In an interview today with CNN anchor Jake Tapper, South Carolina House Minority Leader J. Todd Rutherford held forth on the backdrop of the Charleston massacre, in which suspect Dylann Roof last night allegedly killed nine people at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church. According to accounts, Roof came to the church, prayed with congregants and declared that he had come to “shoot black people.”
Rutherford referenced “rhetoric nationwide has led people to believe, like this young man, that it’s okay to walk into a church and take nine lives.” Tapper asked him to explain further. So he did:
South Carolina is one of five states that does not have a hate crimes law. South Carolina is the only state that I’m aware of that still flies a Confederate flag in front of the statehouse dome. South Carolina represents and is emblematic of the problem, which is words come from these networks that broadcast what they call news, but it’s not. It’s really hate speech and coded language and leads people to believe they can walk into a church, because it’s no longer a house of god, it’s a killing ground. It’s a place that they can feel free to desecrate and leave blood everywhere, and that’s what this man did. And he did so on some ill-gotten belief, on some wrong belief that it’s okay to do that. He hears that, because he watches the news and he watches things like Fox News, where they talk about things that they call news, but they’re really not. They use that coded language, they use hate speech, they talk about the president as if he’s not the president. They talk about churchgoers as if they’re not really churchgoers. And that’s what this young man acted on. That’s why you can walk into a church and treat people like animals when they’re really human beings.
In an act of understatement, Tapper said there was a lot to “unpack” in that statement.