The last we checked in with celebrated PBS journalist, newscaster, and occasional debate moderator Gwen Ifill, she was tweeting to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu her thoughts on the soon-to-be-approved Iranian nuclear agreement.
That “inadvertent” poke in Twitter’s eye and the amusement she seemed to glean from it is difficult to forget when Ifill is tackling a project like “America After Charleston,” which aired tonight on PBS. Charleston, obviously, is a reference to the horrific mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Baptist Church that left nine dead. White supremacist Dylann Roof was captured and taken into custody.
Liberal outlets like Salon knew immediately where to point the finger, penning thought pieces like, “White America must answer for the Charleston church massacre.” Organizers of a vigil for the “Charleston 9” in Harlem burned American flags and read from the works of cop-killer Assata Shakur.
That was the immediate response. Given the shooting occurred in June and PBS taped its town hall in September, would there be a more thoughtful, considered response under the moderation of impartial journalist Ifill? Or would the blame fall anywhere but on Roof?
Thanks, Obama! And this has what to do with Roof and the Charleston shooting?
Audience member Andra Gillespie penned an opinion piece to accompany Monday night’s broadcast, entitled, “Don’t confuse forgiveness in Charleston with forgiveness for racism”:
The best way for us as a nation to honor the victims of the Mother Emanuel shooting is to do more than just pat ourselves on the back because their relatives took the bold, courageous and painful step of publicly starting their personal healing process. Their personal journey is not our collective journey. Our task is to interrogate the systems, institutions and practices that taught Dylann Roof that he should be superior to blacks because of the color of his skin. Our task is to reform an educational system that failed Roof and many others by not teaching them to be more discerning of historical perspectives that fail to tell the truth or the whole story.
And if we don’t? “…then sadly, we doom ourselves to have to repeat this kind of forum later.”