Charleston Shooting and the Multiple Choice Public Response

Another mass-shooting, another 24 hour news cycle where everyone blames their pet issue of choice. In order to quickly facilitate a rousing OT discussion on the subject I thought I would provide this handy list of probable causes for the tragedy. Just pick the answer that best fits how you feel about the shooting and share your opinion. Outrage is easy! Talking makes us feel better! If only bloggers could run the world!     *sigh*    Get off my porch.

A) Confederate Flags Should Not Be Flown in Public

B) Guns are Bad

C) Mental Health Issues Are Serious

D) Racism is Still a Problem in the US

E) Some Combination of A, B, C & D

F) Other

 

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353 thoughts on “Charleston Shooting and the Multiple Choice Public Response

  1. Another conservative sees a mass murder by a crazy person trying to incite a civil war, and insists it must be treated as an inconceivable one-off tragedy that tells us nothing about systematic problems in our society.

    Our rate of mass shootings is accelerating, and is totally unlike any other society on earth. No other civilized society glories in its racist past by treating a flag of rebellion and terrorism as a cherished symbol.

    When this happens next (a few weeks? a month? two?) will you again wonder why people think there is a root problem (or several) that is worth addressing?

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  2. Mike, in many cases when something big happens people do fit it into their belief system. But sometimes those big things are easily, very easily, seen as just one more bit of evidence for a problem they have seen. It’s not like mass shootings are a new thing. Any one of the issues you listed could easily fit a new data point without stress.

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  3. Oh good. Let’s shut down any debate on at topic about which I feel uncomfortable with a good old dose of snark.

    This is right up there with the idiots who say that we shouldn’t discuss the causes of mass shootings immediately following mass shootings because we are all too “emotional”.

    Nice

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    • Well, to be fair, putting up a post with open comments underneath it, where people can debate, is pretty much the opposite of “shutting down debate”.

      That said – and as much as I understand anyone’s (on any side’s) frustration with seeing the usual debates play out yet again, with the usual players staking out their usual positions one more time – IMO the OP comes across as needlessly petty and provocative in the wake of the events that prompted it, even though it kind of acknowledges same in the FP blurb and OP body.

      There’s a very Southern saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”, and it strikes me that this might have been a good time to heed that wisdom. Maybe one way individual people deal with their emotions and impotence to (realistically) do much to actually change the specific situation, IS by jawing about well-worn hobbyhorses.

      As long as no one is being harmed by that, perhaps it’s best just to step back and let them vent.

      ETA – to clarify, only the first para of my comment was to . The rest was really to .

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    • “…idiots who say that we shouldn’t discuss the causes of mass shootings immediately following mass shootings…”

      In fairness, I don’t think this is the result of idiocy. I think it is a cynical ploy to delegitimize the discussion before it happens.

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  4. Mike is just rather all upset that non-Southerners don’t “respect his authoritah”

    The Civil War was about slavery. The Civil War was about the desire of the South to keep slavery as a legal institution for as long as possible.

    Here is an image of a Confederate Flag license plate with a picture of George Wallace in the center:

    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/174_2317_1_lg.jpeg

    This is George Wallace who said “Segregation Now. Segregation Tomorrow. Segregation Forever.” This is the George Wallace who stood on the steps of the University of Alabama in order to block the Federal Government from Integrating the Institution.

    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/174_2317_1_lg.jpeg

    “Heritage, Not Hate” is a matter of extreme cognitive dissonance.

    Jesse and Nevermoor are right. This is all true, no matter how much you dislike it.

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  5. D, A, B, C in that order:

    D: We DO have a problem with race, and its regressing.

    A: The Confederate flag IS the symbol of American apartheid, and every more strongly tied to it.

    B: Guns have become the cause celebre of the right wing, and have become intertwined with white ethnic privilege; white people can brandish assault rifles in public with impunity, while black people get shot for merely holding a toy gun.

    C: We use the streets and jails as mental facilities, and prefer to ignore the problem rather than deal with it.

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      • Yes. The flag stands for what it stands for (treason and terrorism). When flown by an individual, that’s disgusting (but free speech for which they should receive no state-issued penalty). When flown by the state itself, it’s a whole different thing.

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      • There are plenty of racists in states that proudly fought for the Union during the Civil War.

        What I do think is true is that the Confederate Flag has partially transformed into a universal symbol for the rural, white, working class. There are places in rural Canada where you can see the Confederate Flag. I think a lot of rural, white, conservatives know that the Confederate Flag annoys a lot of liberals and they fly it accordingly.

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        • Wearing white robes and burning crosses would annoy liberals too, but nobody gets a free pass on that any of those things by saying “I was just doing it to get a rise out of the liberals.”

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            • Fair – I agree there are probably people who recognize that liberals are offended by the racism inherent in displaying the flag, and, use it for the effect of offending liberals with that racism, without necessarily caring one way or another about the racism itself.

              They may not particularly care about the racism – but that not caring, that ability to sleep at night knowing they’re daily waving a symbol of slavery in the face of every black person in sight, because the feelings of black people are so far down their list of priorities that they’re eclipsed by the petty pleasure of pissing off liberals, is itself profoundly racist.

              The alternative is of course that they’re just that stupid that they don’t even realize it’s a symbol of slavery, and perhaps some of those actions are attributable to Hanlon’s Razor.

              So, I guess that’s a long way of saying that I agree it may well have taken on a secondary meaning, but that’s only possible among racists and in a profoundly racist milieu.

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    • LWA: D: We DO have a problem with race, and its regressing.

      I agree with the first part of that sentence wholeheartedly, but you’d have to do a lot of work to convince me of the second, Charleston and cop violence notwithstanding.

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    • So,

      A. I am pretty sure that the Confed. flag is covered under the first amendment. And if something was going to be done about it, that time passed about 150 years ago. As of now, banning it would simply dig in resistance regarding it’s use. Don’t think that is what you are looking for.

      B. As for gun control, popularity for it waxes and wanes. And as with all super controversial legislative ideas, I rather doubt that anything will happen right now. You can try, but I don’t recall anything happening post Sandy Hook either.

      C. Absolutly agree with you here, so what are the solutions you have? Something could have been done with the ACA, but that window is closed. And what would be that wouldn’t run afoul of the Community Mental Health Act, passed by Kennedy?

      If you want to deal with the Flag issue, I always thought that assimilating it would work best. Have every African America politician, performer, personallity, etc. start wearing it. Make it yours. That will at least blunt the racist overtones of it, and change its meaning.

      As for gun control, baring a major mood swing in the country, the left is going to have to put something on the table to eliminate the distrust of much of the populous to make this happen. And I am not joking about it being the left, as right now it is simply status quo and that favors gun owners.

      If we want to make real, impactful changes to what is going on right now, real thought needs to be put into it and what can actually be done, as opposed to screaming that people who don’t agree with you are bigots simply pushing a narrative.

      We need to stop tilting at windmills.

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      • It is beneficial to change our culture to be one in which the Confederate flag and those who fly it are mocked, ridiculed and marginalized. To make it as socially unacceptable to display it as the swastika.

        I personally think we need to begin a long march towards repealing the 2nd Amendment. As with the other long marches of justice, we start by demanding people justify its existence and force the issue to the surface, again and again. I start by asserting that there is no assumptive moral right to even own a gun, much less carry one.

        Changing culture is done by making people uncomfortable, by forcing the issue to the surface, by refusing to accept the status quo peaceably.

        There aren’t any silver bullets, there aren’t any quick fixes or magic “win-win” solutions where no one gets hurt.

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      • I don’t deny that the Confederate Flag is first-Amendment protected. At least when flown or worn by private individuals. I might look askance and keep a distance from someone with a Confederate Flag tattoo or patch but I am not going to call for their arrest and punishment.

        That being said, I still think it is a symbol of racism and white supremacy and it is frustrating when people constantly downplay the Slavery aspect to the Civil War.

        This is a quote from the Designer of the second flag of the Confederacy:

        “Our idea is simply to combine the present battle-flag with a pure white standard sheet…. As a people, we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause.”

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      • Christ.

        A: THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA FLIES IT. No one is trying to ban the thing, or take it from individuals. They’re trying to get the government itself to take the damn thing down. “Assimilation” is just plain nutty. It’s the flag that was created to identify soldiers who committed treason over the mere possibility that a new president would free slaves. It’s the flag that was flown over the institutionalized and private violence that continued to enforce a lack of freedom for another hundred years afterwards. Why on earth would people want to assimilate that?

