucan rhetoric.

    Time for progressives to push and call for fake civility to silence their opponents.

    Now that Dylann Roof Is A Terrorist, it is time for the DOJ to crack down on his support network which is listed on the SPLC hate list minus the Black separatists.

  56. DrDaveT says:

    @Jack:

    If even one parishioner at the church had a gun and the willingness to defend him/herself and others, this would be a different story today.

    It certainly would. There would be a couple dozen people dead instead of 9, with perhaps several of them shot by the self-defending victim accidentally. The criminal would be dead, so we would learn a lot less about what happened.

    Your notion that an active firefight inside a crowded church is a better outcome than 9 murders inside a crowded church is… bizarre.

  57. Jack says:

    @MikeSJ:

    Most places – work, school, malls, restaurants – are free of guns. This isn’t the Wild West. Other than law enforcement 99% of the population isn’t carrying their gat with them.

    No. There is a difference between a gun free zone and a place free of guns (in your opinion). Most work places are not, in fact, free of guns. Malls are definitely not free of guns (I go to the mall with my wife). Restaurants are not free of guns (I go to restaurants often). Home Depot, Lowes, Best Buy, Barber Shop, Dry Cleaners, 7-11, Fast Food, Parks, theaters, etc. are all authorized gun zones in most states.

    Of your list, only schools are designated gun free zones. And yet Newtown still happened. Something tells me criminals don’t seem to care what the law says.

  58. Jack says:

    @DrDaveT: @DrDaveT:

    Or it could have turned out like this.

    http://www.gunwatch.blogspot.com/2015/06/ga-open-carrier-stops-mass-killing.html

    You presume that people who carry guns don’t know how to aim, haven’t practiced, or go all jelly. I think you are projecting your own shortcomings.

  59. Mikey says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Imagine what happens if you are armed and some podunk cop catches sight of a gun.

    It doesn’t even have to be a real gun.

  60. ernieyeball says:

    Let’s see what other right thinking commenters on other sites have to say about this.

    …mass shootings are the price we pay for freedom. They’ll happen as long as we have 2A rights, there’s always someone crazy out there. But no politician will ever have the balls to say it…

    Sounds Reasonable to me. Can’t figure out why Dandy Randy Paul won’t take the lead on this.
    https://reason.com/blog/2015/06/18/rand-paul-mass-shootings-symbolize-a-sic#comment

  61. grumpy realist says:

    @Jack: And you think that when the police arrive on the scene they’re going to try to make a distinction between the goodies and the baddies?

    Hell, they’ll shoot at anyone with a gun, period. Even more likely if you have dark skin.

  62. Jack says:

    @grumpy realist: Like they did this guy? Oh, yeah. They shook his hand and thanked him.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6aVw-BNpXM

    Again, you are projecting about a subject of which you have little or no experience beyond what you have seen on TV.

  63. Rick DeMent says:

    Thinking about this a little more, while I wouldn’t consider this terrorism per se, there is no doubt that this guys actions have terrorized Black Americans. If your definition is anything that will terrorize a definable group is terrorism then I could go along with that definition very easily. This might also exclude the term from being used on the Fort Hood guys since his actions really didn’t terrorize Americans strictly speaking. If that was his intention he failed.

  64. Tillman says:

    rodney dill:

    I’m not arguing strongly, (or at all), that it shouldn’t be called terrorism, its just not the word that comes to mind for me.

    That’s the idea behind calling this terrorism, I think. You’re predisposed to think that bona fide terrorism requires an organization with a goal that indoctrinates its actors. Just as a matter of definition, people put up to it by others close to them (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev) or having mental problems (Jared Loughner) wouldn’t qualify as terrorists.

    The question becomes whether Dylann Roof is more like Tsarnaev and Loughner, or resembles Breivik and McVeigh more.

    I’d also add premeditation is an important part of whether something counts as terrorism, and it has been reported that Roof was planning this for half a year at most.

  65. Tillman says:

    @Jack: And you’re pretending a single example refutes an inductive argument not based on absolutes but statistics.

  66. James Joyner says:

    @Mikey:

    Both are terrorists because they killed to advance their chosen cause, and whether they coordinated with others or did it sua sponte is irrelevant.

    It’s pretty relevant. People who kill because “God told me to” aren’t terrorists; they’re lunatics. Ditto people who kill because they can’t get laid and all women are therefore whores. Or because school officials and/or their classmates were mean to them. I don’t see how hating black people is any more of a cause than those others. It’s only meaningfully “terrorism” if part of a serial plan (like the DC sniper attacks) or directly an attack on government (such as the OKC bombing).

    @cian: Yeah, I saw Jon Stewart too. It’s a sad state of affairs and I can certainly understand why blacks in Charleston would feel terrorized. But this was a one-off attack by a guy who’s never going to see the light of day again and who apparently has no one on the outside the continue the campaign. To me, that makes it mass murder vice terrorism.

  67. Scott says:

    Somehow a well armed population at a restaurant in Waco did not seem to keep the peace.

