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Star Parker

Founder & President, Center for Urban Renewal and Education

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Opinion

Biden politicizes horrific church shooting

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Star Parker

Founder & President, Center for Urban Renewal and Education

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On the evening of June 17, 2015, a white supremacist gunned down worshippers inside of a historically Black South Carolina church. On Jan. 8, 2024, President Biden travelled to give a speech at that church, in which he categorized white supremacism as a “poison” in American society. Conservative politicians from South Carolina, including Nikki Haley and Tim Scott, have criticized the president’s speech and questioned his sincerity.

Straight Arrow News contributor Star Parker summarizes some of the criticisms from Scott and Haley, and accuses President Biden of politicizing the tragic event that unfolded nine years ago.

Senator Tim Scott, he played a crucial role in helping the Charleston community and the State of South Carolina come together in common purpose after the horrific killings at Mother Emanuel. Senator Scott was deeply offended by Biden’s political speech at the church, and he said in response:   

“To use the pain of Mother Emanuel to not only further divide Americans, but seek to score political points, is disrespectful, inappropriate, and beneath who we are. The story of Mother Emanuel is bigger than politics. It’s the power of Matthew 5:44 — the power of forgiveness — that unified our state and nation.”

Former Gov. Nikki Haley, now a candidate for president, also weighed in. She said it was “offensive” that Biden gave a “political speech” at Mother Emanuel. She found it ironic that the speech was delivered by a political figure “who palled around with segregationists in the ‘70s and has said racist comments all the way through his career.”

Whoops, ouch, and she’s right.

Biden’s speech, and the reaction it has engendered, demonstrates why it is important that our nation restores the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That vision that he articulated 60 years ago, that we must be a country where equal opportunity for all is a reality, and all people are judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

Joe Biden seems intent on dividing Americans and using racial language for short-term political gain. This presidential campaign will determine whether this is going to be our reality, whether our country continues down that divisive path, or if we’re going to choose a leader who can move us to a more hopeful future. 

On January 8, President Joe Biden gave a highly charged political speech at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Mother Emanuel is a sacred space where nine Black Bible study participants were murdered by an avowed White supremacist in 2015.

The 12 participants in the Bible study welcomed the stranger who arrived at their church that Wednesday night. They prayed over him for an hour. He then stood up, and without mercy, murdered nine of them — including the pastor who was a sitting legislator in South Carolina.

Rather than turning against one another in the wake of such an unspeakable atrocity, the people of South Carolina united in their commitment to bring the deranged shooter to justice and to honor the beautiful souls who lost their lives that day. They held vigils and prayed and they healed their community.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley participated in many of those vigils and attended all nine funerals. She was deeply disturbed about the hate that fueled the shooter’s actions, but also moved by the kindness and love the members of the community showed to one another during this devastating period.

Having seen the shooter’s social media postings, draping himself in a Confederate flag, and then hearing from members of the community, and how deeply hurtful it was for them to see that flag that reminded them of slavery displayed on the grounds of the State Capitol, Gov. Haley called on the state legislature to have the flag removed, and a supermajority of the legislature responded accordingly.

Now this is a really important moment in our history, because just prior in like 1996, then-Governor David Beasley tried to pull the flag down and they removed him, they recalled him.

To show you just how much South Carolina has grown from its past to now embrace a new space, and that’s one of the reasons that for Biden to go to that church and make it political was just so bad.

Senator Tim Scott, he played a crucial role in helping the Charleston community and the State of South Carolina come together in common purpose after the horrific killings at Mother Emanuel. Senator Scott was deeply offended by Biden’s political speech at the church, and he said in response:   

“To use the pain of Mother Emanuel to not only further divide Americans, but seek to score political points, is disrespectful, inappropriate, and beneath who we are. The story of Mother Emanuel is bigger than politics. It’s the power of Matthew 5:44 – the power of forgiveness – that unified our state and nation.”

Former Gov. Nikki Haley, now a candidate for president, also weighed in. She said it was “offensive” that Biden gave a “political speech” at Mother Emanuel. She found it ironic that the speech was delivered by a political figure “who palled around with segregationists in the ‘70s and has said racist comments all the way through his career.”

Whoops, ouch, and she’s right.

Biden’s speech, and the reaction it has engendered, demonstrates why it is important that our nation restores the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That vision that he articulated 60 years ago, that we must be a country where equal opportunity for all is a reality, and all people are judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

Joe Biden seems intent on dividing Americans and using racial language for short-term political gain. This presidential campaign will determine whether this is going to be our reality, whether our country continues down that divisive path, or if we’re going to choose a leader who can move us to a more hopeful future. 

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