WASHINGTON, June 19, 2015 — In his classic true-crime book “Helter Skelter,” former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi wrote of the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders:
That Manson foresaw a war between the blacks and the whites was not fantastic. Many people believed that such a war may someday occur. What was fantastic was that he was convinced he could personally start that war himself—that by making it look as if blacks had murdered the seven Caucasian victims he could turn the white community against the black community.
Mass-shooting suspect Dylann Roof may succeed where Charlie Manson failed. According to police, Roof, 21, entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., where congregants were partaking in Bible study and prayer.
They even asked the young stranger to join them in Christian fellowship.
Roof instead raised his .45-caliber handgun and started shooting. When he was told to stop, Roof said, “No, you’ve raped our women, and you are taking over the country … I have to do what I have to do.”
Roof shot and killed nine churchgoers.
Most remember the horrific murders perpetrated by Manson’s “family” of drug-addled followers. But most forget the racist motives behind their mayhem.
Manson was convinced the Beatles’ White Album contained songs with messages specifically meant for him. He “figured the Beatles were programming the black people to get up, get it on, start doing it [rise up against the whites],” Paul Watkins, a Manson Family member told Bugliosi.
Four years earlier, in 1965, police stopped Marquette Frye, a black motorist, on suspicion of drunk driving at the corner of Avalon Boulevard and 116th Street in South Central Los Angeles. The predominantly African-American witnesses to the incident believed the cops were harassing the driver and his passengers because of their race.
“The crowd watching the arrest of the black family by white officers soon swelled to 1,000, with young black men, many shirtless, hurling rocks at officers,” said the Associated Press.
Six days later, 50 square miles of the city were scarred by fire and looting, 34 lay dead, 1,032 were injured and 4,000 sat behind bars. The cost to the city was estimated to be $40 million.
I still remember passing armed National Guardsmen stationed in downtown L.A. as my father and I drove to fetch my mother at her job. President Lyndon Johnson had deployed 16,000 Guardsmen to quell what became known as the Watts Riots.
A few years earlier, a community organizer came to town. “You’ve got some Gestapo tactics being practiced by the police department in this country against 20 million black people,” said Malcom X, “not only down South but up North. Los Angeles isn’t down South. Los Angeles isn’t in Mississippi.”
Manson hoped to fan the flames of racial tension with his heinous murders on the hills above Benedict Canyon. “The revolution has leaders in every country in every generation,” he told authors Mark Hewitt and Guillermo Mendez from his prison cell at California’s Corcoran State Penitentiary.
“They go by different names, but the message is the same, whether they were called Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, Hugo Chavez … Malcom X, Luis Farrakhan, Chairman Mao, Fidel Castro, Pancho Villa, Benito Juarez, or Emilio Zapata. The list of people goes on and on. The faces are many, but the cause is the same. The establishment has always exploited the poor and thrived off the blood, sweat, and lives of the old and young. The powerful springboard their careers, lacing their pockets with the money better spent to help the poor get a decent education, or help the farmer to modernize his farming equipment. If they choose, they could build hospitals, schools, houses, roads and bridges. They could clean up our rivers, beaches, air and soil. Instead, the politicians elected into office do nothing, even though they could make some difference because they have the platform to do so.”
In other words, the Mexican, Chinese and Cuban revolutions, racial strife and riots and the mutilation of actress Sharron Tate and her unborn baby were acts of social justice designed to usher in a brave new world.
Instead of bringing utopia on earth, these secular revolutionaries left a trail of death and destruction in their wake.
Like Manson, the Charleston shooter saw himself as something of a community organizer. “He said he wanted to start a civil war,” his roommate Dalton Tyler told ABC News.
But something got lost amid the calls for more stringent gun control and shouts of “No justice, no peace!” The voices of our increasingly secular society forgot that members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church performed the ultimate revolutionary act before their deaths.
They reached out “to whosoever will” the hand of friendship and brotherhood. Race didn’t factor in at all.
“Love your enemies,” said Christ. “Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you … Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
They saw Dylann Roof as a friend. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Transcending the malicious side of our natures, Christ understood, was a difficult and dangerous choice. “Take up thy cross and follow me” is a daunting command to Christian followers.
In his autobiography, Malcom X said he was amazed that “the black man in white Christian hands has not grown violent.” The same year Watts was rocked by riots, armed black men from the Nation of Islam gunned down Malcom X in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom.
Perpetual resentment, and the hate it breeds, eventually consumes itself, occasionally taking with it the good.