Fox News and numerous conservatives are denying and downplaying that race played a factor in the fatal shooting of nine black churchgoers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17.
Reuters notes that a Facebook page purportedly belonging to the alleged white shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, included a picture of him wearing "a black jacket in the picture that prominently features the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, from when the two African countries were ruled by the white minority."
One of Roof's Facebook "friends" Derrick "D-Gutta" Pearson reportedly published a picture of Roof sitting on a car with a license plate that said: "Confederate States of America."
"You rape our women and you're taking over our country. And you have to go," Roof said during the shooting, according to a survivor who relayed the quote to Sylvia Johnson, the cousin of one of the shooting victims, Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, reported NBC News.
CNN reported that witnesses claimed Roof said he was there "to shoot black people."
CBS Atlanta reports, "Authorities called it a hate crime ... The Justice Department is opening a hate crime investigation into the shooting."
On June 17 on Fox News, the morning show "Fox & Friends" ran the headline "Attack On Faith," instead of acknowledging what has been described as an attack based on race (video below).
According to RawStory.com, Pastor E.J. Jackson stated on the show, "We are urging people, 'Wait for the facts, don't jump to conclusions,' but I have to tell you, I am deeply concerned that this gunman chose to go into a church because there does seem to be a rising hostility against Christians across this country because of our Biblical views. And I just think it’s something that we have to be aware of and not create an atmosphere in which people take out their violent intentions against Christians."
However, there is no indication yet that the shooting had anything to do with Biblical views or Christianity.
Jackson also urged pastors and men in churches to arm themselves with guns to defend their congregations, even though there is no Biblical command to do so.
"Fox & Friends" co-host Steve Doocy later added, "It was released earlier, extraordinarily, they called it a hate crime. And some look at it because it was a white guy apparently and a black church. But you made a great point just a moment ago about the hostility toward Christians, and it was a church, so maybe that’s what they’re talking about. They haven't explained it to us."
Jackson replied, "Well, yeah, I don't know whether, most people jumped to conclusions about race. I long for the day when we stop doing that in our country. We don’t know why he went into a church. But he didn’t choose a bar, he didn’t choose a basketball court, he chose a church."
Identifying a crime as a "hate crime" is not an attack on race as Jackson suggested, but rather a criminal classification of a bigoted motivation by the suspect.
NAACP President Cornell William Brooks said in a statement: "The NAACP was founded to fight against racial hatred and we are outraged that 106 years later, we are faced today with another mass hate crime," noted CBS Atlanta.
Salon.com reports on there was much denial on Twitter that the shooting of nine black people by the alleged white gunman was racially motivated:
"Watch the circus Charleston is about to become. Unless, of course the victims were white. Then we would see press interest wane in 24 hrs."
"Re Charleston shootings... you got white guilt buffoons blubbering on and on about white racism... while every damn day blacks kill many more!"
"Though race may have been a factor in #Charleston, why polarize into black vs. white? It would be a tragedy no matter who was in that church"
"How do we know this was a hate crime? Anytime a white person kills a black person, its hate crime? Maybe it was about religion. #charleston"
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones tweeted, “Media blames white terror and #2ndAmendment for SC shooting.”