Charleston's Dead Were Victims of Victimhood

Image source: CBS News
Image source: CBS News

I have been accused of blaming the victim in my post on Thursday arguing that if Rev. Clementa Pinckney supported legislation to legalize firearms carry at churches in South Carolina his life may have been saved from Dylann Roof’s bullets.

This is not mere speculation.

I don’t blame the victims of Wednesday night’s massacre. They did nothing to deserve their grisly deaths. All 9 were in fact totally innocent, and they should be grieved, not made into political footballs to be kicked through ideological goalposts. Each of those victims were real people, not objects.

They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Their grieving friends, relatives, and fellow worshippers also deserve to be treated as human beings, not witnesses or sensationalized heroes or cowards. They were just people at a Bible study and prayer meeting on a Wednesday night (something more Christians should do), whose lives were violently interrupted (and in the case of the dead, ended) by evil.

I blame victimhood for the killings, not the victims.

When I was asked the question:

“If Rev. Pinckney had supported SC H.3025 to allow legal carry in churches, he could have been saved from a defenseless death.”

When you wrote that caption, and I am presuming you wrote it, did you ever consider that you were blaming the victim for his murder at the hands of pure evil or worse?

I answered truthfully: Yes. I considered that I was blaming the victim for his murder at the hands of pure evil.

But I don’t blame him for being the victim of evil. I blame those would would call him a victim before he was even killed. Rendering Pinckney defenseless in the face of evil made him—and all the people with him—victims before Dylann Roof ever entered the church.

Dylan Storm Roof carefully planned his evil act for months.  While he may or may not be mentally disturbed, he certainly embodies evil intent.  ABC News reported Thursday:

Dalton Tyler, who said he has known Roof for seven months to one year, said he saw the white, 21-year-old suspect just last week.

“He was big into segregation and other stuff,” Tyler said. “He said he wanted to start a civil war. He said he was going to do something like that and then kill himself.”

Roof set up his plan thusly: (1) obtain a weapon, (2) find a location where his victims would be defenseless, and (3) kill them in cold blood.

Step (2) is where my point about legal church carry is not speculation: if there was at least one S.C. Concealed Weapons Permit holder at the church (which I challenge some journalist with time and budget to explore—it would take interviews and possibly FOIA requests to be sure—I am a simple blogger with neither), that would present a problem for Roof.

Just the possibility that someone would shoot back would likely have deterred Roof from shooting at the church. If he wasn’t smart enough to consider that possibility, then he may have faced the real possibility of being shot and killed before he was able to take 9 lives.*

Case in point. In 2007, 6 people were shot and 2 killed at New Life Church in Colorado Springs.  The church had increased its security contingent after hearing of the shootings at Youth With a Mission in Arvada, with the killer still at large.  The gunman was killed by a security guard, but it didn’t have to be a security guard.

In Colorado, it’s legal for a permit holder to carry a firearm in church (C.R.S. 18-12-214).  The “security guard” may have simply been a worshipper—a volunteer—who is there to keep the congregation safe.

“It’s a tragedy that could have been much worse than it was,” the police chief admitted.

Admittedly, the situations in Colorado and Charleston don’t fully line up, but you don’t hear about tragedies which are averted because the would-be killer aborted his plan.  You also don’t hear about all the aborted robberies, foiled muggings, scrubbed bank heists, and cancelled assaults because the perpetrators were deterred by the risk of committing those crimes.

Deter: discourage (someone) from doing something, typically by instilling doubt or fear of the consequences. (Source: Google.)

If one of the congregants at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church could potentially have been legally armed, that would serve as a deterrent to Roof, and he may very well have not gone ahead with his evil plan Wednesday night.

No, that’s not speculation. With Roof alive and in custody, authorities will certainly explore his motive and methods prior to his trial. Indeed, to establish a case for a hate crime, evidence of planning and specific obstacles Roof considered will assuredly be key facts for the Department of Justice.

To understand the attitude of victimhood, you must merely look at history.

73 years ago, 15 evil people met together in Wannsee, Germany, a suburb of Berlin, to plan the murder of 6 million Jews. It was called “the final solution to the Jewish question.”  No serious person doubts that the Jews of Western and Eastern Europe were victims of the Nazis (if you do doubt the Holocaust, you may be the same category of person as Dylann Roof). But the Jews were victims well before that meeting in January 1942.