  68. Mikey says:

    @James Joyner: Insane people are just insane. Jared Loughner even professed some confused political motivation, but I think we can agree he wasn’t a terrorist, he was just nuts.

    Dylann Roof is different–according to several news stories I’ve seen, he has told investigators he killed the people in the church with the specific objective of starting a race war. Looking at the FBI definition of domestic terrorism @Timothy Watson helpfully posted, that seems a pretty easy match for condition 1, “to intimidate or coerce a civilian population,” in this case African-Americans. He wasn’t just going after the people at school who mistreated him, he was meaning to affect an entire population of people by inspiring others to attack them as well.

    But, as I said to Rodney Dill, our disagreement is probably as much due to the nebulous definition of “terrorism” as anything. Sometimes it just seems to be “I’ll know it when I see it.”

  69. ernieyeball says:

    @Tillman:..@Jack: And you’re pretending a single example refutes an inductive argument not based on absolutes but statistics.

    Isn’t this just a nice way to say he is a Dumb Fvck?

  70. michael reynolds says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I don’t believe people’s accounts of their own motives. People are very poor judges of their own behavior.

    In the US 81% of the population is urban. That’s very close to being the number for France, where somehow people get along without needing handguns or semi-auto military-style weapons with extended clips. A Frenchman will have a shotgun for rabbits. We are significantly less rural than Ireland or Poland where they again do not amass arsenals.

    People who say “personal protection” are lying. They aren’t intending to lie, but they’ve basically talked themselves into it. They’ve rationalized, which is a variety of lie. I seriously doubt that half a percent of the American population has a legitimate need to protect themselves by putting a firearm in their home, with their children.

    It’s not for hunting, it’s not for legitimate self-defense, it may be tradition, but virtually all gun purchases are irrational, driven by emotion, driven by paranoia, driven by insecurity and weakness. They are reckless purchases often leading to a type of addiction far more dangerous than heroin since needles seldom go off in the hands of a curious five year-old.

    In days gone by we’d feed our young males into creating colonial empires or fighting wars, or keep them fully occupied in industrial or farming jobs that left little time and few resources for acquiring guns. Now we have a vast number of young males with no male-specific function, almost all in need of something, anything, that will make them feel important and powerful and aggressive. Males tend to be hierarchical and want a place within a male power structure. It’s what makes so fwcking dangerous, and it’s why we should not have guns.

  71. rodney dill says:

    @Tillman: I largely agree with your comments, but I would consider Dzhokhar Tsarnaev more as an act of terrorism because of his being (put up to it, programmed, or indoctrinated by others). The collusion of others pre-attack would be part of the terrorist act due to the conspiratorial nature of it. The fact that he may be an unwitting tool in the plan wouldn’t matter, overall to me that make the Tsarnaev affair more terrorism.

    Similiarly if others are later implicated in the Roof shooting, I would more likely see that as terrorism as well.

  72. ernieyeball says:

    But this was a one-off attack by a guy who’s never going to see the light of day again and who apparently has no one on the outside the continue the campaign.

    This does not give me any comfort that mass shootings of innocent citizens will stop now.

  73. Jack says:

    @Scott:

    Somehow a well armed population at a restaurant in Waco did not seem to keep the peace.

    Considering the police were doing all the shooting…

  74. gVOR08 says:

    Just for spits and giggles, I’m going to go all meta here. I @gVOR08: cited the Wiktionary definition of “terrorist”. @Timothy Watson: cited the FBI definition of “domestic terrorism”.
    – Was Roof’s action “dangerous to human life”? Yes.
    – Was it intended to “intimidate or coerce a civilian population”? Apparently by his own statements it was intended to start a race war. I think that counts as “coerce”. And as I noted, a stupid intention is still an intention. So yes.
    – Did it occur within the jurisdiction of the U. S? Yes.

    I also noted that the answer to ‘Is he crazy or a terrorist” is Yes. There is no contradiction in being both. And yes, the Ft Hood guy also fits. But there may be legal or bureaucratic reasons for not labeling him so.

    Yet we’re still arguing about whether it should be called “terrorism”. We are not arguing about whether it is, we are really arguing about whether the definition of terrorism should be something other than it is.

    As a well trained mechanical engineer with absolutely no grounding in semantics, linguistics, or cognitive theory, I have a theory, which you may take for whatever it’s worth. People, conservatives more so, but people generally, have some difficulty distinguishing between symbols and the things the symbols represent. Hence the horror over flag burning, a symbol of the country confused with burning the actual country.

    Further, people do not make logical connections between either the symbols or the things. They load them up with baggage, connections to other symbols, things and emotions. Then they make emotional connections between the baggage. This is how conservatives can, with a straight face, say cutting taxes lowers the deficit. Cutting taxes = good. Low deficit = good. Two things equal to the same thing are the same. Therefore cutting taxes = lower deficit. I swear they unconsciously do that. I had a long argument with a conservative friend who insisted George Washington was a natural born citizen. With his fuzzy definitions of America, Washington, and Citizenship it made perfect sense.

