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The Dark History of Race and Terror

When the news broke Wednesday night of the horrific massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, from the start people asked why this crime, which would have been labeled "terrorism" if the killer had been a Muslim, is merely a "hate crime" or the work of a deranged madman since the murderer is white. It's a very good question and people are right to ask it. I think the word "terrorism", as we've come to use it, is so clumsy that it might be better to retire the word altogether. But as long as we do use it, it definitely makes sense to apply the label to this crime. But there's another meaning of the term, or another history, that I think helps us understand much more of the past and the present of what happened Wednesday night in Charleston.

You've probably heard of The Citadel, one of the most storied military academies in the United States, which is located in Charleston. As Benjamin Parks explains in this piece from yesterday, the origins of The Citadel are directly linked to the reaction to the Denmark Vesey slave conspiracy that rocked the city in 1822. As you've probably also seen in the news coverage over the last two days, Vesey was one of the founders of the Emanuel AME Church. Nor is this connection between The Citadel and the attempted Vesey uprising some coincidence or oddity. It is a particular connection that illustrates a greater and sobering truth: the Southern military tradition, whatever it has evolved into in more recent history, has its roots in the institution of and particularly the preservation of slavery. Whether it is slave patrols, militias focused on putting down slave revolts or musters intended to overawe subject populations - while no institution has a single origin, this basic fact about the history of the American South is unquestionably true. It is particularly so about South Carolina.

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Chat with Gayle Lemmon, Middle East Policy Expert

Gayle Lemmon, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a New York Times bestselling author, will be chatting in The Hive (sub req) at 3 PM EST Tuesday, June 23rd. She has written two books about women in the Middle East. Her most recent, Ashley's War, tells the story of female soldiers who ran special ops missions in Afghanistan.

Gayle will be answering questions about Middle East policy and national security, as well as her books, in a live chat with Prime subscribers. Drop questions here at or before 3 PM EST on Tuesday 6/23!

No Jokes

Jon Stewart: "I honestly have nothing, other than just sadness once again that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other and the nexus of a just gaping racial wound that will not heal yet we pretend doesn't exist. I'm confident though that by acknowledging it, by staring into that and seeing it for what it is, we still won't do jack shit. Yeah. That's us."

Juneteenth and How Slavery Really Ended

This story is, painfully, much more timely than when we first assigned it. But it's a must-read on several levels. Tomorrow is Juneteenth - a predominantly African-American holiday commemorating the end of slavery - and the 150th anniversary of the event it celebrates, the arrival of the US Army at Galveston Island on June 19th 1865. Read this piece and it will change your understanding of just how slavery really ended and why.

Obama: 'This Is A Sacred Place'

Obama's remarks on the Charleston church shooting were pained and angry. As I indicated earlier, he put the shooting into the larger historic context of this particular church's role in the civil rights movement, of violence against black churches generally, and of the scourge of gun violence in America. Watch.