Last Thursday morning I learned of the tragic murdering of nine people in a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. The slain were Black and the alleged shooter is White.
According to this and other such reports:
The gunman allegedly told the victims before the shooting, "You rape our women and you're taking over our country. And you have to go."
Let’s suppose the alleged murderer did in fact say this. Did he truly believe that the people he was murdering were guilty of raping women and taking over the United States—these particular folks who were praying and studying the Bible in church? It seems most unlikely that he believed this.
What kind of madness drives a person to attack people for crimes he knows they never actually committed? The illogic is more common than you may think.
While the level of violence on display here is uncommon, the mentality from which it springs is all too familiar. That is, it is commonplace to blame entire groups for the behaviors of individuals within those said groups—regardless of personal innocence.
Dylann Roof allegedly feels justified (at least at the time) in killing just any Black person because of what some Black persons do. Others feel justified in hating just any White person because of what some White persons do (or did 200 years ago).
But the fact is no one should be hated or vilified for the transgressions of others. Furthermore the personification, the blaming of a race for the behavior of individuals is non-rational.
There have been White and Black slaves. There have been White and Black slave owners. But it is entirely wrongheaded to think that one race could enslave another race. An individual can own or be owned. A race cannot. An individual can rape or be raped; love or be loved; loot or be looted; forgive or be forgiven. A race cannot.
When will we get it through our thick heads that personifying race and then blaming all for the sins of some, is irrational and hopelessly unjust?
Fathers shall not be put to death for their children,
nor shall children be put to death for their fathers;
a person shall be put to death for his own sin.