    We have a picture of terrorists as swarthy Muslims who are part of some scary organization. Roof doesn’t fit, so we’re trying to force the square peg of the definition of “terrorist” into a round hole.

    This is why people, again more so conservatives, have problems with Jenner and the lady in Spokane. “Female” and “Black” have meanings to them and it’s disturbing to have square pegs that don’t fit their round holes.

    Sorry for philosophizing, and I doubt mine is a unique insight. I’d appreciate a point from anyone with relevant expertise toward a better formulated version.

  75. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s pretty relevant. People who kill because “God told me to” aren’t terrorists; they’re lunatics. Ditto people who kill because they can’t get laid and all women are therefore whores.

    So under this standard, most everyone in al Qaeda isn’t a terrorist….

  76. grumpy realist says:

    I do wish that because of this all blacks in Charleston armed themselves with rifles and carried them around openly no matter where they went.

    I bet we’d see a U-turn from the gun nuts so quickly sparks would fly off the pavement.

  77. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist: We’ve done this experiment. St. Ronald of Bel Air signed restrictive gun laws in CA right after the Black Panthers started open carrying.

  78. michael reynolds says:

    Conservatives don’t want to call it terrorism because if they do then Colt, Glock, Armalite and the retailers like Wal-Mart are arming terrorists. The profits of gun manufacturers and retailers are absolutely paramount to the NRA which is nothing but the lobbying arm of gun profiteers.

    If white gun nuts murdering black people is terrorism, then we have to looking for the root cause, and for those who aid and support that terrorism, and for those who provide the ideological rationale for racist terror. And since the answer is, “conservatives” guess what? Conservatives reject the label of terrorism despite the blazingly obvious fact that it perfectly fits the definition of terrorism.

    James Joyner rejects the terror label not from any rational grounds that I can see, but because if he accepts the terror label then he’s spending a lot of time in the company of terror supporters, people who are to white terrorism what Saudi clerics are to Islamic terror. It undercuts the moral basis of conservative ideology regarding guns, regarding public health, regarding race, and regarding our foreign policy reactions to foreign terror.

    Yes, obviously this is terrorism. Obviously. But once again facts are getting in the way of the right-wing’s self-pity and hate machine, so to hell with reality, the right will take fantasy instead. And the next time some guy named Muhammed kills half the number that this white terrorist did, conservatives will be pounding their chests, demanding walls be built and screaming for war.

  79. Pete S says:

    @michael reynolds:

    don’t want to call it terrorism because if they do then Colt, Glock, Armalite and the retailers like Wal-Mart are arming terrorists. The profits of gun manufacturers and retailers are absolutely paramount to the NRA which is nothing but the lobbying arm of gun profiteers.

    Yes, this. Had he set a bomb off at the church which killed 2 or 3 people we would not be having a discussion about whether or not this is terrorism. We would just accept it.

  80. rodney dill says:

    @michael reynolds: I think you need a Snickers bar.

  81. Jack says:

    @Tillman:

    And you’re pretending a single example refutes an inductive argument not based on absolutes but statistics.

    Based upon the above, we should consider all police to be a criminal gang intent on killing anyone that does not bow down and lick their feet.

    Yes, I can provide examples of good cops, but statistically speaking, I can find more examples of bad cops. So based upon that and that alone, therefore all cops are bad.

    What you refuse to understand, are examples of good cops and good gun owners are not often reported and therefore we lack a good sample for statistical comparisons. But because if it bleeds it leads, there are a multitude of examples of bad cops and bad gun owners.

    However, the statistical comparison should be: Every single day 100 million gun owners did NOT shoot up a church, or a school, or a mall.

  82. Jack says:

    @Pete S:

    Had he set a bomb off at the church which killed 2 or 3 people we would not be having a discussion about whether or not this is terrorism.

    Had he set off a bomb, we would not be having a discussion about blaming Home Depot or Ace Hardware for selling him the ingredients either.

  83. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    Every single day 100 million gun owners did NOT shoot up a church, or a school, or a mall.

    Every single day cigarettes did not kill hundreds of millions. But they did kill millions. We just outlawed trans-fats but they kill only a small proportion of the people who eat them. We labor ceaselessly to reduce the harm done by diseases that only kill some people, not all.

    You do not need a gun, Jack, except to mask your own insecurities. But of course it doesn’t work, as you show us again and again in every comment you make. You’re the classic immature male in desperate search of validation.

  84. rodney dill says:

    @Pete S:

    …we would not be having a discussion about whether or not this is terrorism. We would just accept it.

    I wouldn’t count on it. This is a pretty disagreeable collection of people.

  85. grumpy realist says:

    @ernieyeball: Indeed, we’re already starting to see copycat attempts (luckily no one was hurt.)

    What shoves Roof’s activity over into terrorism for me is that he decided to carry out this action in a famous African-American church with a very strong link to history. He’s trying to be symbolic.