        B: New rule, I guess, no talking about legislative policies that are unlikely to pass. Your analysis is probably right, but that sucks and is part of the reason we’ll be doing this again in a month or two. And what does “put something on the table to eliminate the distrust of much of the populous” mean? 47% want more strict laws, 14 want less strict laws.

        C: There are any number of ideas out there (free healthcare for all, dramatically increasing investment in mental health treatment, improved transition services out of homelessness or jail, etc.) but they cost money which requires taxes so are unlikely to happen.

        We need to keep pushing to make our country better.

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        • My point is that we need to look at things that can actually pass, and/or will do good. 47% may want stricter gun laws, but 14% want looser and 38% want the same. Also, that 47% is dropping, and while it might rise up after this weeks horrors, well, how has gun control been as an issue for the left? And with stronger protections such as Heller and MacDonald in place there is quite a bit of work if you do want to change that.

          As for the flag, there is too much talk about it being a symbol of <a href=" gingergene, “>treason and I don’t think it helps. Much of the chattering classes have been shitting on the south for over 200 years and it hasn’t put a dent on its feelings of isolation within the greater USA. Nor has it drastically changed the feelings of its peoples. I put out some sort of idea that I think would help with out running afoul of the law or hardening resistance to it, so what do you think would help with that?

          Overall, I think honest dialog will help. But I don’t think you can have that when you have posts such as Mikes that we are talking in, or posts such as Tods I understand both authors frustration, but they expressed it in ways That Do Not Help.

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          • I’m not interested in sparing the feelings of people who whitewash the horrors of the Confederacy.

            There was a time, back in the Dukes of Hazzard days, when as a Californian I viewed the flag as a harmless cultural tic, the scrappy resistance to urbanization thing.
            But as time goes on, I realize those who fly it take it seriously.

            They are the ones who erect monuments to the founder of the KKK, who cherish the Lost Cause, who take every opportunity to disenfranchise black people from voting, who defend vociferously every police shooting of a black man.

            If it seems like people are shitting all over The South, its because The South is what these people use as a shield so we can’t shit on them. Like Lindsey Graham today telling us the flag is “who we are”.

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            • I would also add that it doesn’t matter how the flag waver means it, or how you or I think of it. Just like it doesn’t matter what white Washington Redskins fans think about the offensiveness of their team mascot. Or, you know, that evil red/white/black logo that caused a LOT fewer American deaths than the Confederate flag did.

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              • The Confederate Flag stopped being flown 10 years and was replaced with a non-offensive ‘Southern Pride’ flag…is this shooting less likely to have happened?

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                • Don’t know. Doing that would certainly have removed a sign of state-support for the wrong side of the Civil War. And I certainly believe that impressionable kids are more likely to adopt racist beliefs when those beliefs are the accepted norm than when they are culturally reviled.

                  So maybe. But maybe not. What odds do I need to make it a good thing to remove?

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                  • But if we’re ranking the likely causes for this shooting, how high on the list is, “SC still flies the Stars and Bars”?

                    This isn’t about minimizing the possible impact, it’s about looking for true root cause. If we did a 5 Why on this I doubt the flag would make the cut and yet it seems to be dominating this conversation so far.

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                    • How high does it need to be? I’ll claim two things: (1) a decision to stop officially sanctioning the flag reduces the odds of racist hate-crimes by > 0%; (2) that reduction is sufficient to mandate the action to stop doing so.

                      Also, I’d be interested in your 5 Why analysis, since you seem to think it is none of the things people are talking about.

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                • In this case, the answer actually is “that’s not out of the question.” When celebration of the Confederacy has public and official sanction, we should not be surprised if it turns out that some people are more easily encouraged to celebrate the actual ideology at the core of the Confederacy rather than just its mythology.

                  The words “slave,” “slavery,” and “slaveholding” appear 18 times in the South Carolina secession resolution. The words “tariff” and “tax” appear a combined total of 1 time – and that one time just sets forth that slavery is justified because the slaveholding states were taxed for 3/5 of their slaves.

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          • I’m sorry you don’t think it helps to call something what it is. I don’t think it helps to forget that a collection of states went to war (killing more Americans than all other US wars combined through some point in Vietnam) to preserve their right to own other people as property. I also don’t think it helps to forget that the very same flag was flown by segregationists, terrorists, and other horrible factions to justify continuing black oppression.

            If that makes you feel bad, tough. Facts is facts.

            If you want to be proud of the South, fine. Wave a SEC flag, design a new flag, do something else. But don’t waive a flag born in treason and tell everyone else they have to pretend the flag doesn’t have that history because of your delicate “feelings of isolation.” Because that’s crap.

            On the gun control question, I think gun control is often a good issue for democrats locally but rarely nationally because of the over-representation of sparsely-populated territories in national politics, because the NRA is quite an effective lobbying arm for gun manufacturers, and because the second amendment provides a strong legal hook for pro-gun arguments (though I personally think it means much less than the NRA does). I think guns are so out of control in this country that basically any proposal would do good (satisfying your criteria). I’ve had discussions on this board before about my personal ideas, which largely focus on making gun owners liable for damage done by their guns, but my sense is that the GOP is a flat no on literally any conceivable restriction.

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            • If you want to be proud of the South, fine. Wave a SEC flag, design a new flag, do something else.

              Like the song Sweet Home Alabama? A Chicago police officer was disciplined for listening to it to some people anything connected with the south is by definition racist.

              I think the opponents of flying the confederate flag but most of them will make excuses for people who wear che guevara t-shirts.

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              • And this is a clear case of holding the south to a different standard no one claims San Francisco by Scott McKenzie is symbol of anti-Asian racism despite San Francisco’s historic Jim Crow like treatment of Asian Americans.

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                • 1) That song has no lyrics that can be/have been misunderstood as supportive of anti-asian racism.

                  2) I’m sure there are many songs that would cause massive outrage if the SFPD blared them during a protest of anti-asian discrimination. The moral of that story is: you’re an officer of the peace; be respectful to peaceful protesters.

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                  • The moral of that story is: you’re an officer of the peace; be respectful to peaceful protesters.

                    I’d have no objection to punishing him for blaring music while while on the job, I object to the fact that he was suspended because of the completely non-offensive content of the song.

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                    • From my link:

                      the department said it “fully understands sensitivities related to the song and, regardless, we cannot condone any behavior that may be viewed as disruptive or disrespectful to any protester or resident.”

                      In other words, REGARDLESS of the dispute over what that specific song means (either in the abstract or in the specific circumstance of being played at protesting black people by a white person), the problem was disruptive and disrespectful behavior. According to the police department.

                      Sorry. I’m not sure why this is bothering you so much, but it doesn’t do what you want it to do.

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                      • Sorry. I’m not sure why this is bothering you so much, but it doesn’t do what you want it to do.

                        Because it shows the bias of upper middle class urban liberals sho think that every white person beneath is bigot worth of nothing but scorn.

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                        • Who are the “upper middle class urban liberals” here? The Chicago PD? The black protesters?

                          I get that you’re pissed off about something. I don’t get how this example connects in any way.

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                          • Who are the “upper middle class urban liberals” here?

                            Are really telling me you don’t know the type of person I’m talking about? Hipster/bobo types. The type of person who sneers at anyone who drinks Miller Lite rather than some craft beer? Those were the type of people who were outraged over this thing. They make other people’s lives hell in order to feed their own sense of self-righteousness

                            I get that you’re pissed off about something. I don’t get how this example connects in any way.

                            I don’t like snobs these people use anti-racism as shield to sneer at people of a lower social standing. Why do you feel the need to defend these people?

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                              • Well at least we’ve found the real villain here; a stereotype of snooty liberals…..

                                Why should I have to put up with people sneer at people I know and like?

                                Upper middle class liberals sneer at people beneath them then when the people they’re sneering at don’t like the liberals say it’s all because of racism.

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                              • Well at least we’ve found the real villain here; a stereotype of snooty liberals…..

                                Stereotype? Living in the very liberal northeast, I’ve seen quite a bit of what describes. While it may not be the plague described on conservative talk radio, those people do exist. Come to one of my family functions. I’ll introduce you to a few. ;)

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                                • I don’t’ doubt it at all. I grew up in the NE…right by exit 145 on the GSP. There are plenty of snooty upper middle class people (conservatives, liberals, centrists,etc) who look down on the slack jawed yokels. UMC people looking down on others is not tied to a certain political view. It’s just a snob thing. Dand was picking his boogieman of choice to stereotype. He was throwing up the people that irritate him as a way of typing all the liberals he didn’t like.

