Dear Republican Presidential Candidates Trying To Cast The Charleston Shooting As An Attack On Religious Freedom: Shut Up, Please. You’re Embarrassing Yourselves.



I really thought that nothing could be as cynical and divisive as the President’s attempt to exploit the Charleston massacre for political objectives.

Why do I always underestimate the crass stupidity of Republicans?

“You just can’t think that things like this can happen in America. It’s obviously a crime of hate,” GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum told radio host Joe Piscopo yesterday—yes, that’s what Joe is doing now. Rick waxed on…

“Again, we don’t know the rationale, but what other rationale could there be? You’re sort of lost that somebody could walk into a Bible study in a church and indiscriminately kill people. It’s something that, again, you think we’re beyond that in America and it’s sad to see. All you can do is pray for those and pray for our country This is one of those situations where you just have to take a step back and say we — you know, you talk about the importance of prayer in this time and we’re now seeing assaults on our religious liberty we’ve never seen before. It’s a time for deeper reflection beyond this horrible situation.”

Now here is Lindsey Graham, also running for President: “It’s 2015. There are people out there looking for Christians to kill them.” Sen. Rand Paul, a reliable dolt, also weighed in with the same theme:

“What kind of person goes into church and shoots nine people? There’s a sickness in our country, there’s something terribly wrong, but it isn’t going to be fixed by your government. It’s people straying away, it’s people not understanding where salvation comes from.”

This is shameless, shameful, and stupid beyond all understanding. Gee, guys, did you notice any other common characteristics of the people attacked? Does that seem like just a coincidence to you? Did you detect any special feature about the killer that might suggest another motivation other than infringing on freedom of worship?

What was the reasoning here, if it even makes sense to apply the term reasoning to three statements that would embarrass a reasonably intelligent annelid worm?

“Now we know the President is going to exploit the facts that African Americans were shot to try to take away our Second Amendment rights and to set up a “War on Blacks” theme to tar Republicans with in the next election. How can we exploit this to push Republican taking points? There’s got to be a …HEY! I’ve got it! Let’s pretend these were just churchgoers, and that religious freedom was the target, and we can tie this to making homophobic haberdashers compromise their religious beliefs by renting tuxes for a wedding between two same sex perverts who want to defile the institution of marriage! It’s a hate crime against Christians!”

Really? Really?

Though to be fair, maybe we didn’t sufficiently explore the possibility that the Newtown shooter was making a protest against public education, and the Aurora shooter was expressing his critical dissatisfaction with Christian Bale’s portray of Batman.

How dishonest, how desperate, how degrading, how insulting.

And how embarrassing.

 UPDATE: Naturally, Fox News also framed the shooting in a similarly dishonest manner.

91 thoughts on “Dear Republican Presidential Candidates Trying To Cast The Charleston Shooting As An Attack On Religious Freedom: Shut Up, Please. You’re Embarrassing Yourselves.

  1. Please note that the SERIOUS candidates (Bush, Rubio, Jindal, Christie, etc) have not made such gaffes, not fair to tar the whole party.

    • Did I? “Dear Republican Candidates” doesn’t mean “All Republican Candidates”—it means the ones who are “…Trying To Cast The Charleston Shooting As An Attack On Religious Freedom.” That’s moderating clause: if one isn’t doing that, the criticism obviously doesn’t apply.

      However, I an not going to start following the news media’s assessment of who is a “serious” candidate at this point. Graham is no dummy. Paul has done well in some polls, and there was a moment in 2011 when Santorum looked like he had a shot.

    • 2 are, one is former, and all are reliable stumblers, you know, like that grand wizard of the KKK the Dems had recently…

    • Don’t know if he’s on the SERIOUS list or not, but Rick Perry just referred to the Charleston murders as an “accident.”

      • Here’s the quote:

        Speaking with Steve Malzberg of Newsmax, Perry criticized President Obama for using the massacre as an opportunity to raise the issue of gun reform, claiming the president was seeking to “take the guns out of the hands of everyone in this country.”

        “This is the MO of this administration,” Perry continued, “Anytime there is an accident like this, the president is clear: He doesn’t like for Americans to have guns, and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message.”
        Perry’s campaign staff was quick to insist that Perry misspoke, intending to say “incident” instead of “accident.”


        • “Incident” and “accident” are pretty likely to be mixed up given the source. Of course he doesn’t think it was an “accident”…let’s not have another amoral “gotcha” campaign of that sort (I say knowing that there surely already is one.) Unfortunately for Perry, being articulate should be a requirement for the President job.

