Not Even the Reality of Racial Violence Can Overcome the Razzle-Dazzle of a Presidential Candidate
Sixty years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic March on Washington, much of his dream is still just a dream.
I’d like to offer a more cheerful message, but that’s hard today, even for a resilient self-described optimist like me, after this year’s anniversary march on the Washington Mall was followed the next day by a racially motivated rampage in Jacksonville, Florida.
Authorities say 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter fatally shot three people in a Dollar General store with an AR-15-style rifle and a handgun before turning the gun on himself.
He was white, and the three victims, later identified as Angela Michelle Carr, 52, Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre Jr, 19, and Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion, 29, were Black.
Speaking at a news conference Sunday, Sheriff T.K. Waters described the suspect as a white man who “hated Black people,” and then he released a suicide note, a will and a written rant of racism that the sheriff described as “quite frankly, the diary of a madman.”
I don’t want to make too much of this tragedy, if that’s possible, but one cannot help but note that the Saturday rampage was the latest high-profile racially motivated attack carried out by a white gunman in the United States.
It follows the mass shooting last year that targeted Black people and left 10 dead at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. And an attack in 2019 at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, by a deranged gunman who told police he wanted to kill Mexicans.
“This is a dark day in Jacksonville’s history. There is no place for hate in this community,” Waters said. “I am sickened by this cowardly shooter’s personal ideology.”
And earlier in August, after a two-month trial, a federal jury in Pittsburgh unanimously recommended the death penalty for a white Pennsylvania man who killed 11 congregants in October 2018 at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. He also critically wounded two others and injured five police officers.
Yet, I think King would be saddened by the cynical messages of political rancor that we have been hearing recently in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
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