As news spread of the tragic shooting rampage at the Emmanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina, America’s white supremacists reacted swiftly. The killing spree left nine dead and a community in shock. The alleged shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, was arrested on June 18 and charged with nine counts of murder one day later.
Some white supremacists were, predictably, openly delighted by the massacre. On The Daily Stormer, a popular neo-Nazi web site, there was unabashed praise for Roof. “He had the balls to do what most white supremacists only talk big about,” commented Spartan 117 (punctuation and wording in comments reproduced here are as in the originals). “He is probably tired of all the race mixing propaganda, arrogant blacks, and tired of the negro getting pushed down his throat at every turn…. who cares what fate befalls the negros. We should have as much consideration for blacks as we do a fucking tapeworm latched onto to our gut. Face it, negros are an enemy people to us, we shouldn’t care what happens to these arrogant n-----s.”
Others cheered Roof because they believe his actions would hasten the destruction of American cities, seen by some white supremacists as ground zero for the diversity “problem.” A poster identifying himself as John Sovereign wrote on the white supremacist discussion forum Vanguard News Network (VNN) that “the best thing that will come out of this is more ape rage and more cities destroyed...Good! Keep it up.”
Many posters on Stormfront, the most popular white supremacist Internet forum, fretted over the impact the shooting would have on the white supremacist cause, emphasizing the apparent lack of connection between Roof and organized racist groups. “I’ve heard of targeting ‘soft targets,’” wrote user Fiddler, “but this latest lone wolf nitwit picked a ‘mushy target.’Could he have possibly chosen more sympathetic victims?”
Generally, comments on Stormfront were more muted than at some other white supremacist venues, with a few Stormfronters even expressing disgust over the violence. This drew the ire of white supremacists on other forums, such as VNN. “They are crying over the split blood of these ‘Christian’ N-----s over on Stormfront,” posted user EricPowers on VNN. “Can't believe so many people have sympathy on these N-----s just because their Christians. Like that some how makes them sympathetic.”
The real “victims” in this tragedy, according to some white supremacists, were the white supremacists themselves—and their 2nd Amendment rights. Right-wing extremists frequently cast violent acts in the news as conspiracies and “false flag” operations intended to falsely cast blame on the extreme right, possibly as an excuse for some sort of crackdown. Roof, to many extremists, was just a pawn in a larger conspiracy--perhaps orchestrated by the Jews—to exacerbate racial tensions and deprive Americans of their guns. The true risk after a shooting like this, according to Daily Stormer poster Bennis Mardens, was that “the Jews” would respond by cracking down on gun ownership. “The kid is nuts,” Mardens wrote. “He’s not a ‘hero.’ He didn’t help our cause. Now the Jews will push for gun confiscation and more hate crimes legislation….Furthermore, not all black people hate white people. They ARE more tribal than we are, for sure, but their anger toward us is CAUSED by the Jew media and Jew academics.”
Brian Avran, a self-described National Socialist, raised the idea of “race war” in a June 18 Facebook post: “I smell a psyop/ government op. just like Sandy hook, Aurora and Columbine. This church shooting is what the media needs; a random act of white-on-black violence to push their hate whitey agenda, since an epidemic of black-on-white violence is happening every day, which goes unreported. ‘They’ want a race war. it might also be used as incentive for more gun control laws. “
“It didn't take long for the media to begin the race baiting with the Dylann Roof shooting,” wrote Stormfront member “stuck on stupid.” “This will be used to flame the fires of the on going race war. Please arm yourself and be prepared to defend your life at any moment.”