                                  It would be just as silly as if i assume every libertarian was just a republican who got tired of Bush in his second term, who is okay with gay marriage and pot but fine with everything cops do, wants a big defense budget, is pro-torture and tough on crime. Living in a red state i’ve known some of those.

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                                  • I didn’t read the way you did. I saw people attempting to downplay personal experience, which I think is a terrible idea in these kinds of discussions (though having these kinds of discussion may be a terrible idea in the first place but I digress).

                                    You and I are mostly on the same page. Any kind of typing is just B.S., but it’s just another day at OT.

                                    Oy vey. ;)

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                            • Let’s see here:

                              I am an upper middle class liberal.

                              I rarely drink beer, but when I do it tends to be expensive stuff, simply because I don’t much like the taste of Miller Lite. (Although a cold Bud on a hot day can be awfully tasty.)

                              I am outraged over the killing. You aren’t?

                              I certainly don’t consciously try to make people’s lives hell, but I do vote pretty much a party-line Democratic ticket. So I suppose that counts. On the other hand, I live in California.

                              I don’t like snobs either. I have plenty of friends who drink cheap beer. Who really gives a [blank] about their friends’ tastes, especially in food and drink? I might encourage people to try new things, but if they don’t like it, it’s no skin off my behind.

                              “[T]hese people use anti-racism as shield to sneer at people of a lower social standing.” No. Absolutely not. I use anti-racism because that’s the world I want to live in. I sneer at people who are so pathetic as to need racism in their lives to justify what pathetic little sense of self-worth that they have. Anyone who subscribes to HBD deserves nothing but the utmost contempt from civilized society.

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                            • This interchange illustrates (for this leftist at least)

                              Whats The Matter With Kansas, or The Poor Man’s Aristocracy.

                              Dand (an IMO many, many like him) feels snubbed and scorned for not being a member of the liberal elite.

                              Sweet Home Alabama+Confederate Flag= a great big Eff YOO to the liberal elites.

                              And who are the allies and beneficiaries of the coastal elites, who really needed to have Sweet Home Alabama blared at them?

                              We forget sometimes that George Wallace hated white elites as much as poor blacks.

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                              • I totally know that there is a kind of right-wing (usually Southern and/or Western) populist that hates white elites with a passion.

                                This hatred of white-elites is what turned the GOP into the right-wing party it is today. Rick Perlstein shows this in his books especially Before the Storm. The Southern and Western right-wingers who backed Goldwater hated the traditional Northeast Country Club Republicans. Many of them were in business but not Wall Street banking, finance, and law. They were in rougher trades like making toilets and sinks (Kohl was a second-generation factory owner). They were striving and ambitious and couldn’t understand the relaxed ways and mores of their Northeast counterparts. This included stuff like the “Gentleman’s C” and the idea of effortless ease.

                                Years ago, I read a book review for the founder of the National Review. Not Buckley but his co-founder and publisher. The book review covered how this young striving mid-Westerner was lost at Princeton especially because his more well-heeled counterparts made fun of him for being a gunner in class.

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                                • You know, if it were just the Proletariat vs the Elite, I know which side I would be on.

                                  But it never gets that simple- its like that old saying, about how when the peasants are starving, it is never the fault of the Lord in the manor, but it somehow is the fault of the Jew, the Gypsy, the old hag who practices spells, or the guy in the next town, but never, ever the Lord.

                                  I notice how for the cop in Dand’s example, the “elite” were a bunch of poor black folks, not the bankers in the towers looking down.
                                  How for much of the Tea Party, a “womyn’s studies” professor at community college is “elite” yet Jamie Dimon is a regular guy who should not have to pay the dreaded Death Tax.

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                                  • I notice how for the cop in Dand’s example, the “elite” were a bunch of poor black folks,

                                    No the people who I was complaining about are upper middle class liberals, I don’t have a problem with the inner city blacks. I mean one of the people who was upset about it insists that an overwhelmingly Hispanic neighborhood is unsafe despite all the crime stats showing but he’s not it’s all the working class people that are racist. Their hypocrisy and self-righteousness is beyond annoying.

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                                    • Get over yourself. Conservatives think liberals sneer at them more in fantasy than happens in reality. All of your examples come from some Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin fever dream, not from reality.

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                                      • @Dand

                                        Get over yourself. Conservatives think liberals sneer at them more in fantasy than happens in reality. All of your examples come from some Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin fever dream, not from reality.

                                        I’ve seen people do it in person don’t tell me it doesn’t happen, fact you’ve done it here. Upper middle class liberals sneer at middle class Americans all the time.

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                                        • And white-trash conservatives sneer at liberals all the time; for going on 15 years now, members of Congress get on national TV and the news and use the word ‘liberal’ as a dirty word.

                                          I go to the food pantry, volunteer my time (and money) to hand out food, partly purchased by government programs, to hear people in line going on about big government and the tyrant in the white house and dirty liberals. Every month, we go through the same thing.

                                          There’s no corner on the market of ideological-signaling stupidity and lack of empathy for people with political differences in this blighted discourse, and that some liberals do it too is as meaningless as some conservatives do it.

                                          More importantly, is recognizing these stupidities for what they are: purity arguments as a way to discredit debate.

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                                            • Hippy punching was never a thing.

                                              Hippies were mostly from upper middle class backgrounds the hardhats were mostly working class therefore any hippie punching was by definition punching up and therefore acceptable.

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                                                • If you say so sweetie.

                                                  Do you believe in the punching up/punching down dichotomy or not? That you’re still but hurt about the way blue collar workers treated spoiled brat college kids 50 years demonstrates that you don’t like punching up when it doesn’t fit you narrow ideological bias. Why do you feel the need to defend snobs?

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                                                  • Because hippies haven’t been punched since!

                                                    Occupy Wall Street wasn’t hippies. Anti-war protesters in 2001 weren’t hippies.

                                                    You’re so cute when you’re in denial. All the hyper-literalism and struggling to make sure that liberals are always and forever the bad guys.

                                                    Keep it up, and you could almost hack it on Usenet back in the day.

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                                                    • Because hippies haven’t been punched since!

                                                      Occupy Wall Street wasn’t hippies. Anti-war protesters in 2001 weren’t hippies.

                                                      You’re so cute when you’re in denial. All the hyper-literalism and struggling to make sure that liberals are always and forever the bad guys.

                                                      Keep it up, and you could almost hack it on Usenet back in the day.

                                                      I’m not the one who brought hippies up; I just think it’s interesting that people are still pissed about the way blue collar workers treated hippies 50 years.

                                                      I don’t think liberals are always the bad guys I’m rather sympathetic to blue collar non-snobby liberals.

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                                                  • I have to say [edit: as a liberal!], I think Dand has the better of it in this squabble (a squabble about which team’s sneering is more justified than the others I might add). I think his point about liberals’ belief that they only punch up while they sneeringly punch down at blue collar/rural types is perceptive and probably correct.

                                                    I just don’t know why this is such a big deal. Liberals sneer at conservatives/rednecks/ruralia all the time. One person, who seems to stridently reject that bare fact, has made a posting career here at the league doing that very thing.

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                                                    • This liberal agrees.

                                                      Its easy sometimes for us to think of the class divide in America as binary, Rich v Poor when in fact both the left and right have Top/ Bottom coalitions.

                                                      Its easy also when we aim rhetorical fire at a political group, we include a lot of collateral damage- not just their ideas, but their culture, become part of what we despise.

                                                      But a lot of this is self-inflicted. Like how some black people identify education with “being white”, or how “redneck culture” is so easily equated with the Confederacy.

                                                      When we ourselves shield our ideas behind culture, we shouldn’t be surprised that people attack both.

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                                                    • ugh….stereotyping and hating on people based on generic group membership is stupid. My tribe vs you tribe is the curse of humantiy. Yeah i guess you can dress that up a bit with the punchign up/down view. But the various sneers Lib/Cons/ City/Rural whatever are solid stupid on all parts.

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                                              • I am an old hippie chick. I also grew up in serious poverty; like getting a new pair of blue jeans instead of hand-me-downs is a highly memorable event in my teenage life, and having to ask my mom for $5 for a school trip was extremely stressful because I knew we didn’t have an extra $5 poor.