  86. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You do not need a gun, Jack, except to mask your own insecurities. But of course it doesn’t work, as you show us again and again in every comment you make. You’re the classic immature male in desperate search of validation.

    There’s the elitist libtard we have grown to know and love. Yes, you know better than poor old me what is good or not good for my life. It doesn’t matter that you want, nay intend to limit my personal freedom because you think something is better for me. As long as you are my better, I should simply roll over and let it happen.

    I bet you tell that to rape victims too.

  87. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jack:

    Every single day 100 million gun owners did NOT shoot up a church, or a school, or a mall.

    And what about all the tens of millions of Nazis who DIDN’T run a concentration camp…?

  88. michael reynolds says:

    @rodney dill:

    I largely agree with your comments, but I would consider Dzhokhar Tsarnaev more as an act of terrorism because of his being (put up to it, programmed, or indoctrinated by others).

    What blind nonsense. No one taught Roof to hate black people? No one taught him to see whites as an endangered species? Bull. You’re rationalizing and then wandering into random snark and insults because you can’t handle reality.

    You want to find the ideological wellspring of Roof’s murderous racism? Turn on Limbaugh. Watch Hannity. Read World News Daily. Listen to Republicans in the House. I’m sure the looney mullahs and imams are equally blind to the effects of their ideology.

    Racism is being stoked by the GOP for political advantage. People like you and James who may be completely lacking in racist motives, nevertheless act as apologists for a party that deliberately stirs up race hatred for political advantage. And then you make sure that every idiot young male, every hater you’ve inspired, is armed to the teeth.

    When you take amped-up young men, feed them on a diet of hate and paranoia, and then give them guns, this is what happens. Rather than hiding behind vacuous snark, why don’t you man up and face the consequences of your beliefs.

  89. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jack:

    As long as you are my better, I should simply roll over and let it happen.

    Nope, no classic immature male riven by insecurities there.

  90. aFloridian says:

    Too many comments for me to read them all right now, but dude is most def a terrorist.

    That said, while I understand the revulsion people have with calling a man like this “mentally ill” I still believe it must be so, but not necessarily to an extent that reduces culpability or in any way excuses his horrendous act.

    In other words, I’m not sure you can commit an act like this and there NOT be something wrong with you mentally, virtually by definition. Ok, so you want to say “he’s just evil” – hell, maybe that’s just another word for mental illness.

    The evidence weighing against the mentally ill conclusion here is that he showed some self-preservation – he was chillingly calculated during its perpetuation, and was trying to get away, apparently. Again, on the other hand, we have seen hateful racial terrorist attacks plenty before, and I would tend to think the “sane but evil” attacks, like in Birmingham, or Eric Rupolph-types, etc. go about it differently, in that they choose tactics that allow them to remain free longer and further the “cause.”

    That said, this is definitely terrorism. Really, so were the attacks in Newtown, Aurora, etc. Mentally ill or not, these attacks were designed to inflict indiscriminate terror and death in suburban America.

    Why the mentally ill card? Is the distinction the measure of outside influence? After all, Islamic suicidal killers are arguably not mentally ill, but rather under the influence of their religion and its martyrdom provisions, which I do not doubt some of you would argue is a mental illness in and of itself. I am curious to see how strong Roof’s ties to the white supremacy community are – I still say that if this was driven primarily by ideology, he would have chosen different tactics. Instead I wonder if Roof was not a mentally ill outcast who latched on to anti-black racism, maybe as a result of his upbringing or, heck, maybe even watching the riots on TV was enough to push him over the edge to action, and embraced this ideology only as a result. Then again the same scenario might hold true for ISIS recruits, it’s not clear nor necessarily consistent.

    In the end, this is terrorism. And worse yet, the racial aspect can’t be ignored. If there is such a thing as “hate crimes” then this is one. Semantics aside, there IS such a thing as racially-motivated crime, of which, whatever the influences, this was most certainly an example. You don’t pick a distinguished, large, black charge at a random, especially as a 21 year-old white kid with a fondness for Old Rhodesia.

  91. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    So. . . you’re expecting to be raped?

  92. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    He’s so clueless he of course has no idea he just validated exactly what I’d said about him. Self-awareness is not a big thing with gun nuts.

  93. Jack says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    And what about all the tens of millions of Nazis who DIDN’T run a concentration camp…?

    So now you are comparing all gun owners to Nazis??? You have really gone off the deep end. Please stay away from all guns, and sharp knives, and bats, and cars.

    Just to be safe, call now for a 72-hour mental evaluation.

  94. wr says:

    @James Joyner: ” People who kill because “God told me to” aren’t terrorists; they’re lunatics.”

    Seriously? Because you’ve just declared that the 9/11 hijackers weren’t terrorists but lunatics.

  95. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds:

    So. . . you’re expecting to be raped?

    Under a government that makes decisions based upon your ideological positions, yes.

