Back in April, South Carolina’s Governor defended the fact that South Carolina’s State Capitol flies the Confederate flag. Think about that for a second. A State Capitol, whose representatives are there to represent all citizens regardless of ethnicity, flies a flag that specifically represented the right of rich white men to own, to sell, to trade, to beat, to split families, of African Americans. A system of segregation that persisted for a century after the end of slavery, in which white supremacists flew that same flag in support of a system of racial segregation and supremacy that included hanging kids from trees because of the colour of their skin.
You might drive past that State Capitol that flies that hideous flag, as you make your way into Charleston, where a monument dedicated to the “Confederate defenders of South Carolina” (you know, those who fought to uphold a system of slavery) stands proudly in a park, which happens to be just a little further down the road from the AME Church which stands on a road in which a white supremacist is celebrated. Not the terrorist who shot dead 9 people because he dreams of a return to the Confederate days, no, the church sits on Calhoun Street, dedicated to John C. Calhoun who, in the 1850s, argued strongly in favour of the Fugitive Slave Act, requiring free states to capture runaway slaves and return them to their owners. On slavery itself, Calhoun said:
“Many in the South once believed that it was a moral and political evil; that folly and delusion are gone; we see it now in its true light, and regard it as the most safe and stable basis for free institutions in the world.”
– Calhoun was sure; For the basis of ‘free institutions’, African Americans must be enslaved. And South Carolina, in 2015 has just witnessed a mass shooting by a white supremacist in a church on a street named in Calhourn’s honour, whilst its State Capitol flies a Confederate flag. How is that not the biggest wake up call that America has to its quite obvious race problem.
How was it glossed over so effortlessly, that Rep. Steve Stockman (R) proudly invited Ted Nugent to the State of the Union a couple of years back, despite Nugent saying:
“I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.”
How was it glossed over so easily, when certain media outlets tried to justify the shooting to death of an unarmed Trayvon Martin, because of how he was dressed.
How did it take a Federal lawsuit in Georgia in 2012 – not 1865 – requiring Georgia strike down its ‘Stand your Ground’ law, because it didn’t specify what circumstances justified ‘standing your ground’. According to the lawsuit, courts in Georgia had:
“…accepted the race of a victim as evidence to establish the reasonableness of an individual’s fear in cases of justifiable homicide.”
– What this essentially means is, “I shot him, because I was scared, because he was black“. How, in a developed country that has one of the biggest economies on the planet, that enshrined Enlightenment values, are the Federal courts having to tell ex-Confederate States that it shooting someone because they’re not white, is not a ‘justifiable homicide‘?
How was it so under-reported, when On January 22nd 2013, whilst Sen. Henry Marsh (D) – a veteran of the Civil Rights era – was attending President Obama’s inauguration, Senate Republicans in the 20-20 split Virginia Senate sneaked through a redistricting bill essentially ensuring a Republican Senate in 2015. Republicans in the Senate went even further that day. Not only did they manipulate the absence of a civil rights veteran to ensure a majority in 2015… they called a halt to the day’s proceedings with the following announcement in the minutes of the day:
“On motion of Senator Stosch, the Senate adjourned in memory or [sic] General Thomas J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson at 4:10 p.m. to convene Tuesday, January 22, 2013″
– They called a halt to proceedings not because the President had just been re-inaugurated a day before, but instead to honour a Confederate general. Furthermore, Senator Henry Marsh was a lawyer during the Civil Rights days. His law practice focused on civil rights cases. At the same time, Virginia’s Republican Senators were organising resistance to desegregation. That was the 1960s. In 2013, the children of those Republicans use his absence to advance their cause, and pay their respects to a Confederate general.
It is simply unfathomable to me that the media response has been so desensitised to the romanticising of the Confederacy in 2015, that instead we focus on whether or not to label it ‘terrorism’; instead Fox spends an extraordinary amount of time attempting to imply an attack ‘Christianity; instead conservative commentators spend their time on social media more concerned that access to guns might be restricted given that it was so damn easy for a 21 year old white supremacist, wishing to start a race war to get his hands on one and commit a terrorist attack, than they do that nostalgia for the Confederacy that inspires such vicious racial hatred, is everywhere you turn your head.
The unimaginable horror that those people in that Church must have felt, the loss that the families have suffered and will now have to deal with through no fault of their own, did not come from nowhere, it isn’t just the mind of one angry kid who got hold of a gun, his motives were clear and they reflect the not-so-subtle romanticising of the Confederacy, its leaders, and its legacy. If racism in the United States is going to be taken seriously and addressed now that nine people were massacred, it is perhaps best not to continue flying the flag of the slave States above government buildings. As of today, the flag of the Confederacy still, despite the terrorist attack, flies at the South Carolina State Capitol.