Lindsey Graham's racist Charleston jab: White supremacist suspect showed "Mideast hate"

The 2016 presidential candidate had previously called for healing after last week's massacre

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published June 24, 2015 9:52PM (EDT)

  (AP/Rainier Ehrhardt)
(AP/Rainier Ehrhardt)

This is why we can’t have nice things.

South Carolina Senator and Republican candidate for president Lindsey Graham took to the Senate floor today to honor the victims of last week’s shooting at a historical African-American church in Charleston but instead of simply acknowledging the solemn moment, Graham reached back into his derisive ways to blast suspected shooter Dylann Roof’s actions as inexplicable like “Mideast hate.”

"I don't know how you could sit in a church and pray with them for an hour and shoot them. That's Mideast hate. That's something I didn't think we had here but apparently we do" said Graham.

South Carolina’s political class had come together in near unanimity to call for the removal of the Confederate Flag from federal grounds just days before, leading to the flag being yanked from major retailers and other southern state capitols, but Graham’s statement signals an unwillingness to refrain from divisive language until the victims had all received a burial.

On Tuesday, the son of infamous segregationist Strum Thurmond made an impassioned commitment to racial reconciliation in a speech calling for the Confederate flag’s removal:

We must take down the Confederate flag, and we must take it down now. But if we stop there, we have cheated ourselves out of an opportunity to start a different conversation about healing in our state. I am ready. Let us start the conversation.

Graham had previously tweeted his hopes for healing in South Carolina:

[embedtweet id=13090098679164929]

Watch the video of Graham's remarks below, via Think Progress:

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Charleston Massacre Lindsey Graham Racism Republicans Video