  96. mantis says:

    @Jack:

    However, the statistical comparison should be: Every single day 100 million gun owners did NOT shoot up a church, or a school, or a mall.

    Every day, a legally purchased gun is used to kill a woman by an intimate acquaintance. Every day, a legally purchased gun is sold to criminals or lost/stolen and ends up in the hands of criminals. Nearly every day, a legally purchased gun kills a child.

    Mass shootings are rare, at least compared to the constant body count you legal gun owners subject the rest of us to. You are the terrorists. You want everyone else to live in fear of your freedom to kill us whenever you please.

  97. wr says:

    @Jack: “It doesn’t matter that you want, nay intend to limit my personal freedom because you think something is better for me. ”

    Once again, you prove yourself incapable of understanding the simplest concepts.

    I won’t speak for Michael, but I personally want to limit what you pathetically call your “personal freedom” (apparently because you are so impotent in your life that only owning a lethal weapon makes you feel in control) not “for your own good” but because I think it’s better for everyone around you. Frankly if I thought that gun-humpers were only going to hurt themselves, I’d buy the next round of ammo. But I don’t want pathetic little losers proving their masculinity to the world by killing others.

  98. rodney dill says:

    @michael reynolds: What are you even talking about? I’ve stated nothing about Roof’s motives as racist or not. (…and I think they are racist). This thread, other than the normal divergence that occurs, has been about using the label terrorism or not.

    Your rants, allusions, and insinuations make you sound more like Jack, James P, or superdestroyer, (other than coming from the opposite side of the political spectrum) than someone rational.

    That’s why I suggested the Snickers.

  99. al-Ameda says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    The word terrorism has become somewhat meaningless since 911.

    I could not agree more.

    One thing is certain, the Right definitely wants to move any discussion concerning Dylann Roof and his murders away from racism, and toward terrorism or “war on Christianity.”

  100. Jack says:

    @mantis:

    Mass shootings are rare, at least compared to the constant body count you legal gun owners subject the rest of us to. You are the terrorists. You want everyone else to live in fear of your freedom to kill us whenever you please.

    Legal gun owners are not amassing a body count, cupcake. In fact, in a direct comparison to Police (you know, the people you believe are the only ones qualified to own and handle a gun) to Concealed Carry holders, “…police appear to be three times as likely to commit murder as a concealed carry permit holder.”

    http://www.ammoland.com/2013/10/police-officers-likely-to-murder-than-concealed-carry-permit/

    That’s just the homicide comparison. A police officer is more than 300 times as likely to commit a crime.

    So yeah. You keep blaming the legal gun owners.

  101. teve tory says:

    there’s definitely an IQ test operating here. Not understanding that this was terrorism tells me exactly how many future comments by a person I need to read.

  102. Jack says:

    @wr: A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotions maturity.” Sigmund Freud.

  103. C. Clavin says:

    Let’s just note that Jack is wrong about everything, is unable to ever admit it, and then proceed from there. Case in point:
    https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/nine-dead-in-shooting-at-african-american-church-in-charleston-south-carolina/#comment-2020842
    I mean…Jack couldn’t even get the State Senators party affiliation right.
    There is no point in continuing to feed this troll.

  104. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: Says the man with a lifetime supply of Purina.

  105. Mikey says:
  106. al-Ameda says:

    @Jack:

    You’ll notice that this was yet another gun free zone–like Aurora, like Newtown, like Virginia Tech. I’m sure there were plenty of locations he could have sought out where there were dense minority populations that would not be so disarmed, but instead he went to a church where he knew he would find helpless victims and would likely succeed in his murderous plot.

    Exactly, why would anybody think that churches should be gun-free zones?

    I’ve often wondered why, back in 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, church officials at the 16th Street Baptist Church, didn’t have their congregation members wear Kevlar or carry shielding devices, perhaps lives would have been saved from that bombing?

  107. C. Clavin says:

    @Mikey:
    I told you…he gets absolutely everything wrong.
    Stop feeding the troll.

  108. Jack says:

    @Mikey: From your own link.

    In these other passages Freud associates retarded sexual and emotional development not with gun ownership, but with “fear and loathing of weapons”.

    That description fits wr .

  109. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    @grumpy realist:

    and supposedly drove two hours to get to the church…

  110. mantis says:

    @Jack:

    Legal gun owners are not amassing a body count, cupcake.

    Yes, you are. Legally owned guns kill dozens of children each year because of their careless owners. Legal gun owners murder many hundreds of wives and girlfriends each year (and a few husbands and boyfriends, but it’s about 95/5 perpetrated by men). And the majority of illegally owned guns are acquired by theft from irresponsible but legal gun owners. Gun crimes committed by illegally owned guns only happen because of lax gun laws and stupid legal gun owners. Even when they aren’t committing the crimes themselves, they are enabling them.

    In fact, in a direct comparison to Police (you know, the people you believe are the only ones qualified to own and handle a gun) to Concealed Carry holders, “…police appear to be three times as likely to commit murder as a concealed carry permit holder.”