  2. Jack,
    Rand Paul (is/can be) a dolt, though his quote doesn’t seem to have quite the same idiotic tone as the others. He doesn’t state (nor even imply, at least as far as my reading) that the shooting was an attack on religious freedom, only that it was obviously carried out by someone who wasn’t “saved” (according to his worldview).

    Arguing that more people need to come to Christ is a far cry from saying that those who haven’t are attacking the freedoms of those who have. Or am I missing something?


  3. Republicans need to hold themselves to a higher standard than this, because they will always be held to a higher standard by friend and foe alike. We also can’t pull off “fighting like progressives” because we’re simply not as polished in the tactics they utilize.

  4. I can’t wait for Charlesgreen, Beth, and Neil to kneejerk defend the indefensible…

    Oh oops this is about right wingers.

    Never mind.

    Any knee jerks out there?



    • Well, I’m willing to concede that the killer did not successfully seek salvation from God, so in that sense these statements can be defended as accurate. Good enough?

      As for this tragedy, I’m still processing it truthfully — and hoping that this doesn’t turn into mass rioting. I don’t have anything substantive to say right now.

  5. It troubles me that leaders from across the political spectrum have so little difficulty inferring that actions of one, deranged high school dropout are representative of the population at large.

    • I’m not sure he’s deranged. Growing up in a community with a very strong KKK presence, I can tell you that a lot of intelligent, hard-working people can be the worst bigots on the planet. The only difference is that they don’t get out a weapon.

      • Our thresholds for admittance into the category of deranged may differ. I am willing to admit any person that would walk into a church and gun down nine others. I am also willing to admit the “worst bigots on the planet”, regardless of how sane they appear in other domains of their lives.

      • By that reasoning then, most murderers are deranged. That well may be the case, but legally we can’t have it be so.

        • I guess I should be more specific. By deranged, I don’t mean legally insane; I’m sure he knew the wrongful nature of what he did. I guess maybe something like socially deviant, but that almost sounds as if I’m putting it on an equal footing with a sexual perversion, or something like that.

    • Q. What’s the difference between a radical islamist murdering 9 people and a white supremacist murdering 9 people?
      A. None at all worth noting.

      Are they both deranged, insane, people? I’d be OK with that.
      Are they both terrorists? I’d definitely be OK with that.

      I don’t know if you intended this, Otto, but others have – the feeling that this lone kid is “crazy” and a one-off, unlike “terrorists” from Al Quaeda and the like.

      It’s worth noting this from CNN’s National Security Analyst Peter Bergen:
      “If this attack on the church in Charleston had been conducted by a Muslim man shouting “Allahu akbar,” what is already a big news story would have become even bigger, as it would appear to fit so well into the political and media narrative that Muslim militants are the major terrorist problem in the United States.

      “That’s a false narrative, as it turns out. In fact, deadly acts of terrorism by virulent racists and anti-government extremists have been more common in the United States than deadly acts of jihadist terrorism since 9/11.

      “There is something particularly shocking in a multiracial, multiethnic, multireligious society about murdering people simply because of who they are. That’s true whether it’s African-Americans in Charleston attending a Bible study group or spectators at the Boston Marathon. These attacks are acts designed to terrorize, and we should call them such.”

      At least according to the police, “The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists. Just ask the police.”

      There are an estimated 5,000 – 8,000 members of the Ku Klux Klan in the US.

      And about 15,000 Aryan Brotherhood members, half in prison, from where they still manage to commit plenty of racial murders.

      Representative of the population at large? No, thankfully, not by a long shot.

      But the solo act of a quietly desperate loner? Not on your bippy.

      Terrorism is terrorism and we should not shirk from calling it by its true name.

        • Love it! The bippy reference. Gives me hope that the last words to be spoken to Mr. Roof will be by his executioner: “Say goodnight, Dick.”

          • Oh, the credit we give to television! “You bet your (sweet) bippy” is a linguistic descendant of versions that go back to the 1880s, when phrases like “You bet your sweet life” were commonly used. “Bippy” came into use in the 1920s as “butt” to replace “life” (a fair trade, I think). And “sock it to me” came from one of the Studs Lonigan trilogy in the 30s: “She really knew how to sock it to me when we danced the Dirty Boogie.” The question is whether Nixon knew what he was asking for.

      • As far as I’ve seen, though, as soon as the information that a terrorist shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ hits the airwaves, the story vanishes in a puff of ‘Never mind…’ and it gets quietly reclassified as ‘workplace violence.’

