KELO-TV contextualizes the racist, terrorist shootings in the Charleston Emanuel AME Church Wednesday by speaking with a couple of horrified local Christians. KELO mentions the terror but not the racism:
While the deadly violence happened more than 1,400 miles away, the pain reaches Kristen Hickey. The longtime Christian is horrified by the murders, especially in a place of worship.
“It’s a place of solitude, it’s a place of peace, a place that you don’t expect to have violated by what’s going on in the world around us,” Hickey said.
Faith-based therapist Larry Porter says the recent violence could shatter the peace for some parisheners [sic] attending South Dakota churches. He says it’s important to have support.
“Typically, it can really challenge people in terms of where does my faith really rest,” Porter said [Hailey Higgins, “South Dakota Church-Goers React to SC Violence,” KELOLand.com, 2015.06.20].
In contextualizing the murder of nine African Americans by a white racist, KELO interviews two white Midwesterners who worry about the peace of their mostly white churches being shattered.
I understand the spiritual component of this crime. But that component is secondary, mentioned always as an appendix—“…and in a church, no less!”—and not as the headline of the crime. As Larry Wilmore’s scolding of Fox News for trying to portray this racist crime as part of the imagined war on Christianity (note: the shooter is Lutheran) suggests, failing to recognize the racist nature of this crime is irresponsible journalism, as irresponsible as it would have been during the civil rights movement to report that the murders of black churchgoers were anything other than racist crimes intended to scare blacks away from standing up for their equal citizenship.
Yet there is KELO, making just one mention of race in its article (referring to Emanuel as a “historic black church”) before focusing on white people’s anxiety. At some level, yes, churchgoers should be disappointed that one of their own would let his hatred overrule Christian love. But they should be more disappointed that KELO would not seek out black members of our church communities and ask them about their anxieties. In this case, KELO’s colorblindness causes it to miss the real story.