    Police are also legal gun owners. This does not dispute my point, and I’m certainly not here to defend the behavior of police. We would have no need, perceived or otherwise, for police forces armed to the teeth if the populace were not similarly armed and careless.

  111. Scott says:

    @Jack:

    Considering the police were doing all the shooting…

    From what has been reported so far:

    There were 9 dead and 18 wounded.

    Police shot 12 rounds.

  112. michael reynolds says:

    @rodney dill:

    And yet you offer no rebuttal.

  113. michael reynolds says:

    @al-Ameda:

    We should all live in fear, travel in armored Humvees and wear Kevlar underwear because if Jack doesn’t have enough guns his dick falls off. It makes perfect sense.

  114. grumpy realist says:

    @Jack: Um, considering the number of cases where either a law-abiding individual (at least up to then) goes nuts and shoots people, or carelessly leaves the gun where a toddler can get it and shoot someone, I think your side has a distressingly large body count for a group of people who can supposedly be trusted with guns….

  115. Nikki says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    It’s quite possible to be a [snip] non-racist white supremacist…

    No, it’s not.

  116. Pete S says:

    However, the statistical comparison should be: Every single day 100 million gun owners did NOT shoot up a church, or a school, or a mall.

    Actually, the relevant questions are:

    1. How many people were shot by someone with a gun yesterday, whether they owned it or not?
    2. How many people were shot by someone who didn’t have a gun yesterday?

    “Only one person in my group committed mass murder yesterday” is not really good enough.

  117. James Joyner says:

    @Mikey: I suppose that, in addition to the fact that he was acting alone, I’m simply unimpressed with the spree as a terror plot. It was a horrific crime but there’s no plausible way that a “race war” was going to ensue.

    @ernieyeball: Well, no. But that’s exactly my point: we have all manner of these horrible crimes, far too often to even keep easy track of. Almost none of them are “terrorism,” though.

    @Rafer Janders: AQ is a terrorist group because it’s organized, system, and aimed toward a clear political objective. Its members engage in acts of terrorism, at least ostensibly in support of that ideology. That most of them probably have other driving forces doesn’t make them not members of a terrorist group.

  118. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    People who kill because “God told me to” aren’t terrorists; they’re lunatics. Ditto people who kill because they can’t get laid and all women are therefore whores.

    I think you’re making a confusion of type, James. Terrorism is not a motive; it’s a tactic.

    It’s a sad state of affairs and I can certainly understand why blacks in Charleston would feel terrorized. But this was a one-off attack by a guy who’s never going to see the light of day again

    Why do you think that matters, any more than it matters that the 9/11 pilots aren’t going to do it again either? There are plenty more where Dylann came from, driven by the same social processes — which is why it’s disingenuous to ask whether he was part of some organization or movement. When ISIS inspires some suburban kid in Kansas to blow up a mall for Allah, nobody says it wasn’t terrorism just because this kid had never met or communicated with an actual ISIS member. White supremacists are quite a bit thicker on the ground than ISIS members, and their worldview is disseminated to many more people.

  119. wr says:

    @Jack: I’m not afraid of weapons. I’m afraid of impotent losers who are so desperate to prove their pathetic lives have some impact on the world that they carry around lethal weapons wherever they go to prove that the could make some kind of difference if they chose to.

  120. C. Clavin says:

    @grumpy realist:
    The majority of gun deaths are suicides. One can assume many of those are by legal owners.

  121. DrDaveT says:

    @Jack:

    Or it could have turned out like this.

    Yes, it could have. But the odds are against it.

    I don’t object to self-defense in principle, but I put actual outcomes ahead of wishful thinking when weighing policies. More innocent people die under the system you advocate than under the systems the rest of the first world uses. I don’t value occasional righteous ironic justice enough to look away from those extra lost lives. I don’t value your (or my) rugged individual autonomy enough to kill innocent people by implementing the system that enables it to be exercised.

  122. C. Clavin says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Guns are rarely used to kill criminals or stop crimes.

    In 2012, across the nation there were only 259 justifiable homicides1
    involving a private citizen using a firearm reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s
    Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program as detailed in its Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR). That same year, there were 8,342 criminal gun homicides tallied
    in the SHR. In 2012, for every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 32 criminal homicides. And this ratio, of course, does not take into
    account the tens of thousands of lives ended in gun suicides or unintentional shootings that year.

    http://www.vpc.org/studies/justifiable15.pdf

  123. Monala says:
  124. T says:

    @wr:

    they carry around lethal weapons wherever they go

    i have 2 on me at all times.

    the left. and the right.

  125. michael reynolds says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Sure, but those are just numbers, whereas Jack’s fear of being raped is visceral. Mere numbers can’t give a weak man courage, Clavin. A weak man needs a big gun if he’s going to have the courage to face the frequent gangs of gay rapists chasing after rednecks.

  126. Mu says:

    @Scott: He’s referring to this article most likely:
    http://reason.com/blog/2015/06/18/what-really-happened-in-the-waco-motorcy
    stating that at least 6 out of 9 dead were killed by police. It’s reason.com, so take it with the usual grain of salt.