        • That’s one of the reasons I’m skeptical of university studies that say that right wing terrorism is more of a threat, both statistically and in the eyes of law enforcement, than Islam. Kind of like those studies that say that conservatives are less intelligent and other nonsense. If bet my life that the same amount of scientific rigor is applied. Islam seems to be a pet cause of the left.

        • Would it be too much to ask for a real example of this purported shift from Islamic militant violence to “workplace violence?”

            • Thanks! Interesting example. You are partly right, though which part is interesting..
              Here’s the Wikipedia description:

              “On November 5, 2009, a mass murder took place at Fort Hood, near Killeen, Texas. Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others. The shooting produced more casualties than any other on an American military base.Several individuals, including Senator Joe Lieberman General Barry McCaffrey, and others have called the event a terrorist attack. The United States Department of Defense and federal law enforcement agencies have classified the shootings as an act of workplace violence.”

              In other words, it was the Army and the DOD who insisted (initially) on calling it “workplace violence,” for the specific reason of wanting to keep jurisdiction.

              When public outcry got too much, and Congress got involved, the position was officially changed. See more at:

              While AaronPaschaal didn’t specifically suggest who was “making the story disappear in a puff,” I think that’s not a fair description of what happened. If you look at historical accounts fo the incident, at least in the Times and on Wikipedia, nobody’s trying to whitewash it. And the only ones who ever did, if you want to count them, was the Army.

              • I forgot to add a relevant part of the Wikipedia entry:

                “The U.S. government declined requests from survivors and family members of the slain to categorize the Fort Hood shooting as an act of terrorism, or motivated by militant Islamic religious convictions.[14] In November 2011, a group of survivors and family members filed a lawsuit against the government for negligence in preventing the attack, and to force the government to classify the shootings as terrorism. The Pentagon argued that charging Hasan with terrorism was not possible within the military justice system and that such action could harm the military prosecutors’ ability to sustain a guilty verdict against Hasan.[10]”

                • Fort Hood’s 2009 attack was indeed the first one that came to mind. The 2014 Oklahoma City beheading was another one. Similarly the 2013 beheading in London was charged as murder. Benghazi was a riot, after all. Dear leader has demonstrated time and again that he can’t even pronounce the word ‘terrorist’ anymore, but then, he doesn’t know the meaning of ‘war,’ either.

      • Muslim militants ARE the biggest terrorism problems in the US. No other group has racked up a bigger body count in any single instance of mass-murder. Now, if you’re talking about single instances of murder, it’s a close race between blacks and whites, but if you’re talking about interracial murder, black males win, in number, but especially per-capita rate. As far as prison murder, the state’s corrections departments have done a pretty good job of segregating gangs. Murder still occurs, but it’s not the free-for-all it used to be. Lastly, cops think that right wing extremists are the primary terrorism problem? C’mon, Charles.

        • Joed, did you bother to read the links? Here, I’ll save you the trouble.

          “Deadly acts of terrorism by virulent racists and anti-government extremists have been more common in the United States than deadly acts of jihadist terrorism since 9/11.”

          “According to a count by New America, since 9/11, 26 people have been killed in jihadist terrorist attacks in the United States, while extremist right-wing racists and anti-government militants have killed 48, if we include the nine people who were killed in the attack in Charleston, which is being investigated as a hate crime.”

          “Since 9/11, an average of nine American Muslims per year have been involved in an average of six terrorism-related plots against targets in the United States. Most were disrupted, but the 20 plots that were carried out accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.

          “In contrast, right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities, according to a study by Arie Perliger, a professor at the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center.”

          “The Global Terrorism Database maintained by the Start Center at the University of Maryland includes 65 attacks in the United States associated with right-wing ideologies and 24 by Muslim extremists since 9/11. The International Security Program at the New America Foundation identifies 39 fatalities from “non-jihadist” homegrown extremists and 26 fatalities from “jihadist” extremists.”

          Finally, about one-third of hate crime victims in 2013 were black; the next biggest category, at just under 20%, were gay/lesbian/bisexuals, distantly followed by whites, Jews, Hispanics and Muslims, in that order.

          “Lastly, cops think that right wing extremists are the primary terrorism problem? C’mon, Charles.”

          Yes, JoeD, they do. You could look it up. But I’ll save you that trouble too; here’s the money quote:

          “In a survey we conducted with the Police Executive Research Forum last year of 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction; 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations. And only 3 percent identified the threat from Muslim extremists as severe, compared with 7 percent for anti-government and other forms of extremism.”

          (That’s from a study by David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University).