                                                Most of the upper-class hippies I knew had turned their backs on their families wealth and embraced so level of poverty; they knew what not having access to $5 when needed meant, too. Or not having a roof over your head. Or having to trade sex (if you were a woman) for that roof; one of the more unacknowledged abuses of the culture.

                                                so I really think that the notion of hippie punching = punching up doesn’t reflect much knowledge of hippies. Because I do know that those hippies who left the comfort of their suburban homes and lived on the road and experienced some homelessness, hunger, abuse, and condemnation actually have an inkling of poverty that those ‘hippie-punching up’ don’t typically have.

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                                                • I am an old hippie chick. I also grew up in serious poverty; like getting a new pair of blue jeans instead of hand-me-downs is a highly memorable event in my teenage life, and having to ask my mom for $5 for a school trip was extremely stressful because I knew we didn’t have an extra $5 poor.

                                                  I’m speaking about averages not absolutes.

                                                  Most of the upper-class hippies I knew had turned their backs on their families wealth and embraced so level of poverty; they knew what not having access to $5 when needed meant, too. Or not having a roof over your head. Or having to trade sex (if you were a woman) for that roof; one of the more unacknowledged abuses of the culture.

                                                  1) Most hippies were nowhere near that hardcore most might have gone to Woodstock but never strayed that far from their upper middle class origins.
                                                  2) Opting out of the upper middle class is not the same thing as never having the option. I bet most of the upper middle class hippies were living upper middle class lives by 1985 if they wanted to. An upper middle class person who opts out is still more privileged than a working class person who never had the chance to be upper middle class in the first place.

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                                                • so I really think that the notion of hippie punching = punching up doesn’t reflect much knowledge of hippies.

                                                  1. Sneering, almost by definition, relies on a willful lack of knowledge about the group being sneered at.

                                                  2. Hippie punching isn’t about punching up or down: it’s a rhetorical device created by liberals to identify the type of sneering that conservatives use to reflexively (or maybe the right word is “flexively”!) reject the interests of liberals.

                                                  Take that for whatever you think it’s worth, given that I thought Dand’s initial point was entirely uncontroversial (from my pov!) and as a result I’ve probably missed out on a lot of ism-oriented subtlety here.

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                                                    • Dand,

                                                      Back in the 60s, hippies were punched for being hippies. Nowadays, the term “hippie punching” is used by liberals to criticize conservatives for reflexively rejecting liberal views. (“Stupid dirty hippies.”) My point is that the concept is used at a meta-level by liberals to perpetuate all this culture war nonsense.

                                                      Alsotoo, when a liberal uses the term “hippie punching” to describe what they think conservatives are doing (correctly or incorrectly) the term is divorced from the liberal “punching up/punching down” axis.

                                                      Like I said earlier, there are lots of ism-oriented subtleties I might not be privy to in this debate. And if so I’m not sure I want to get clearer on what they are.

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                                                      • Yes, in modern parlance “hippy punching” tends to refer to a reflexive attack.

                                                        The way anti-war demonstrations were treated in 2001 and 2002 was hippy punching. Very Serious People had demanded war, and anyone protesting otherwise was immediately labeled “unserious” and “idealistic” because War Was Happening.

                                                        My favorite tidbit at the time was a forwarded email, wherein someone explained how you convinced someone against the Iraq war to change their mind. You punched them in the face until they fought back, to show them pacifism wasn’t the answer.

                                                        Everything about that sums up hippy punching. Opposed to the war? Must be a pacifist, only explanation. Change their mind? Hit them.

                                                        Hooray!

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                                          • And white-trash conservatives sneer at liberals all the time;

                                            1) Here we have an example of the type of sneer that Saul says doesn’t exist except in the mid of Sara Pailin
                                            2) If you actually believed in the difference between punching up and punching down you would recognize that the working class people are punching up while you and your snob friends are punching down. This proves that you don’t really believe in the punching up/punch down dichotomy.

                                            I go to the food pantry, volunteer my time (and money) to hand out food, partly purchased by government programs, to hear people in line going on about big government and the tyrant in the white house and dirty liberals

                                            Clearly and example of punching up but of course since the punches are being directed at someone you like it doesn’t count as punching up.

                                            There’s no corner on the market of ideological-signaling stupidity and lack of empathy for people with political differences in this blighted discourse, and that some liberals do it too is as meaningless as some conservatives do it.

                                            The difference is at least in the cases of seen the upper middle class liberals are sneering at people below them while the working class conservatives are sneering at people above them.

                                            More importantly, is recognizing these stupidities for what they are: purity arguments as a way to discredit debate.

                                            You don’t tell blacks to put up with racism why are you telling me that I should put up with people sneering at people I care about.

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                                            • I specifically linked white-trash conservatives to Congress; who panders.

                                              I grew up really poor, on a farm, in a rural area. I milked between 80 and 120 cows every morning before school, and did it again after I got home. I worked hard physical labor fro the time I was old enough to pick up a pail or shovel.

                                              Now, I am quite wealthy, and I don’t chose to live in libertopia; I tried that (ask Vikram, he lived in the very same libertopia, and we both agree that the diversity of the community was something to behold). But I like farmers and auto mechanics and hunting guides, and I fully agree — a lot of highly-educated people look down on people who’s jobs involve getting your hands dirty. But I don’t think that’s the result of liberal, I think it’s the result of limited experience and trying to be better than your parents and a whole lot of fostering the american dream is the path through college. Which a lot of conservatives attend. (It’s ironic that so many enter, and leave liberal, too.) But unions are/were part of the main coalition of the Democratic party; and I don’t think unions are elitist, don’t-get-your-nails-dirty folk. Same with African Americans. So you pick this subset of liberals, a subset that also includes conservatives, and brand all liberals with that brush.

                                              If I did that with conservatives, you’d be all over me for it.

                                              Your stereotypes just don’t work with me. You’re signalling a fantasy, not a reality; that’s much more complex and difficult to reconcile.

                                              It’s ugly, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a liberal or a conservative doing it. It’s isming, and it’s shameful.

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                                              • I’ve never said all liberal I’ve always added a qualifier to make it clear that I was talking about a certain type of upper middle class liberal not every liberal.

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                                                • a certain type of upper middle class liberal

                                                  So if I say a certain type of evangelical Christian and went on to bash Christians or conservatives, it would be okay because I specified a certain type?

                                                  See, it’s easy to have this stereotype used to signify this big group of people, and when challenged, to say, no, I mean this small (blurry-edged) subset of this group of people.

                                                  So I’ve got two groups; clearly defined: those who can condemn this action as racist and clearly say that the symbols of the ideology displayed are racist — even as those symbols are protected free speech, and those who refuse to say that this atrocious act was racist.

                                                  I don’t care if the folks in those two groups were/are liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, black, white, or green. But you either condemn this atrocity for what it was, and you examine your own life in light of it, or you don’t. Which ever, it’s on your soul, your karma.

                                                  But in the context of this conversation, that’s the weighing that matters to me, all else is distraction and look-over-here at this other sparkle.

                                                  So if you can find some leading conservative voice, for instance, saying, “Maybe we should take that flag down,” or, “Maybe going out and buying another gun because of this is the wrong thing to do,” or, “Maybe it’s a good find a better way to embrace our heritage,” please link to them. Show me the places where people on the right call this crime out for what it was: a racist attack on people expressing their first-amendment rights to worship, assembly, and speech; intended to attack all blacks, and not just on the people in Emanuel Church that night.

                                                  You bring me those links, my email address is on my gravitar; write a post, and I’ll post it here for you, unedited; you can say whatever you want; so long as the links document a pattern of Republican/Conservative leaders condemning this as racism.

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                                                  • So if I say a certain type of evangelical Christian and went on to bash Christians or conservatives, it would be okay because I specified a certain type?

                                                    Where did criticize all liberals? Why I am not allowed to criticize upper middle class liberal snobs because there are other types of liberals? I never said anything about other type of liberals. Did you read anything I wrote? You seem to think that criticize liberal snobs is wrong because it taints other liberals by association.

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                                • I think that’s very insightful. It’s similar to how increasing wealth brings us no closer to the scarcity-free society, as people keeping finding new stuff they just have to have. A society with nothing much really to be angry about invents grievances with a level of effort and ingenuity that if only better aimed, would solve cold fusion over breakfast and leave time for a cup of tea and a Danish.

