Don't Read Dylann Roof's Manifesto — It's Nothing But Hate Speech That Doesn't Teach Us Anything
Early on Saturday, Twitter users found a site registered by Dylann Roof, the man accused of shooting and killing nine black people who were attending a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday. The site is 2,444 words of painfully racist, white supremacist ramblings, founded on nothing other than the author's (presumably Roof) own opinions on other races and the state of white America. Having read the "manifesto," I can say that it was sickening, difficult to get through, and extremely unsettling. In short, I don't think that Roof's manifesto is worth reading, because it is nothing more than an enthusiastic unleashing of racist sentiments that will not provide any insight into how we can improve race relations in America, nor will it help make sense of the tragedy he caused.
The webpage is dedicated entirely to circuitous hostilities about race, the "superiority" of white people (throughout the document, the word "white" is capitalized, but other races are left in lower case), and myriad other hateful claims. In the aftershock of the tragedy in Charleston, and the sadness, anger, along with forgiveness from some family members of the victims, it is expected that we would want to know as much as we can about Roof and the motivations behind his actions. The website, however, reveals nothing that you couldn't have guessed goes on in Roof's mind, and I think we can agree that there is already too much attention and credence given to racism, and this type of rhetoric is not worth our time.
In the wake of this tragedy you want to hear from the families of the victims. You want to know if the U.S. will get policies that help prevent mass shootings. You want to follow Roof's case. But is it really necessary to read through thousands of words that are filled with nothing but hate? What is the point?
You could probably guess that Roof was racist. When confessing to the shooting in Charleston, Roof stated that he wanted to start a race war, and former classmates have said that Roof would often make racist jokes. The shooting is being called a hate crime. The manifesto perhaps sheds more light on the depth of Roof's white supremacist delusions, but it does nothing to advance the conversation surrounding gun violence and racism. It does not provide insights that would be helpful in understanding how tragedies such as Charleston can be prevented, and does not teach us anything new about racist thinking.
The manifesto is hate speech, plain and simple. It could potentially be important for the prosecutors in Roof's case, as he appears to state his plans for the shooting on his site, but apart from that, there is nothing in this document that any of us needs to see. There is already more than enough institutionalized racism and race-based discrimination and violence. More of this hate from Dylann Roof does not deserve our attention.
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