          • Notice the large disparity in the numbers from one study to the next? That alone renders these numbers as suspect. I smell an agenda. As far as cops, I know quite a few of them in this town, and we talk aboit this and other current events. I don’t recall ever asking any of them this question specifically, but given how opinionated they are about Islam, how many of them are conservative even in this liberal enclave, and how the subject of “right-wing terrorism” has never, ever come up, I think it’s safe to assume they would disagree with this claim. This is a large enough representative sample for me to infer that cops considering right-wing extremism as more of a threat than Islam is a lie; not a flawed methodology, not confirmation bias, but an out-and-out lie.

            • Joe,
              Let me get this straight. You know a few cops. You say they’re conservative, and without even asking them you assume that they’d rate Islamic terrorists a greater threat than right-wingers. You see differing numbers in several quoted studies.

              On the basis of that “representative sample” – a conservative bunch of friends you’ve never even actually ASKED the question of – you’ve satisfied yourself that “those studies” are an “out-out-and-out lie.”

              I’m inferring that having satisfied your own curiosity WITHOUT EVEN THE NEED TO SPEAK TO YOUR SELF-ADMITTEDLY BIASED FRIENDS, you also didn’t find the need to look into those studies. (Who needs studies when you can mind-read your friends?).

              You see the issue here? There’s literally no point in discussing anything with someone who won’t engage on the basis of either logic or facts, who won’t explore facts offered, yet pretends that imaginary conversations constitute reasoned argument enough.

              Not the rules by which I’m playing.

              • Goddamnit! I just clicked on the Times article, and dumped my post! Oh well, it now needs to be re-written, now that I see that THE NEW YORK TIMES DID THE SURVEY !!!! Talk about bias? You reference this left wing purveyor of yellow journalism as a reliable, unbiased source ??? Really ??!!?? Leaving that gem alone for now, you do realize that, even if these Obama-blowers could somehow be trusted to perform an unbiased, scientifically-rigorous study of any sort, that those agencies polled are ALSO expressing an opinion? Did you look at the bios of the authors? The garbage they’ve shoveled before this? Oh my God! You probably shouldn’t have led me to dig into this. This piece of propaganda has zero value to me now. Nonetheless, I will ask these people directly. I didn’t select them as friends because of their ideological stance, for what it’s worth. I’ll report back, but I suspect you might move the goalpost or call me a liar. It will still be interesting for me.

                • Understand that, unfortunately, progressive academics and others in lofty positions have proven themselves to be, by and large, untrustworthy ideologues. They did it to themselves. I still want to believe in you, though.

                • Joed,

                  The NYTimes has a well known liberal editorial bias. It is also still one of the most professional news sources in the world.

                  And even if you’re too Fox-inflamed to believe that, you should know enough to click on the actual links the article provides.

                  If you do so, you’ll find data sources including the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center, the Police Executive Research Forum, and the Global Terrorism Database. You want to actually complain about data? Go to the source – which the NYT conveniently allows you to do.

                  Sorry, you don’t get off the hook by an ignorant rant about how you’re justified in ignoring everything because it appeared in the NYTimes.

                  • Fox-inflamed? I don’t watch Fox, or listen to Rush Limbaugh. I tend towards the various political discussion forums on satellite radio and the internet, both left and right, FWIW. I am on the Academy’s site, and am downloading their PDFs, all but one of which are on Islamic terrorism. I will dig into this thoroughly. I get the feeling I will find conflicting data, but we’ll see. I noticed this on the description of the far-right terrorism PDF synopsis: “To date, however, there has been limited systematic documentation and analysis of incidents of American domestic violence”. Can I infer from that, that there’s been limited documentation and analysis of the problem? I stand by my assertion that the NYT is hopelessly biased, has destroyed it’s own credibility, and used two liberals , one of which, well here:”Charles Kurzman is a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations. He is author of The Missing Martyrs (2011), Democracy Denied, 1905-1915 (2008), and The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran (2004), and editor of the anthologies Liberal Islam (1998) and Modernist Islam, 1840-1940 (2002).” Keep grasping.

                    • A liberal with a love affair with Islam , The NYT, and seemingly every trail I follow leads to either a whole mess of publications, initiatives, councels and what have you on muslim terrorism, or groups that are deeply in bed with CAIR. Still digging.

                    • Joe,
                      A fair shot at me for calling you “fox-inflamed.” Mea culpa, and I apologize. And I applaud you for digging in. I’m doing the same. It’s clear there is not a lot of data.