                                  Consider the history of religious strife: Masada, thousands years of violence between Shia and Sunni, the horror of the Thirty Years War. How infinitely better off would the world have been if the conflicts had consisted of each side refusing to name the other’s holidays? But in this country it’s a War (not even the moral equivalent of). That’s why they call them First-World Problems.

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                              • What always amuses me is how these accusations of being elite are always about free time activities in the United States.

                                A person who likes going to the Brooklyn Academy of Music is an elitists even if they can only afford the nose-bleed section (trust me, it is a nose-bleed section).

                                A person who likes NASCAR is a man of the people even if he makes millions a year.

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                              • Dand (an IMO many, many like him) feels snubbed and scorned for not being a member of the liberal elite.

                                Sweet Home Alabama+Confederate Flag= a great big Eff YOO to the liberal elites.

                                And who are the allies and beneficiaries of the coastal elites, who really needed to have Sweet Home Alabama blared at them?

                                We forget sometimes that George Wallace hated white elites as much as poor blacks.

                                Why should I put up with people who sneer at me and people from my hometown? It’s funny how you talk about punching up then get al defensive when someone punches up at you. How about upper middle class liberals stop acting like obnoxious snobs? Why should working class whites put up with being sneered at?

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                                • I’m actually on your side here, pal.

                                  Well, sort of.

                                  I don’t think working class whites should tolerate being snubbed by elites.
                                  If working class people want to get angry at the elites, I have plenty of Occupy posters in my garage.

                                  Where I DON”T have even a trace of sympathy, is for working class white people who see the black single mother down the street as the enemy.
                                  Which IMO is the underlying cause of the eagerness of the working class conservatives who support ending the estate tax and cutting TANF.

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                            • Are really telling me you don’t know the type of person I’m talking about?

                              I’m telling you you’re complaining about a story where (1) cop does something inappropriate that happens to involve a song about the southland; (2) black protesters complain; and (3) Chicago PD investigates and issues a short suspension. Your compaint is that this shows “upper middle class urban liberals” are jerks. So who in your story are the “upper middle class urban liberals”? Or does anything that aggrieves any southerner count as coming from “upper middle class urban liberals”?

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                              • I’m telling you you’re complaining about a story where (1) cop does something inappropriate that happens to involve a song about the southland; (2) black protesters complain; and (3) Chicago PD investigates and issues a short suspension. Your compaint is that this shows “upper middle class urban liberals” are jerks. So who in your story are the “upper middle class urban liberals”? Or does anything that aggrieves any southerner count as coming from “upper middle class urban liberals”?

                                I live in Chicago there were plenty of upper middle class urban liberals who were making fuss about it at the time I know them personally don’t tell me it didn’t happen.

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                                • Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. You’re fixated on this example because it happened where you live and because people you dislike thought it was the right thing.

                                  So the complaint is that these people agreed with Chicago PD about the appropriate punishment (or, perhaps, wanted even more). The nerve.

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                                  • Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. You’re fixated on this example because it happened where you live and because people you dislike thought it was the right thing.

                                    So the complaint is that these people agreed with Chicago PD about the appropriate punishment (or, perhaps, wanted even more). The nerve.

                                    I’m not fixated on it. There wouldn’t have been any punishment of these people didn’t create a fuss about it.

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              • 1) Yes, that would be MUCH better.
                2) I’m not sure why I”m supposed to be troubled by your example (white cop in Chicago blaring an out-of-place song that, despite its own neutrality appears to have been played as a way to taunt marchers protesting police brutality and the murder of African-Americans). A short suspension sounds about right for unprofessional behavior (and I would feel the same way about a different song used for the same purpose). If he’d been waiving a huge confederate flag, I hope we can all agree the penalty should have been much more severe.

                There, unnecessary diversion over. Now how about the point I actually made.

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                • I’m not sure why I”m supposed to be troubled by your example (white cop in Chicago blaring an out-of-place song that, despite its own neutrality appears to have been played as a way to taunt marchers protesting police brutality and the murder of African-Americans).

                  He said he was listening in order to celebrate the Alabama football victory, you’re assuming that since the song was about a Southern State it must have been racist.

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                  • Yes. He SAID that. He seems to be the only one who buys that, including protestors, observers, and his own police department (which, as we know, tends to close ranks to protect its own). That you unquestioningly (1) accept his statement; and (2) believe this is demonstrative of widespread anti-southern prejudice says more about you than anyone else.

                    And, even if what the cop said WAS true, his behavior still fails the “you’re an officer of the peace; be respectful to peaceful protesters” test.

                    Do you honestly believe that South Carolina replacing that flag with a new symbol not rooted in rebellion and/or domestic terrorism would not be seen as significant, or at this point are you just trolling?

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                    • Yes. He SAID that. He seems to be the only one who buys that, including protestors, observers, and his own police department (which, as we know, tends to close ranks to protect its own). That you unquestioningly (1) accept his statement; and (2) believe this is demonstrative of widespread anti-southern prejudice says more about you than anyone else.

                      I don’t know if he’s telling truth or not I just oppose double standards.

                      And, even if what the cop said WAS true, his behavior still fails the “you’re an officer of the peace; be respectful to peaceful protesters” test.

                      That’s true but but the content of the song shouldn’t matter.

                      Do you honestly believe that South Carolina replacing that flag with a new symbol not rooted in rebellion and/or domestic terrorism would not be seen as significant

                      People would praise it at first but after while people would see the new symbol as being racist.

                      or at this point are you just trolling?

                      Of course anyone who calls upper middle class northern liberals on their biases must be trolling. Why do you people get so defensive whenever you’re criticized?

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                      • Why do you people get so defensive whenever you’re criticized?

                        Pot. Kettle. Black.

                        People would praise it at first but after while people would see the new symbol as being racist.

                        I disagree. I don’t think people see everything southern as racist. And, at minimum, the new symbol would have been created explicitly to be racist. So that’d be a win.

                        I don’t know if he’s telling truth or not I just oppose double standards.

                        Explain to me the double standard. As I understand the background here: (1) LS wrote the song to push back at Neil Young’s criticism of Alabama; (2) the song contains lyrics that have been interpreted, but were not intended, to express support for George Wallace; (3) LS marketed themselves heavily with confederate symbols, as a decision made by their record label; (4) racist groups like and play the song, despite the fact that LS has consistently maintained those groups misunderstand the message. You seem to agree that playing any song that way in that context would be a bad choice for a police officer. Where is the double standard in saying that this song is an especially bad choice for that situation?

                        Also, why are you so fixated on one 10-day suspension in one city last year?

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                        • I disagree. I don’t think people see everything southern as racist.

                          The reaction to Sweet Home Alabama demonstrates that they do

                          Explain to me the double standard.

                          A song with no racist content is perceived as being racist just because it presents the south in a positive light; songs that put other parts of the country in a positive light are not similarly vied similarly.

                          Where is the double standard in saying that this song is an especially bad choice for that situation?

                          Because the song isn’t offensive and he shouldn’t receive additional punishment based on it’s content.

                          Also, why are you so fixated on one 10-day suspension in one city last year?

                          I’m not fixated on it, I’m using it as an example of how upper middle class urban liberal view anything connected with the south as racist.

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                          • Whether the song or the band is racist or not is not the issue. The issue is that it is perceived that way by a large percentage of the people at the protest because of the people and groups who have associated themselves with it. Given that, blaring it (well, blaring any song is kind of unprofessional while you’re on duty, but let’s let that slide) shows really bad professional judgment. At best, it was an unfortunate but innocent mistake. More likely, it seems to be the loud music equivalent of, “I’m not touching yoooou!” Poking a group of people who could potentially become a mob is a bad idea, especially when you’re getting paid to make sure they don’t become a mob.

                            If it just happened to be a really unfortunate choice of songs, I feel for the guy. Sometimes we say or do things that aren’t taken the way we meant them. Been there. But this doesn’t seem like a miscarriage of justice. Cops on duty at protests should be expected to be really careful with how they behave, and anything that smells of poor judgment needs a response of some sort.

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                            • If a cop had done the same thing with the song San Francisco at a Chinese New Year celebration I doubt there would have been this level of outrage San Francisco is forgiven for its racism Alabama isn’t.

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                              • No, it isn’t. But your deep expertise as a southerner living in Chicago probably trumps my being born, raised, and residing there.

