Friday, August 28, 2015

On Dylan Roof and Vester Lee Flanagan II

It's easy to find identitarians who wave away mental illness and blame belief systems when they speak of Dylann Roof, a white racist who murdered black people. Googling "dylann roof white privilege" brings up articles like these:

Calling Dylann Roof a 'terrorist' doesn't erase the privilege of his race | Yassir Morsi | Comment is free | The Guardian

Dear white allies after Charleston: Please understand this about your privilege - Salon.com

Duke Students: White People Are Basically All Dylann Roof | The Daily Caller

By their logic, when Vester Lee Flanagan murdered white people after writing, 'You want a race war [redacted]? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …[redacted]!!!”, he showed that contemporary anti-racism is simply a form of racial hatred, no different than the beliefs of the Nation of Islam that inspired John Allen Muhammad, the Beltway Sniper.

Mind you, I'm on the side that says deeds, not words, matter, and all violent people need mental health care. If the beliefs of murderers damn the people who share the belief in some way, both Flanagan, a Jehovah's Witness, and Roof, a Lutheran, damned all Christians. The tragedy of Vester Lee Flanagan is that he undoubtedly encountered racists and homophobes in his life, but because he was mentally ill, he could not see that most and maybe all of his neighbors and co-workers were troubled by him because of who he was, not what he was.

Anyone who insists Dylan Roof is an example of white privilege should accept Vester Lee Flanagan as an example of identitarianism. He understood the world in terms of race and gender, and he based his killing on that understanding.

Because identitarians have such a black-and-white understanding of the world, I'll end with the standard disclaimer: No, this does not mean there are no racists. See The limits of anti-racism by Adolph Reed Jr.