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© Jack Cashill - June 23, 2015 

Exclamation point of surprise! I had no intention of commenting on the recent shooting at a Charleston, South Carolina, church. There were two good reasons why. One was that I have always found it unseemly to exploit a genuine tragedy, especially before the bodies are buried and the event gains some historical perspective.

The second was that the act was so anomalous. In the highly racialized Obama era there have been several black shooters who turned their wrath on multiple non-black victims —California’s Christopher Dorner, the Navy Yard’s Aaron Alexis, Omar Thornton in Hartford—but I could recall no instance in my lifetime in which a white shooter had done the same to black victims. I was not sure what useful generalization I could pull from so rare a phenomenon.

Alas, the Huffington Post, in the person of veteran propagandist Terry Krepel, forced my hand. In an article published Monday, “ Did Right-Wing Media Influence Dylann Roof?,” Krepel cites me first and foremost among Roof’s influences. For the record, he also cites WND and the American Thinker.

As proof of my guilt, Krepel quotes a passage from Roof’s manifesto. “The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case,” Roof writes. “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.”

“Where have we heard before that the death of Trayvon Martin was justified,” asks Krepel, “and blacks are nothing but thugs and criminals?” Before proceeding further, I have to ask, who anywhere ever said or implied that “blacks are nothing but thugs and criminals?” Are there no editors at the Huffington Post? No libel lawyers?

"Scarlet Letters: The Ever-Increasing Intolerance of the Cultural Left"If the reader is wondering what kind of pathology drives a person to write a sentence so obviously twisted, he or she can find the answer in my soon to be released book, Scarlet Letters: The Ever-Increasing Intolerance of the Cultural Left.

Krepel, unfortunately, could be the poster child for a new and dangerous breed of zealots I call “neo-puritans.” If the adultery charge against the Scarlet Letter’s Hester Prynne was valid, the charges against sinners today rarely ever are. “Even when you have no idea you’re committing a hate crime, chances are you still are,” Mark Steyn opined after Canadian neo-puritans dragged him before that nation’s official inquisitors.

Neo-puritans exaggerate the sins of the targeted or concoct them out of whole cloth. In either case, like Hawthorne’s Puritans, they publicly brand the sinner to render him or her, in Hawthorne’s words, “the general symbol at which the preacher and moralist might point.”

"If I Had a Son" by Jack Cashill. Click here to order.In an appalling rush to judgment, the media slapped George Zimmerman with a Scarlet R for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, and now Krepel slaps me with one for defending him in my book If I Had A Son. In one of the more egregious guilt-by-association gambits in recent memory, Krepel then links my defense of a transparently innocent man to the Charleston shooting. Let me ask again, “Does the Huffington have no editors? No lawyers?”

Krepel takes particular offense that I challenged Zimmerman’s Scarlet R. My most grievous sin was to say in a TV interview that prosecuting Zimmerman on civil rights charges "would be like going after Nelson Mandela on civil rights, or Mother Theresa.”

There was a reason I said this, one that the major media, let alone Krepel, have refused to acknowledge. A year ago, the Florida courts denied Zimmerman the right to sue NBC for libel. The reason cited was that Zimmerman made himself a public figure by "voluntarily injecting his views into the public controversy surrounding race relations and public safety in Sanford.”

Zimmerman “injected his views” by working with the NAACP to launch a public protest over the failure of the Sanford Police Department to arrest the son of a white officer who had beaten a homeless black man.

Unfortunately for Zimmerman, his work on behalf of the homeless man, Sherman Ware, was not nearly “public” enough to stop the media from branding him. I could find almost no mention of this character-defining event in the major media, not even in the book NBC’s legal analyst Lisa Bloom wrote about the case, Suspicion Nation.

Denying him his past, the media have continued to portray Zimmerman as an angry, mean-spirited racist. To accomplish this, they ignore much in addition to Zimmerman’s work with the NAACP on the Sherman Ware case. This includes the exhaustive FBI report that cleared him of the racism charge; his mentoring of two black teens; his black prom date; his black great grandfather; his Peruvian mother; his support for Barack Obama. To Krepel and progressive neo-puritans like him, Zimmerman’s history matters no more than does his innocence. He is nothing more, says Krepel, than a “habitual criminal.”

With little resistance from their passive co-religionists, the neo-puritans have made themselves the punitive arm of the progressive movement.

Over time, they have shown less interest in celebrating the many colors of the multicultural rainbow than they have in condemning those who resisted the celebration. The accusers insist that resistance is born out of hatred--of blacks, of gays, of immigrants, of Muslims, of women, of poor people, even, yes, of mother earth. “Hate” stands as the umbrella sin for all dissenters.

Indeed, if there is one shared ritual among the progressive subcults, it is the imputation of “hate” to the less enlightened. And as those of us on the right know, there is no surer way of being branded hateful than by telling the truth.

Hawthorne described his seventeenth century ancestors as “being of the most intolerant brood that ever lived.” As Krepel proves anew, Hawthorne’s Puritans were the picture of tolerance compared to the neo-puritans who flourish today. And they were a hell of a lot more honest.

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