Fox News Uses Charleston Shootings to Propagate Culture War

In a move disturbing to even the most cynical critics of the network, Fox News has begun to use the recent tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina, in which an apparent white supremacist committed a mass killing of nine black men and women in a historically black church, as “proof” of the ongoing victimization of Christians.

On a segment discussing the hate crime during Fox & Friends, the hosts frame the event not as an attack on the black community, but as “a horrifying attack on faith.” The hosts even expressed their disbelief that civil rights organizations and advocates were claiming a racial motive, stating “extraordinarily they called it a hate crime.” Indeed, most of the segment focused on what host Steve Doocy called “hostility towards Christians” and recommendations for religious leaders to carry weapons in their houses of worship.

While this case is still developing, it’s important to look at the available facts. The shooter was quoted by a witness to the killings as stating, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” Photos of the alleged shooter online depict him wearing clothing featuring the flags of two extremely racist government regimes, that of apartheid-era South Africa and of the Republic of Rhodesia. And black churches have long been targets of racist violence over decades in the United States—Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in particular “has a history of civil rights activism and has long been one of the most prominent historic black churches in the South.”

How any honest observer at this point could discount race entirely as a motivation for the shootings, and insert a religious motive in its place, is hard to conceive. But Fox News, in its misguided effort to downplay the wave of racial tension sweeping the nation in favor of something more palatable to its conservative viewers, did just that.

It’s ironic that Fox News is acting in this manner when many of the religious institutions and individuals they are supposedly trying to court with this imbalanced coverage seem to be on the other side of the issue. In an attempt to breed unity and enact reform in the criminal justice system in the wake of the Eric Garner killing, Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said that “a government that can choke a man to death on video for selling cigarettes is not a government living up to a biblical definition of justice or any recognizable definition of justice. We may not agree in this country on every particular case and situation, but it’s high time we start listening to our African-American brothers and sisters in this country when they tell us they are experiencing a problem.”

That statement was in stark contrast to the Southern Baptists of old who allowed slaveholders to serve as Christian ministers and initially opposed some methods of desegregation. Many religious institutions have similarly evolved with the times, but it seems as though Fox News is unwilling to join any call for positive action on race relations, deciding instead to whip up fervor among extremist Christians who feel “victimized” when they’re unable to use faith as a tool for discrimination.

With their so-called “War on Christmas” becoming less relevant every year, Fox News is opening up a new front in the culture war. While the targets were usually atheists who felt ostracized by ongoing attempts to seek government endorsement of religion, the targets in this instance are a community that is under constant attack by racists and discriminatory institutions. By dissuading their viewers from becoming informed about racial violence in America they open the door for more hate. Instead, we need a sober, informed look at the challenges before us. Only then can we hope to reform the problems that exist within both our society and our government when it comes to race.

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  • Can we all just agree that the best thing we can do in reaction to this horrible, senseless tragedy is to draw Mohammed?

    • ButtersStoch

      Pushing the limits of Poe’s Law?

  • Edmund Burke

    The harm that FOX News is doing to American society is immeasureable. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, they pound out their anger at perceived injustices. They get so many people all pissed off and full of hostility to anything that doesn’t fit the litmus test of fundamentalists, a/k/a the Tea Party. They are a disgrace to the American values of tolerance and working together for the common good. We should be concerned about what they are doing.

    • Paul Schmeer

      They should loose their FCC license. They are more interested in mis-informing than informing.

      • Fullerene

        Fox News is a cable network, not an over-the-air broadcast network. They answer to no one.

        • Paul Schmeer

          Okay then, just denaturalize Rupert Murdoch’s US citizenship.

        • Patricia Esposito


      • shannon oakley

        FOX is labeled as “satire” by the FCC. They can run amok with lies under the guise as “news” and get away with it.

    • Togo

      Curious…do you believe the same about MSNBC and CNN and all the rest?

    • Yehuda Levi

      As a humanist, I don’t believe in groupthink of any kind – including political groupthink.

      All human beings are entitled to their opinions; it is called freedom of thought. One is not immoral because they have a different opinion – they just have a different opinion. We should cherish the diversity of thought. It makes us better.

      All human beings should have the right to freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Religious beliefs are just ideologies like any other ideology. Being a humanist does not mean that one cannot believe in other ideologies.

      • claynaff

        Stated in the abstract, your platitudes may seem cogent, but we add content to them it will quickly be apparent that, if true at all, they are true only in limited cases. For example, would you endorse any of these? “One is not immoral because they are a Nazi – they just have a different opinion.” “The Salafist beliefs of ISIS are just ideologies like any other ideology.” “Being a humanist does not mean that one cannot believe in fundamentalist Christianity.”

        • Yehuda Levi

          What is moral or immoral will always be debatable with a few exceptions.

          In my mind, ideologies are not moral or immoral, actions are moral or immoral. The human mind is capable of all kinds of strange and disturbing thoughts that some people would consider to be immoral.

          Freedom of thought says you have the right to be a racist if that is what you choose to believe. Morality dictates that you cannot discriminate against people based on the color of their skin in your actions – not your thoughts.

  • Steve Moser


    • DougJ6767

      You mean white people? See above…

  • Paul Schmeer

    Fox News is run by international capitalists (Saudi & Australian) who don’t give a damn about the USA, just how many eyes they can catch and how much money they generate.

    • Terry Hill

      Wrong, Paul. The only Australian connection is where Murdoch was born. He is a naturalised US citizen (he renounced his Australian citizenship to do so). NewsCorp is listed on the US NYSE. Profits are kept in the US. It’s US-based greed powering this nonsence.
      And by the way, his FoxNews affiliates here don’t spout the same vitriol as they do in the US. They are playing to their audience.

  • Betty Eyer

    They’ve done some despicable things, but this takes the cake!

  • rejectrepublicanlies

    “Fox News” is a Right Wing propaganda network peddling hate, conspiracy theories and catering to a ignorant, violent, unstable, homophobic and racist audience. They are incredibly dangerous because they agitate and manipulate their dim-witted audience.

    • SNinNC

      You go ahead and keep getting your news from MSNBC and Salon.

  • Dionesio Grava

    Edmund Burke says: ” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, they pound out their anger at perceived injustices.” Obviously, Edmund Burke doesn’t watch Fox News. I do in the same manner that I watch MNBC, Al Jazeera, CNN and other news networks. Just like the other networks Fox News consists of many segments/programs. It’s not all commentaries which, of course, entitle the hosts to state their opinions.

    • Jon H

      A lie is not an opinion.

  • Patricia Esposito

    I hardly watch MSNBC now since the way they handled the Michael Brown shooting, they don’t spew bold faced lies like FOX, but they seem to show only one side in that story, so I watch CNN mostly, and their far from perfect. ..What I can’t understand is how on earth the Fox audience could take what this kid did, and believe the BS, that this was done because they were Christians, after the kid admitted he wanted to kill black people and start a race war, Fox viewers should be insulted that Fox thinks their that stupid.

  • Marvin Umbras

    Stop watching, block the channel on your remote, don’t allow it to be seen or heard. Think of it has porn and hate mongering.