Here’s a paragraph or two that’s not yet thought out or sourced (go read CNN), but my way of asking for reader comments:
There are superficial, or maybe even substantial, similarities between teens running off to join ISIS after being enticed by recruiting materials online, and this kid deciding, after reading the news online through the lens of racist groups, to start a “race war” (though there’s a certain “small bit of good news” that he felt as if he didn’t have anyone with whom he could make common cause). The shooter, from all reports, wasn’t raised by an openly-racist family, any more than, at least as reported, ISIS-joining teens weren’t raised in radical jihadist families.
Now, in the case of the Charleston shooter, we don’t know a lot — from “dropped out after 9th grade” to his current age of 21 there’s a big gap. Was he genuinely mentally ill? We have no idea. Certainly no one’s suggesting that ISIS-joining teens are mentally ill.
Is it all the fault of “hate groups” — ISIS and White Supremacist groups — able to spread their message through the internet in ways that weren’t possible when one needed to preach in person or maybe sent out your newsletter in the mail? If, so what can we do about it?
Does it mean that each of us has a responsibility of vigilance towards those in our own families, to make sure they’re not slipping away? Reportedly the killer’s friends didn’t think he would actually follow through with his plans (except the friend who feared being charged with “stealing” the gun); we don’t know about his parents yet. And, in any case, we don’t really know what to do about those who have pulled away from family and friends.
Is there a “kernel” of racism that has to be eliminated wherever it exists? But how? — without thought control and punishment for wrong thoughts, and especially when we’re told that the “kernel of racism” exists anytime someone declines to follow the Social Justice Warrior agenda, acknowledge their White Privilege, etc.
Certainly, one would like to believe that the Love One Another message of the Gospels would be relevant here. But one presumes that, if this kid ever was raised in a Christian home, it certainly didn’t “take”, and, in any case, we can’t assume that of future potential “recruits” what with the decline in believers in the first place.