According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading authority on documenting the Holocaust, approximately 542,000 Jews emigrated from their home countries to safety before the war, and a much smaller number were able to escape once the war began.  The United States limited the number of Jewish immigrants to 153,744 per year, with severe restrictions that many times prevented even that number from immigrating.

The Jews were stuck—they subscribed to victimhood, because they didn’t believe that the Nazis were evil enough to exterminate them.  Some believed it, but most didn’t.  From Wiesenthal:

Regarding the knowledge of the “Final Solution” by its potential victims, several key points must be kept in mind. First of all, the Nazis did not publicize the “Final Solution,” nor did they ever openly speak about it. Every attempt was made to fool the victims and, thereby, prevent or minimize resistance. Thus, deportees were always told that they were going to be “resettled.” They were led to believe that conditions “in the East” (where they were being sent) would be better than those in ghettos.

Weigh this against the American experiment in self-government, where citizens are expected and trusted to defend themselves and others against tyranny and evil.  As I quoted in my post, James Madison wrote in Federalist #46, “Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion, that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession, than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors.”

Prior to the Revolutionary War, all Americans were subject to the capriciousness and cupidity of King George III, and instead of overthrowing that tyrannical overlord to replace him with another ruler, our founding fathers based our government on a principle of citizen-rule and self-responsibility.

Denying people the right to self-defense and defense of the defenseless is not only against American ideals, it’s also counter to Biblical instruction.  Isaiah 10 speaks of social justice, giving government the charge to protect widows and orphans.

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees,
to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.

What applies to government, also applies to us all.  In the New Testament, James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

There is such a thing as justified violence to protect the defenseless.

The argument that if only there were no (insert your favorite term here: guns, nuclear weapons, knives, pop-tarts, anthrax) in the world, evil would have no advantage over the weak. If only Roof were unable to get his hands on a gun, he wouldn’t have been able to kill 9 people.

This is true, but it’s a Utopian dream without any substance. Unfortunately, too many people, including Rev. Pinckney, believed and continue to believe this.

President Obama said about the Charleston killings:

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. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this kind of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. It is in our power to do something about it.

We can’t prevent Roof from obtaining a gun by making laws any more than we can prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon by negotiations.  A criminal will lie, steal, and commit crimes to obtain that which he wants (and a criminal state will do the same to obtain that which it wants).

Short of confiscating 300 million handguns in the U.S. at gunpoint (by whom?), it’s just fantasy to think we can make America gun-free, and pretending the founding fathers wanted America to be gun-free is simply twisting history to suit policy.

It’s ironic that another country founded on the principle of not being victims is completely supported by Obama’s rhetoric.  In 2012, Ha’aretz reported:

The United States must resolve that “never again” is not just an empty slogan, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday, in a statement marking Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“As individuals, we must guard against indifference in our hearts and recognize ourselves in our fellow human beings,” the American president said, adding that, as “societies, we must stand against ignorance and anti-Semitism, including those who try to deny the Holocaust. As nations, we must do everything we can to prevent and end atrocities in our time.”

“Everything we can” means oppose evil with violence when necessary.  “As individuals” means we have a personal responsibility to do so.  Of course, Israel has very strict gun laws for civilians (much stricter than the U.S. as they have no Second Amendment), but on the other hand, most Israelis are in the military or reserves, and many are required to carry weapons.  One thing I can tell you:  Israelis do not consider themselves victims of victimhood.  They are determined not to be defenseless against any evil, individually, or as a nation.

America was founded on similar principles, but we have succumbed to accepting ourselves as victims of victimhood.

I am not blaming the victims of Wednesday’s massacre for being victims.  I am calling out those who would make us all victims of victimhood and allow evil to have its way. In no small part, those 9 dead were victims of your Utopian fantasies just as they were victims of Roof’s evil.

(crossposted from sgberman.com)

*P.S. One clarification: my previous post described South Carolina’s law in contrast to Georgia.  That was incorrect. S.C. law allows churches to give specific people permission to carry, which Georgia’s HB 60 also does. However, S.C. H.3025 would have allowed any permit holder to carry. It’s an important distinction, and it does not change the fact that Pinckney opposed both the current law and the proposed legislation expanding where firearms can be carried.