                                We don’t, however, take pride in any symbols of Asian discrimination and instead have turned Angel Island (basically Ellis Island for asian immigrants) into a fantastic museum documenting the shitty treatment doled out there.

                                Also, your repeated emphasis on a song that has literally nothing to do with anything other than the title is a really bad example. The better example for that song would be playing it outside a abstinence convention in Mississippi (where presumably they’d be displeased with some of the song’s sentiments).

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                              • If the song was widely perceived by Asian citizens to be anti-Asian, and if instead of a Chinese New Year celebration it was played by cops at a protest full of Asians who felt mistreated by the police, I’d guess that there would be at least that level of outrage.

                                If you want to argue that it’s wrong that the song is perceived that way and that people shouldn’t be sensitive to it, that’s fine. It’s a perfectly legitimate position to take. But given that people are sensitive to it, playing it at a protest full of angry people is just poking a potential mob with a stick, which is exactly the opposite of what police should be doing at a protest. The argument that they’re wrong to be sensitive to it is sort of academic if you manage to upset them enough that they burn the place to the ground.

                                Let’s try this: If there was a big march full of angry people who felt like the cops hated them and were enraged at the color yellow, an officer who wore a yellow headband while policing the protest should be disciplined good and hard, even if the hatred for the color yellow was totally irrational and not fairly applied to other colors. This argument has nothing to do with whether yellow is an objectively evil color. Step zero in policing a protest is not to turn it into a riot.

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                                • So when Ben Stein says that teaching the theory of evolution is Anti-Semitic should we listen to him and stop teaching it? You’re showing you’re bias here when it suits you we should cave to irrational and wrong beliefs about bigotry when it doesn’t we shouldn’t.

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                                  • So when Ben Stein says that teaching the theory of evolution is Anti-Semitic should we listen to him and stop teaching it? You’re showing you’re bias here when it suits you we should cave to irrational and wrong beliefs about bigotry when it doesn’t we shouldn’t.

                                    I feel like you’re intentionally ignoring context here. The officer wasn’t at a university giving a talk titled, “Sweet Home Alabama: Why We Should All Love It.” He wasn’t putting up a web site to educate us about the political views of Lynyrd Skynyrd. He wasn’t having a conversation about symbolism in rock music over beers at the local bar. He was being paid to make sure a large crowd of angry people stayed calm and went home without starting a riot.

                                    Let me try to play with the analogy some more. If Ben Stein had a bomb and was acting agitated about this issue and your job was to keep him from setting it off, would the first words out of your mouth be, “Darwin was The Man!” I mean, Darwin was pretty great, right? If he’s pissed off about it, that’s on him, right?

                                    If your job was to keep a big bunch of Muslim protesters in order, would walking around ostentatiously eating bacon be the way to do it (especially when eating isn’t normally something you’d be seen doing on the job)? I mean, bacon is pretty tasty and the Muslim aversion to it is irrational. You could just be showing them that it’s totally safe. It’s not like you’re intentionally showing contempt for their beliefs at a sensitive moment and putting everybody in danger.

                                    If you were a sales account manager with a Mormon client, would giving him a gift of craft brew help to close the deal? I mean, that’s really good beer you’re giving him and other more rational people would be appreciative. OK, at best you’re ignorant of an important client’s sensitivities and at worst you’re throwing his religious beliefs in his face, but none of that should matter because the Mormon prohibition of alcohol is irrational to begin with, right?

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                                    • No one at the protest seemed to upset about it (watch the video) all the outrage over this incident happened when the video went viral after the fact. I don’t have a problem with him being disciplined for blasting music (It’s the fact that the mayor and police superintendant caved to a twitter mob that bothers me.), I just don’t like the self-righteousness that upper-middle class liberals displayed about the incident.

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                                      • No one at the protest seemed to upset about it…

                                        Good. Nothing bad happened. That means it showed perfectly good judgment and no review of his actions was necessary.

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                            • “Whether the song or the band is racist or not is not the issue. The issue is that it is perceived that way by a large percentage of the people…”

                              So, when folks PERCEIVE that “niggardly” is racist and agitate to fire a the guy who said it “because of the people…” that said it were white…that’s understandable too yes?

                              No, being stupid isn’t a defense.

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                              • The two situations aren’t analogous. There was no way of knowing the people would have flipped out over the use of the word niggardly, and even if there was, people in a conference room aren’t the same thing as a potential mob of angry protesters. When people react wrongly to a misinterpretation of something said with good intentions in a conference room, those people are at fault. When a mob gets angry because a cop does something that he knows is likely to make them angry, the cop is at least partially at fault.

                                “They’re ignorant and should have been cool with it,” is not a great answer when your boss asks you, “Why the hell were you provoking a mob?”

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                                  • If that’s right, then doesn’t your perception of the problem contribute to what you identify as the problem?

                                    Going meta seems like a white guy/white culture thing, tho I remained convinced it doesn’t accomplish anything in the real world other than make white guys/culture feel better about themselves. In fact, it just exacerbates all the issues those particular critics are complaining about.

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                                    • Because he was saintly and a racist,

                                      The most awful thing you’ll ever do in your life is certainly defining, but your life is defined by its sum total; and that one thing, that one habit, defining as it might be, is an edge of you; not the total. Without understanding that, there’s no room for redemption.

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                                  • If that’s the only point you’re making, sure. It’s correct. Perception is the problem a lot of the time when people come into conflict. My point is that while perception is a problem, it’s not the only problem.

                                    Sometimes a person’s job is to deal with things as they are, not as they should be (for anybody’s value of “should be”). The job of police officer pretty near the top of the list of those jobs, but it’s by no means the only one.

                                    If you’ve only ever worked in a place where perception didn’t matter and you’ve never had to change how you behave based on how it might be perceived, you’re a very lucky man indeed. I can think of plenty of times when a boss has legitimately had to say to an employee, “WTF were you thinking? Do you know how that looked [to the customer/boss/media/mob out front]???” This seems like one of the times when that sort of talk was in order.

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                                    • True. And yes, and I work in a place where perception does matter. And my job is a very precise one. It doesn’t matter what reality is, it matters what question was asked. In fact, I recently dealt with a Business Development guy who was misinformed about how we burden costs and was using the wrong terminology. I had to explain to him that margin and fee were too different things, ESPECIALLY to finance types. So when you ask what’s the fee and what’s the margin, two very different things.

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                        • nevermoor,

                          “Sweet Home Alabama” is an interesting song to talk about, yeah? It’s conventionally viewed as Skynyrd’s response to Neil Young’s “Alabama”. Does it defend racism? I don’t think so. I mean, if we take the “response” theme seriously, we got this:

                          Neil Young says

                          Alabama, you got the weight on your shoulders
                          That’s breaking your back.

                          Skynyrd responds with

                          In Birmingham they love the governor, boo boo boo
                          Now we all did what we could do
                          Now Watergate does not bother me
                          Does your conscience bother you? Tell the truth

                          Seems to me Van Zant is saying that Neil’s wrong to attribute the identified problems to everyone in Alabama since there’s only so much he, or any single individual, can do to enact real change. He’s rejecting (rather than supporting) the view that Alabamans are collectively racist. And the Watergate part is supposed to make the point: an individual’s conscience is more important than and divorced from the policies enacted by politicians elected. Van Zant rejects the Watergate breakin just as he rejects the racist policies of Alabama. So it seems to me he’s criticizing NY for lumping all Alabaman’s into one short, sharp shot.

                          Further, that fact that a segment of Southerners view the song differently isn’t Skynyrd’s fault. Which reminds of a recent Jason Isbell show (he’s proudly Alabama). When he played “(We aint) Never Gonna Change” it was pretty dang clear that the southern/redneck contingent in the crowd interpreted the song in a radically different way than Isbell – and the lyrics! – intended.

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                            • Nice. Man, I spent a lot of time listening to that album. A bunch of DBT, actually.

                              “Fortunately for him, the devil is also a Southerner. So this song’s gonna take place in hell.” (Hah!)

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                          • I agree it’s interesting. I’m happy to believe that LS meant exactly what they say they meant. I’m also happy to believe it wasn’t their choice to make that flag the centerpiece of their marketing strategy.

                            But they were marketed that way and their song was interpreted to mean something else. That’s certainly not entirely on them. It may not be on them at all, but I doubt it.

                            EIther way though, it’s a terrible choice to be played in this Chicago incident that we’ve all spent way too much of this thread being distracted by.