  127. Mikey says:

    @James Joyner:

    I suppose that, in addition to the fact that he was acting alone, I’m simply unimpressed with the spree as a terror plot. It was a horrific crime but there’s no plausible way that a “race war” was going to ensue.

    We prosecute people for engaging in terror plots that would clearly never have gone anywhere at all, let alone kill anyone. Most of these guys aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer–hell, some of them aren’t even in the kitchen–but incompetence or unrealistic objectives don’t mean it’s not terrorism. Roof has a cause and he was operating in service to it when he targeted African-Americans worshiping in a church that has great symbolism in the history of American race relations.

  128. Mikey says:

    @Jack: You presented it as Freud’s words, which he did not say. Bringing in Don Kates’ misinterpretation of what Freud actually wrote doesn’t help.

  129. Scott says:

    @Mu: I read that article also. Most of the comments were by the biker’s attorneys which you have to take with a barrel of salt.

    BTW, even 6 of 9 is not all

  130. michael reynolds says:

    @Monala:

    That is a brilliant piece, thanks for the link.

    There is a fundamental disconnect in the way people think about men (especially young men) and violence. We know from a million testimonials that soldiers almost never fight for abstractions like patriotism or ideology, but rather fight for the good opinion of the soldier beside them. No one really disputes this.

    But at the same time we want to treat every enemy soldier as a fanatic driven by beliefs. And we bloviate endlessly about the abstract motivations we impute to our soldiers in complete negation of what we know from the soldiers’ own mouths.

    Men kill because a million years of human evolution have given the advantage to men who can kill. Dead men don’t procreate so well. Successful warriors do.

    Unfortunately that evolutionary advantage was stomped into the mud in 1914. Mechanized modern warfare does not single out the best warriors for survival. Machine gun bullets don’t care about courage and the manly virtues. In fact the brave ones who were the first over the top just died. It was the more cautious and cunning and even cowardly who lived to write the poems and fill the speakeasys.

    Pretty soon all our military killing will be done by machines. The value of the old “masculine” virtues as expressed in war is declining rapidly, along with the importance of physical strength. A subliminal awareness of this is part of what motivates the barbarian counter-attack from Al Qaeda, ISIS, racist survivalists, etc…

  131. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: If we really want to stop ISIS and Al Qaeda, we’ll stop using our drones to drop bombs and start using them to drop porn. You get these fanatical young guys across the Middle East in good measure because their bodies are raging with hormones and they’ve got no peaceful outlet for their drives, as they’re forbidden to even look at women.

    Get them dirty movies. Hell, recruit armies of strippers and prostitutes who are looking for patriotic ways to make a living. We can’t kill the jihad out of these guys, but we can probably fvck it out of them.

  132. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    We can’t compete with ISIS propaganda because with our degree of transparency we’d end up in hearings with some redneck cretin of a Congressman demanding to know “Whah are we droppin’ titty pictures on A-rabs?”

    We have the world’s greatest factory for producing emotionally manipulative products (Hollywood) and the second greatest factory as well (Madison Avenue) and the third (New York Publishing) and we are helpless to deploy effective propaganda. It’s bizarre. If we pulled something like placing an ISIS-themed fashion layout in Vogue using effeminate men as the models, for example, Congress and the media would explode.

    We own propaganda. We are 20 years ahead of Europe, 50 years ahead of China and about a millennium ahead of the Middle East, and we are rendered helpless, largely by our own puritanism.

  133. grumpy realist says:

    But according to at least one Presidential candidate, it’s a drug problem, not a gun problem.

    Dude, when someone drives 2 hours to a church, sits there for one hour, then shoots 9 people multiple times, that’s not an “accident.” “Accident” is when you trip over the cat and grab the gun to steady yourself and set it off.

  134. de stijl says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Evelle: Gale? Um, Junior just had a – an accident.

    Gale: What’s that, pardner?

    Evelle: He had hisself a little ol’ accident.

    Gale: What do you mean? He looks okay.

    Evelle: No. You see, moving though we are, he just went and had hisself a little ol’ rest stop.

    Gale: [sniffs the air] Well, that’s natural.

  135. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Conservatives don’t want to call it terrorism because if they do then Colt, Glock, Armalite and the retailers like Wal-Mart are arming terrorists. The profits of gun manufacturers and retailers are absolutely paramount to the NRA which is nothing but the lobbying arm of gun profiteers.

    This is certainly one major reason why conservatives want to deny that the act is terrorism. People might ask why we aren’t regulating the weapon Roof used the way we regulate “terrorist” weapons like bombs. After all, the reason the Boston bombers resorted to their home cooked bombs is because they couldn’t walk into a Walmart, and after a cursory background check, load up a shopping cart with C-4 and other modern explosives. They would have been able to do much more damage in that case. But because explosives aren’t guns, they are subjected to the kind of sane regulation that we don’t do with the “Jesus weapon” and thus the Tsarnaevs killed fewer people than Roof.
    Another reason is that conservatives would also have to admit that white supremacy is an actual ideology and that in the past it has been frequently enforced by white terrorism against blacks, often with state support. Conservatives, like Justice Roberts , want to downplay the idea of white supremacy as an actual ideology that continues to the very day and is one of the wellsprings of Republican support.

