Did Right-Wing Media Influence Dylann Roof?

06/22/2015 12:43 am ET | Updated Jun 21, 2016

The discovery of an apparent online manifesto by Dylann Roof, accused perpetrator of the self-declared racist massacre of nine blacks in a Charleston, S.C., church, shows Roof describing his path to embracing white supremacy:

The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right. But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words "black on White crime" into Google, and I have never been the same since that day. The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders. I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?

Where have we heard before that the death of Trayvon Martin was justified and blacks are nothing but thugs and criminals? On right-wing websites like WorldNetDaily.

WND columnist Jack Cashill has long been a stalwart defender of Martin's shooter, George Zimmerman, and a relentless trasher of Martin as nothing but a thug in training, as detailed in his WND-published book on the subject. The fact that Zimmerman has proven to be something of a habitual criminal, getting into more legal scrapes than Martin ever did, hasn't stopped Cashill from defending the guy, lionizing Zimmerman as a victim akin to Nelson Mandela and the falsely accused black man in "To Kill A Mockingbird."

Cashill is also something of a defender of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which began as a coalition of anti-integration groups in the South in the 1960s and which still promote a white nationalist agenda. In a July 2011 column, Cashill defended onetime WND birther darling Tim Adams after he appeared at a CofCC convention and spouted his discredited birther nonsense, insisting that the group was merely "paleo-conservative" and insisted that its website did not have the "racist language" critics claimed.

(That's technically true right now; after word of Roof's love of the organization surfaced, the CofCC has pulled its website offline, and CofCC spokesman Kyle Rogers deleted his Twitter account.)

For a source of Roof's concern about "black on White crime," one needs to go no further than Colin Flaherty. The author of the WND-republished book "White Girl Bleed A Lot" is so obsessed with "black mob violence" that he sees it everywhere, even when no blacks (or humans) are involved.

Oddly, WND seems to have dumped Flaherty as a regular contributor (right around the time that Google threatened to dump WND from its ad program after seeing how much the term "black mobs" appears on the website), so Flaherty is stuck self-publishing his new anti-black book, and he has to move even further down the right-wing media chain to find an outlet that will publish him.

That outlet is the American Thinker, which published Flaherty's June 19 piece insisting that despite the Charleston church massacre, the state is still filled with black people who want nothing more than to inflict violence on whites. "Violent crime in Charleston, like the rest of the country, is a black thing: Black on white violence is wildly out of proportion," Flaherty insists. "A black person is 50 times more likely to assault a white person than the other way around."

Roof's manifesto also invoked South Africa:

Some people feel as though the South is beyond saving, that we have too many blacks here. To this I say look at history. The South had a higher ratio of blacks when we were holding them as slaves. Look at South Africa, and how such a small minority held the black in apartheid for years and years. Speaking of South Africa, if anyone thinks that think will eventually just change for the better, consider how in South Africa they have affirmative action for the black population that makes up 80 percent of the population.

WND has as a weekly columnist, South Africa native Ilana Mercer, who still pines for the days of apartheid. It has long promoted the causes of racist Afrikaner white mercenaries in South Africa; more recently, it let pro-apartheid dead-enders opine on the death of Nelson Mandela.

Mercer's response to the revelation that Roof wore a patch of the apartheid-era South African flag was to first rant on her blog about how the media is "attempting to further marginalize the South African and Rhodesian white minorities," then by quoting a "corrective comment" by Dan Roodt, leader of a pro-Afrikaner group in South Africa. Neither Mercer nor Roodt mention the apartheid that Roof was presumably endorsing through his flag patch.

These are the kind of messages WND has been sending out over the years. It looks like, sadly, they have been received all too well by Dylann Roof.

Just as sadly, this wouldn't be the first time WND has apparently inspired a terrorist. The manifesto of Anders Breivik, who killed dozens in a 2009 massacre in Norway, cites WND six times and repeats the same anti-Islam, anti-feminist and anti-multiculturalism themes WND has regularly promoted.