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              • The Revolution was treason against a foreign country, in defense of self-representation. The Southern Secession was treason against America, in defense of chattel slavery. The difference should be obvious.

                Also, it’s wave, not waive. Learn to spell.

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                • Did you miss the thread not too long ago that the american revolution wasn’t legitimate? And it wasnt against a foreign country. We were British subjects remember?

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              • You’re right, the one is exactly like the other. Good point!

                One: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. . .”

                The other: “Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.”

                I’m pretty comfortable saying the one led to something generally good while the other one (fortunately) failed to preserve something unequivocally terrible, and in its failing imposed catastrophic costs on the country.

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                  • Not as to voting rights (though the last of those categories got in pretty quickly). And, of course, the codified discrimination against blacks was insisted upon by the Southern states despite vehement northern opposition. [To save us a back and forth: (1) yes, the north profitted on the slave trade; (2) no, that doesn’t make them hypocrites in their attempt to avoid slavery protections]

                    Do you honestly not see a difference between the two motivations?

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              • If Britain had won the Revolutionary War, I’m pretty sure most people 150 years later would have viewed the stars and stripes as a flag of treason. Treason is sometimes still worth celebrating, of course – Operation Valkyrie was treasonous, but was also the right thing to do. The DoI was likewise an act of treason, even as it was worth celebrating.

                But if you want people to celebrate your treason even when you lose, you better have a damn good reason for it. The South Carolina secession resolution is many things, but “a damn good reason for treason” is not one of them.

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      • We need to stop tilting at windmills.

        I don’t understand this response, either as one directly responding to LWA’s comment or Mike D’s main post. You effectively concede that every one of the issues LWA mentions in fact are, or potentially are, causes of the Charleston massacre, yet your entire response is that changing any of those causes amounts to “tilting at windmills”.

        I mean, that’s a perfectly fine thing to do (of course!) but you’re basically saying that there’s a bunch of causes we can identify and agree about but not a damn thing we – as a society! – can do about em. Which sorta misses the point of Mike’s post (since he apparently thinks a bunch of those potential causes are ridiculous on their face), but it also begs the political question as well as the principled one. I mean, I get the impression you reflexively oppose any restriction on access to guns and the flying of the COnfederate flag (even as a symbol displayed at seats of gummint?), so it’s not like I don’t get where you’re coming from. It’s just that … well … I don’t get where you’re coming from.

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        • I was actually responding to nevermoor, but my point still stands, I think. What I am trying to point out is that many of the things that he pointed to are outside the Overton window (don’t you just love how that has been cropping up as a phrase lately?) And as such, when those things are what are shot for and not achieved we get nothing done. Now, I am not saying that they shouldn’t be long term goals, but for right now, shooting for those things may backfire at the left, and cause such things as opposition control of a necessary house of congress, one of the things that would need to change for these things to be achievable..

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          • Sure, but that’s the hallmark argument of status quo b.s.

            All achievable things (e.g. taking flag down) are meaningless and not worth doing because they won’t totally solve all problems. All things that would create significant positive change are meaningless and not worth discussing because they aren’t easily implementable.

            What’s your proposal, other than to raise meaningless objections?

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            • So, how’s it been working for you? The left has been trying HARD for gun control for 30+ years, and has only lost ground. Sure, you can try to get the flag lowered/removed, but I really don’t think it will happen until a whole lot of other things change.

              I do think that changes in health care is a great idea in cases like this, but again, the left had a massive push in health care a few years ago and it seems to have bought them bupkis. Please feel free to differ.

              In general, I think the left needs to A. give up some ground on gun control to make some changes that might help such as waiting periods and whatnot. And B. find some way to co-opt or defuse the supposed power of the conf. flag. I gave a method above that I think could work, having every African American start wearing it, as I think that would defuse whatever power it supposedly has. Then again, I think that Dennis is right in is post today, that it isn’t the flag, and that is more a symbol for the left.

              If you think these things are worth doing, then by all means go after them. I think they are outside the Overton window and as short term goals they are taking all of the lefts energy for no good end.

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              • you actually made me laugh with this comment,

                I can’t believe it’s not a parody. Incredible.

                Co-opt the confederate flag by wearing it. That would, I think, be an invitation to get shot, no? But instead, the left needs to give up some ground on gun control to make some changes that might help such as waiting periods after saying, So, how’s it been working for you? The left has been trying HARD for gun control for 30+ years, and has only lost ground.

                So the left’s not winning, but should give up some more (unspecified gun stuff) in exchange for waiting periods? Is the unspecified stuff the Confederate flag?

                How ’bout we, (I SPEAK for the left), let off complaining about that flag when, the right (and whatever side your on and speaking for), start addressing institutional racism in your various states? I’d go for that agreement in a moment: you get the flag, we get to root out some institutional racism.

                If your points 1 and 2 are entwined, if you’re willing to give up some gun rights for a flag that represents slavery, that’s seems really funny to me; I didn’t think the commitment to gun rights was that shallow.

                I must have misconstrued what you meant, no?

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                • Yes, I was being deadly serious about African Americans taking over the confederate flag. As it stands it is becoming a symbol of defiance and the further people dig in on it the more defiance it represents. You want to change that? Getting angrier wont do it, so you need to assimilate it, make it part of your culture. That is how you steal its power.

                  “If your points 1 and 2 are entwined, if you’re willing to give up some gun rights for a flag that represents slavery, that’s seems really funny to me; I didn’t think the commitment to gun rights was that shallow.”
                  Not really sure what you mean here, but no? they aren’t intertwined?

                  What I am saying,again, about gun control is that the left has made hard pushes for that for quite a while and from what I have seen has made zero progress. And if you consider concealed carry, has lost ground. So I think people who want gun control probably need to go back to the drawing board.

                  To be perfectly honest Zic, no matter how much I wish that these things would stop the problems that we have in this country with racism and racial violence, I think they solidify opposition to them. Because the people you really need to convince aren’t responding to these arguments, they stopped listening to you a long time ago. And to get them to listen will take changing tactics, in my opionion. Maybe I am wrong, but after reading this thread and Tod’s, I don’t think so.

                  So, should you exercise you right of free speech regarding the confed. flag? Absolutely. And I hope with all of you heart.

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      • Yeah. But I have absolutely zero problem with using my free speech rights to shame a state government from flying it over its capital building.

        Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should; and doing flying a flag that represents that much pain to so many people is rude and insensitive and I am 100% free to say that. You can celebrate your past in ways that recognize the wrong your ancestors did and the mistakes they made without being offensive. Flying it over your state capital is offensive.

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  6. My favorite:

    No proposal would have prevented all shootings, therefore none are worth discussing, much less implementing.

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  7. “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” -James Baldwin

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  8. Well, I’ve become even more cynical. I believe that most of the expressed horror at the racially-based shootings in a church or at the massacre of infants and their teachers in a grade school is so much maundering, hypocritical piety and that most Americans are perfectly happy to accept an occasional mass shooting as long as (1) it doesn’t affect them personally; and (2) their ability to purchase firearms at will is not restricted by the government. Because nobody wants to do jacksh*t about these killings

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    • There is a long history of “leave me alone” among a lot of men (and I mean people with XY chromosomes) in their politics. Anything that requires the slightest amount of action or doing something or contemplation is wrong. Just leave them alone with their sports games is all they want.

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  9. All,

    The OP is indeed very snarky, however it certainly wasn’t meant to stifle debate. I would, however, be extremely impressed if the conversation doesn’t follow the same script as every other mass shooting.

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    • Me too. There are two kinds of people: those who only talk about the problems you list, and those who criticize those who talk about them.

      We are, both types, responsible for the fact that they keep resulting in more violence. This post continues the tradition.

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        • No, Mike. Those are things that need to be talked about. The failure among my group is not talking about the wrong things, it’s not doing anything about them. Moving the ball forward would entail ignoring your group and getting to work.

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              • So talking about the Confederate flag somehow helps prevent the next mass shooting? I guess I don’t see the connection. These events all have things in common however ideology is rarely one of them.

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                • No. It helps mitigate the racism that state sanction of the Confederate flag encourages, of which this shooting is but the most extreme recent example. It is not at all a stretch to say that state-sanctioned celebration of the Confederacy encouraged this man in his beliefs. If so, then how is it impacting the actions and beliefs of people who stop short of physical violence?