                      A brief bio on the other co-author:

                      David Schanzer is an associate professor of the practice at the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy University and director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, a research consortium between Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill and RTI International. In these capacities, he teaches courses, conducts research and engages in public dialogue on counterterrorism strategy, counterterrorism law and homeland security.

                      Schanzer is the lead author of a widely cited National Institute of Justice study on domestic radicalization – “Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim Americans” (2010) – and a report on “Improving Strategic Risk Management at the Department of Homeland Security,” published by the IBM Center for the Business of Government. He is a member of the Countering Violent Extremism Leadership Forum and has been a Research Fellow for the National Intelligence Council.

                      Prior to his academic appointments, Schanzer was the Democratic staff director for the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security from 2003 to 2005. He previously served as the legislative director for Sen. Jean Carnahan (2001-2002), counsel to Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (1996-1998), and counsel to Sen. William S. Cohen (1994-1996).

                      His positions in the executive branch include special counsel, Office of General Counsel, Department of Defense (1998-2001) and trial attorney, United States Department of Justice (1992-94). Schanzer was a clerk for U.S. District Judge Norma L. Shapiro and in the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States.

                      Schanzer is a graduate of Harvard College where he received an A.B. cum laude in government in 1985 and of Harvard Law School, where he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review from 1987-1989. Schanzer has appeared on international, national and local radio and television discussing terrorism and homeland security and is the author of more than 40 op-ed articles on these subjects that have appeared in newspapers around the country and on-line.

                      Now, I’m wondering if you’ll note that he’s pretty clearly a Democrat, and an East Coast Harvard liiberal, and thereby want to reject his data (without reading it?).

                      Let me also point out: Law Review Editor at Harvard; Department of Defense; trial attorney for the DOJ; and involved in House Committee on Homeland Security during the Bush Administraation.

                      I think those are pretty strong credentials, don’t you? They certainly merit taking his comments seriously, rather than rejecting them out of hand as appearing in a particular newspaper, or as having graduated from a particular uniersity, I would suggest.

                  • I don’t reject them out-of-hand, but unfortunately, being heavily pedigreed is meaning less and less these days (and all too often, more and more, if you catch my drift). Still, I agree that this matter warrants careful consideration. Have you noticed anything peculiar about Mr. Peringer’s style?

                    • Thanks. No, I don’t watch Fox, for the same reason I don’t watch CNN. Really, the only entertainer with an obvious conservative bias that I listen to and enjoy is Andrew Wilkow. He’s pretty good at constructing persuasive arguments based on sound logic.

          • I’ll tell you something that we have talked about; the fact that there’s little doubt that a great many terrorists have just walked right in to this country, and based on current events and direct threats from these people, it seems likely that a major Is-bomb event is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Sorry, but I don’t believe the cop claim at all.

          • “Deadly acts of terrorism by virulent racists and anti-government extremists have been more common in the United States than deadly acts of jihadist terrorism since 9/11.”

            Eh. You’d expect that, since all the anti-US-government extremists are over here (and it’s a big country), and most of the jihadist terrorists are over there.

            The fact that the former don’t FAR outpace the latter is more disturbing.

      • Thank you, Charles. I agree Roof is a terrorist, whether acting alone or in concert with others. Still, the somewhat comforting numbers you provide for KKK and Aryan Brotherhood membership suggest that Roof remains in very lonely company. If this were the only measure of the health of a nation, fewer than one one-hundredth of one percent (roughly .007%) of our population being members of these loathsome groups would show us to be in very good shape. One would be hard pressed to find a smaller minority.

    • This has to MEAN something! Something political! Otherwise, politicians would just have to shut their pieholes and focus on memorializing the victims, consoling their families, and boring stuff like that which they don’t much care about.

      By the way, wouldn’t Obama ignoring statistics and making everything about a gun plague count as magical thinking? He seems to believe that every mass shooting is a message from the universe that we should have embraced his gun platform, even though said platform wouldn’t have prevented said shootings.

  6. If the allegations against Mr. Roof are true, then he is barely different than the two thugs who tried to murder Pamela Geller.

  7. The worst thing – the alternate to the party that contains such idiots is the party that contains Hillary Rodham Clinton.

      • [scratching my head, giggling a little] What did Zoe mean, there, vs. what she SAID? Jack, what did YOU mean, and what, really, did YOU say? I don’t think we have seen “the worst thing” yet. It’s early.

        • You have to admit that “Fox-inflamed” is a worthy addition to the epithets that are flying around.

          [I would have posted this elsewhere but the “Reply” links are missing at several pertinent points.]

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