    The result? Conservatives hem and haw, elide, and deflect. Roof’s murders aren’t “really” terrorism , and his plan to initiate “race war” wasn’t really a terrorist plot. All that happened here was a “nice, normal kid who “somehow” went wrong and misused his birthday present. No mention need be made of the fact that right wing talk radio and Fox News every day stoke the racist conspiracy theories that led him to his act, and that if you read Hot Air and Free Republic you really would think that blacks and browns are taking ( or have taken over ) the country and are systematically oppressing whites.

  136. de stijl says:

    I am not a religious person. When I was about 10 or so I figured out that religion was just a bigger version of the Santa Claus story. Only it wasn’t just the kids being fooled, but the adults as well.

    So the concept of “Original Sin” is alien to me. Not only alien, but a little repulsive. You can damn an entire species to eternal torment because a talking snake convinced a naive women, who was purpose built specifically to be naive, to eat a piece of fruit that gives her knowledge; knowledge, yes, but also fiber and essential nutrients. This knowledge destroyed Eden and forced their banishment. The only way back out of the pit is to accept this moon-eyed hippie type guy, who can apparently only communicate through parables, as your personal shopper. That, and 10% of your income.

    It’s a silly story to my ear, but I can get the underlying concept. That an action can cause generations-long consequences. Something that our ancestors did centuries ago can affect us today.

    If slavery was America’s Original Sin, then maybe the Second Amendment is America’s other Original Sin.

    Writing it down somehow called Moloch to our shores, and now that he is awake, he will periodically demand the blood sacrifice.

  137. Dave D says:

    There doesn’t seem to be a lot of differences between this shooting and the shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek. Although the media coverage seems different because it caused a debate over terminology. Is it because in Milwaukee the police immediately called it domestic terrorism since they killed the white supremacist and couldn’t wait around until he had been interviewed? In both an avowed racist went to a place of worship and shot up a group of people that were others. One was immediately termed as domestic terrorism the other not.

  138. de stijl says:

    I disagree with the idea we could fix ISIS by pr0n-bombing them or sending in patriotically-minded strippers.

    Meaningless sex won’t fix the problem. Meaningless sex is axiomatically meaningless. It may take the edge off the potent chemical cocktail surging through their blood for an hour or two, but it’s a short-term band-aid at best. Young men are idiots (I was one). They are complexly simple creatures. Chock full of hormones and crippled by insecurities and pride and vulnerabilities.

    Meaningless sex does not civilize young men, but pair bonding does. Good, old-fashioned romantic love. It makes us clean up our apartments and bathe regularly and police up our unruly hair growth and buy expensive candles and not kill people. It makes us adult men.

    If every ISIS member had a live-in girlfriend or boyfriend, they would be as scary as AARP members.

  139. de stijl says:

    @Dave D:

    You’re totally correct, the Sikh Temple shootings is the best comparable event.

  140. anjin-san says:

    @Jack:

    That is a crazy self defense claim.

    Sort of like yours, which boils down to – I must carry a gun to be safe if I go out to buy an ice cream cone…

  141. gVOR08 says:

    @de stijl: Apparently Patrick Henry demanded the 2nd Amendment to ensure the Feds wouldn’t shut down the VA slave patrols. So the second original sin flows directly from the first.

  142. Onward Christian Soldiers says:

    I don’t disagree with the categorization of Roof as a terrorist.

    However, it’s rich coming from the corrupt Soetoro regime.

    He wouldn’t call Ft. Hood terrorism. He wouldn’t call the guy who shot up the Family Research Council HQ a terrorist.

    Why is Roof a terrorist but they aren’t?

    I’m willing to be consistent. If one is a terrorist, all are terrorists. If some aren’t terrorist, none are.

    They are either all terrorists or none of them are. I’ll go with all of them. I’m waiting for the Soetoro regime to call Ft. Hood and the FRC incidents terrorism.

  143. DrDaveT says:

    @Onward Christian Soldiers:

    the corrupt Soetoro regime

    Awesome. You can’t make this stuff up, and The Onion pales in comparison…

  144. ernieyeball says:

    @Jack:..Every single day 100 million gun owners yada yada yada…

    With a population of over 300m that leaves 200 million unarmed citizens. What the hell are you all so afraid of, each other???

  145. Troke6 says:
  146. Troke6 says:

    Let’s see, we got folks in high places saying them Jihadi terrorists are not terrorists, but common criminals and should be treated as such. Now we got a genuine common criminal and guess what? Terrorist.

    Anything to keep the Lesser Classes confused. Orwell would be pleased.