So, It Was 'Black Metal' That Made The Nice White Boy Burn All Those Black Churches?
Holden Matthews, 21, was charged yesterday with allegedly setting fire to three historically black Louisiana churches: St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre on March 26, and Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas on April 2 and April 4. Burning churches usually means you're a racist white hood wannabe, just like the name "Holden" usually means you're full of yourself. However, authorities suspect the young man was led astray by "black metal." We should clarify for the Hannity-viewing grandmothers out there that "black metal" is not actually a "black" thing. Until a record company signs Candace Owens, black people would never sing (approvingly) about burning our own churches.
"We are still vetting several motives, however we do have information investigators uncovered and that Matthews had offered, connecting him to black metal music," [Louisiana Fire Marshall Butch] Browning said. "It has an association in history with church burnings in other parts of the world."
Matthews was reportedly active in pagan and black metal Facebook pages. Specifically, he'd commented on memes about metal musician Varg Vikernes. Despite the awesome name, Vikernes is a Neo-Nazi scumbag who served time for burning churches in Norway and, oh, stabbing to death Mayhem guitarist Euronymous. So many great names ... so much needless bloodshed. This is apparently how Matthews was radicalized. He was exposed to racists from faraway lands where breakfast is served with a sliver of cheese but no biscuits. But for "black metal," an innocent white kid who grew up in a former Confederate state where "everything that could be segregated was" would never have targeted black houses of worship.
The NAACP however suspects the motive for these crimes is not found in northern Europe but in American history, as well as current US politics.
"Since [Donald] Trump has taken office, we've seen a rise in white supremacy and hate crimes – so much so that we issued letters to push both the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees of the House of Representatives to hold hearings for the resurgence of hate and raced-based crimes that are overcoming the nation."
Church burnings are historically a form of domestic terrorism -- far more severe than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggesting Americans reduce their meat consumption. Besides, if Matthews was just expressing his contempt for God and organized religion, there are plenty of white churches in the state. Black people make up 32 percent of Louisiana's population, but we're not the only Christian game in town. The black church is also the true "Christian left." So-called Christians would burn black churches because they knew we weren't just praising and testifying -- although there was an awful lot of that. It was where movements were built and put in action.
Matthews is the son of a local deputy, whom St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz describes as one of his "best friends." The press conference about Matthews's arrest went into great, tedious detail over his father's personal suffering as every black person present barely hid their annoyance.
GUIDROZ: As we all know, Holden's father is an employee of mine, a fine man.... He knew nothing... nothing ... about his son's activities. And when we had to call in him. And we sat him down. And told him what we wanted him here for. He broke down.... He was shocked and hurt as any father would be ... He was in terrible shape."
Speaking as a father, no one wants to learn their son enjoys Viking death metal or that it's even a real thing. We presume he was also broken up over his son's white supremacy.
GUIDROZ: [Matthews's father] helped to facilitate the arrest, to get the suspect away from home so he wouldn't be injured in the event that we had to maybe use force.
Did they stop for a burger on the way? Yeah, you don't want to muss up the racist arsonist's hair. Can't imagine similar treatment for a Muslim kid who burned down white churches. Fox News would also have already devoted their entire lineup to explaining why the Muslim kid's parents are truly to blame. They probably had matches in the house and at one point explained to him how fire works.
Matthews is charged with three counts of simple arson. They each carry a maximum sentence of 15 years. The FBI is currently investigating this as a possible hate crime, but really, what else could it be -- self-inflicted immolation? Were the churches depressed?
Gov. John Bel Edwards called the fires a reminder of "a very dark past of intimidation and fear." But as Faulkner might say, in Trump's America, "the past is never dead. It's not even past."
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).