On January 10, 2016, a federal jury recommend 22-year old Dylann Roof be sentenced to death. This verdict was a result of his actions on June 17, 2015, when Roof committed one of the most horrific hate crimes in modern U.S. history. Roof carefully planned and committed the murder of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Roof specifically chose his target for its historical significance of being the oldest African Methodist Episcopal churches in the Southern United States. Roof attended the regular Wednesday night Bible Study, sitting quietly with his victims for 15 minutes before firing 70 rounds with a semi-automatic .45 caliber Glock pistol, killing 9 African Americans. The next morning when Dylann Roof was captured, he confessed to his crimes and made his motivations abundantly clear. Roof’s spree crime was solely inspired by racism and the desire to start a racial war in the United States.
Last night, I had an opportunity to read Dylann Roof’s entire prison journal. The journal was seized and presented by the prosecution as evidence during his trial. I have to admit, when I read the words transcribed by this cold blooded killer, I was a bit shocked.
First of all, I was stunned into reflection as I realized, Roof’s writings mirrored my own. Now, when I say they mirrored my own, I mean that they were not the incoherent ramblings of a madman. Rather, they were, for the most part, well-articulated thoughts drawn together with a degree of logic and evidence to substantiate their support. However, just like a mirror, Roof’s writings and opinions are the exact opposite of my own. Roof believes violence is an ends to a means, where I choose to believe that peace is a far more potent force. Roof believes in the superiority of the white race, where I consider that equality amongst all people to be representative of the most divine of all human pursuits.
Interestingly, Roof’s writings do not appear to be emblematic of most racist or nationalist typical rantings of filth. In fact, after a few drawings, one of which is the archetype White Jesus, Roof begins with sharing his views on Jews. For over an entire page Roof, speaks highly of Jews. However, he ends his account by saying, “The Jews are undoubtedly our enemies, indeed our greatest enemy and obstacle in saving our race.”
Roof’s journal then covers, Hispanics, Muslims, Asians, Slavic people, homosexuality, Christianity, along with a few occasional disparaging comments on random topics, such as Feminism and left-wing politics. He doesn’t share many thoughts on African Americans, in his writings, other than the clarifies that indeed he desired to commit his acts as a catalyst to start a race war between whites and blacks.
Roof shares his opinions of inferiority or negativity towards virtually everyone, except interestingly he seems to show an affinity towards Asian people. However, much like in my style of writing, he is not directly one dimensional. He shares an open opinion of reverence for some attributes of each ethnic or cultural group. In fact, Roof spends a great deal of his journal being highly critical of the white race and white supremacist groups. He considers white people and hate groups to be cowards in their willingness to be submissive racist and allow themselves to believe that “someone else will do something, so I don’t need to.”
Ultimately, it is through examining Dylann Roof’s journal one can one get a genuine sense of what created a monster and the reality that there is no passive form of racism. First, Roof is not crazy, in the absolute sense that most of us think of someone who has a mental illness. In fact, from just his writings alone, Roof appears to suffer from nothing more than narcissism. Narcissism alone does not equate to psychopathy, and in fact, many great leaders have themselves been narcissists.
Roof says, “I would like to make it crystal clear. I do not regret what I did. I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.” However, he follows this up with, “I feel pity that I had to do what I did in the first place. I feel pity that I had to give up my life because of a situation that should never have existed.” What Roof is exhibiting is that he isn’t completely incapable of emotion. Rather, he possesses delusions grandeur of his own self-worth. He believes himself to be as a messianic-like figure that has been crucified to save the white race.
After Roof committed his crimes many white supremacist groups, such as the Council of Conservative Citizens, or The Daily Stormer website, condemned his violent actions. However, they said Roof had legitimate grievances against African Americans. Now, whether the sentiment behind those statements is valid or not is irrelevant, because regardless of what one says, indeed the encouragement of explicit racism is 100% responsible for Dylann Roof’s actions.
In reading Roof’s journal, and realizing that his writings mirrored my own, in terms feeling of a sense of duty to not the world fall into chaos, did I realized how ultimately damaging explicit prejudice indeed is. Dylann Roof is a narcissistic, young man, who felt he was destined for more than his current state in life. How, he chose to go about making a difference in the world, demonstrates the inversion of darkness and light. Dylann Roof could have possessed the level of intelligence and willingness to make a difference in this world for good. However, he chose the dark side of the force.
A thousand years from now, people may consider George Lucas to be one of the greatest theologians of our time. His Star Wars movies, epitomize the very real life struggle between the light and dark side of “the force.” When someone feels like they have a purpose of making a difference in the world, it can become easy for them to give in to the dark side. The dark side is sexier, suave and more visually compelling than the side of the light. For example, little Kids don’t want to dress up as Luke Skywalker. Rather, they want to be Darth Vadar.
For Dylann Roof, explicit racism was the Death Star, The Emperor, or Darth Vadar’s ominous black costume. Racism and hatred towards others gave him his “Empire” to fight for and become the “patriot” he believed he was supposed to be. Make no mistake, every single white person who uses the “N-word” or any other racial epithet is entirely at fault for raising a monster in Dylann Roof. Additionally, every single hate group, racist, or alt-right website facilitates the growth of wickedness, violence, and radical hate. Passive racism does not exist, because it is not a victimless crime. Hateful beliefs, provide justification for hate-filled groups, hate-filled groups promote the dark side in people and ultimately seed evil in the Dylann Roofs of the world.
Dylann Roof’s crimes are horrific, and his writings show that he is gone to the dark side to the point of being unsalvageable. However, make no mistake what caused Roof to given in to evil, will not die the day he is executed. Rather that evil still exists so long as we promote hate. Because there ultimately is no passive form of hate.