The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal responded to Dylann Roof's racially motivated massacre in Charleston by declaring that systemic racism no longer exists in the South, and that Roof's actions were motivated not by racism -- How could they have been if it doesn't exist? -- but by some "problem that defies explanation beyond the reality that evil still stalks humanity."
As Sylvia Johnson, a cousin of slain Pastor Clementa Pinckney, told MSNBC, the actual reality of Roof's actions is that he told a survivor "I have to do it -- you [African-Americans] rape our women and you're taking over our country." While his actions were just as "evil" as the Journal claimed them to be, they were also clearly motivated by the very racial animus that the editors claim no longer exists in the American South.
Even as a Confederate flag flies at full staff over the South Carolina state capitol building, the Journal insisted that contemporary Southern culture bears little relation to the one that led to the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963. It is "important to note that the U.S., notably the South, has moved forward to replace the system that enabled racist killings like those in the Birmingham church," the editors wrote.
"Back then and before, the institutions of government -- police, courts, organized segregation -- often worked to protect perpetrators of racially motivated violence, rather than their victims," the editors continued. But the notion that such manifestations of systemic racism are over is patently ridiculous -- even more so when you consider that this shooting happened just a few miles from where Walter Scott was gunned down by a North Charleston police officer earlier this year.
"The universal condemnation of the murders at the Emanuel AME Church" demonstrates that -- Walter Scott notwithstanding -- "the system and philosophy of institutionalized racism identified by Dr. King [in his response to the Birmingham bombing] no longer exists."
"What causes young men such as Dylann Roof to erupt in homicidal rage, whatever their motivation," the editors concluded, Americans can take "solace that in committing such an act today, he stands alone."