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                  • If the best conversation to be had is about racism, this being the latest example of it in the United States, then sure, talk about racism. But keep in mind that the linkage to the Confederate flag is only based on two things: 1) A picture of the shooter with a Confederate Flag on his car 2) The shooting occurred in South Carolina. All the digital ink being spilled talking about what the flag stands for, was the Civil War based in treason, etc, etc does nearly nothing to address the reality of these types of events being more and more common. It’s a conversation that is heading away from the problem, not towards it.

                    Let’s consider that the next event is some vegan shooting up a McDonald’s because they serve hamburgers. Do we then have a debate about the ethics of eating meat and factory farming? Or do we talk about mass shootings?

                    I understand why we talk about guns whenever this happens. they are the tool being used. I understand why we talk about mental illness because that seems to be a common factor. I understand talking about why the shooters seems to always be young white males. What I don’t understand is a focus on ideology because that is the least common factor connecting these events.

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                    • Again – this was a political act, no different from the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Discussing his ideology is appropriate because his ideology is part and parcel of what happened. What’s more, when a terrorist attack occurs, defiance is a natural and appropriate way for people to respond or want to respond.

                      The Charlie attackers wanted to silence a type of speech? We shouldn’t be surprised when free speech advocates think the appropriate response is to promote the speech sought to be silenced and to criticize those who they view as seeking to discourage the speech.

                      This guy wanted to strike a blow against civil rights and the notion of racial equality and for white supremacy? We shouldn’t be surprised when civil rights advocates think the appropriate response is to question why an unambiguous symbol of white supremacy, racial inequality, and racial oppression is still given official sanction.

                      Defiance in the face of terrorism means doubling down on that which the terrorist sought to stop.

                      Yes, eliminating state sanction of the Confederate battle flag is only a small part of civil rights advocates’ agenda. But in this case, the symbolism of it is especially potent and, as
                      notes aptly above, especially hurtful.

                      Would taking the flag down from the statehouse prevent future massacres? Maybe not. Would it help to discourage racism? Probably, but debatably.

                      But, honestly, is it really that much to ask? Wouldn’t it send a powerful message – a defiant message in the face of a terror attack – that yes, #blacklivesmatter?

                      Remember all the outrage conservatives displayed over the Islamic Community Center that was kinda near Ground Zero, and how they insisted that it was akin to a victory lap on the graves of the victims of terrorism? Imagine how people of color must feel about the flag of slavery – and Jim Crow – being raised every day by their own government over the very land on which their ancestors were enslaved, and they themselves suffered under Jim Crow. Now imagine how they must feel with their own government flying it – at full staff, no less – just yards away from the scene of Wednesday night’s massacre, which was not only at a church, but at a church primarily known as a bastion of the civil rights movement for literally almost two hundred years.

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                • I tend to see the focus on the flag right now as more about removing an insult at a time of injury than about prevention of violence. I have to say that I think the connection of perhaps ending the state’s use of the symbol to preventing racist violence is tenuous, and indeed it seems to me that in the short run removing the flag could lead to a backlash that could be violent (though I don’t think that’s a great risk either). The value of removing the flag now in my view would be primarily that of a gesture of human decency at a time of stress and grief.

                  Such an act of decency would ipso facto be an admission of the social and political meaning of that symbol, however (i.e. honoring the legacy of institutionalization of racial oppression and racist violence), so of course it;s not going to happen.

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                    • The argument about the flag is that it was a symbol of slavery during the war and it was then used frequently as a symbol of “states rights” while fighting against the end of jim crow/ desegregation. So if people have had a problem with it for years how the heck is pointing out how it is still a problem opportunism? Its seems like just finding yet another data point for why its an issue. You seem to be suggesting that because it has been a problem for decades that mentioning it is somehow wrong. Why? If anything that should lend credibility to the claims about problems with the flag because it has been an issue for so long.

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                    • Come on, Mike.

                      Yes, it’s been bothering them for years. Unjustifiably?

                      Now, at a time of extreme emotion around race and violence, seeing the state endorse that symbol, which is one of racism and violence against their people, they feel that the insult has finally become to great to bear. Opportunism is too cynical a way to look at that emotion in context.

                      And, insulting to the victims? How? What is it you require here? What could they advocate for that wouldn’t? And why do you get to say? I’m guessing the flag bothered every one of those victims, too, but I don’t really know. But I think people who knew them would know better than either of us.

                      I wouldn’t call it opportunism, I’d call it it desperation. Effective police reform? A Sisyphean task. Effective gun control? A nonstarter. Revisiting the use of this symbol? Maybe something that can happen.

                      So you’re inclined to see their arriving at a place where having their state elevate that symbol is finally intolerable, and they think there might finally be something that can be done about it as primarily opportunistic, rather than something more sympathetic?

                      Well, I guess you warned us about the cynicism.

                      Frankly, I’m flat out shocked that you’re willing to wear this cynicism toward these particular people at this particular time as openly as you are. I don’t think it’s a good look, no matter how you feel about certain conversations that follow these tragedies. (And focusing on the Stars and Bars actually seems like something fairly new in that context so on those terms, it seems maybe you should welcome it.)

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                      • “So you’re inclined to see their arriving at a place where having their state elevate that symbol is finally intolerable, and they think there might finally be something that can be done about it as primarily opportunistic, rather than something more sympathetic?”

                        I’m a solution kind of guy, but solutions always start with determining the root cause of a problem. I don’t think the Confederate flag, offensive as it may be, is the root cause of this tragedy (he also had pro-apartheid patches on his jacket and no one has said a word about that.) So in my mind, anything that isn’t focused on a root cause solution is a distraction. Maybe opportunism isn’t the right word to use. Misguided? Confused? Perhaps those fit better. Bottom line what will come out of the death of nine people is that a flag might go away, probably angering more of these kind of sick individuals and maybe leading to more deaths.

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                    • Yeah, that’s why one of the more important things to do is to ignore you and your ilk. You are part of the problem, because you want to pretend the problem is something other than what it is, because you don’t want it to be what it is.

                      You see opportunism because the reality revealed here is counter to your interests, which generally remain unchallenged. Now they are, by their own fruit, and you cry foul. Same as it ever was. It you want to see history repeating itself, look in a mirror.

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                      • “You are part of the problem, because you want to pretend the problem is something other than what it is…”

                        I am not pretending about anything. I just see past everyone’s agenda. The problem isn’t the goddamn Confederate flag. I have no issue with it coming down, but it has nothing to do with this crime. It is an ancillary issue at best, and that is being generous. If you can’t see that then you are blinded by your own self-interests.

                        But more importantly…my ilk? It is amazing how much you like to group people together and yet you love to point the finger at other people’s prejudices. I mean, seriously, you’re a first-rate jerk and you’ve admitted to it. You say stupid things, so stupid that you need to send apologetic emails afterwards. Then you find another reason to hate someone and start a whole new round of being a dick. Even when I try to respond to your shitty comments politely, there’s always contempt dripping from your replies. And honestly, it’s not just me. You get into crappy exchanges with far more commenters than I do. At some point isn’t the common denominator obvious? Wouldn’t it also be so much easier for both of us if you just stopped reading my posts or participating in the comment threads? Of course, you will see this as a plea from someone that wants to be able to say racist things and have it go unchallenged. You being the Great Person that you are, it’s your civic duty to put me in my place, but maybe you could just accept that I am tired of you and simply wish you would be adult enough to bother someone else.

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                    • This was not a mere “mass shooting.” Denmark Vesey’s Church was not randomly chosen by someone who lived hours away. The terrorist’s victim were not a random mix of races.

                      Symbolism mattered to the terrorist. It was indeed the very point of what he did. He killed 8 people, but he attacked an entire race.

                      That people are responding to the Symbolism of the church he attack by questioning the government endorsed use of a symbol that antagonizes them and and that was valuable to the terrorist is anything but opportunism.

                      Removing the flag would be a meaningful victory over this terrorist’s worldview. It would mean his attack backfired. He attacked a symbol of black equality; why shouldn’t this increase outrage at such a powerful symbol of black inequality, particularly one flying with the official endorsement of the state where the attack occurred?

                      What’s more, how better to show that the attacker failed than to attack a symbol so central to the worldview that motivated his attack?

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                    • Let’s go after a flag that has been bothering us for years! It’s kind of insulting to the victims.

                      Mke, in all seriousness: how do you know the sentiments regarding the flag of the type of folk who were gunned down, and how do you know what they would or wouldn’t find insulting?

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                      • Meanwhile, when 9/11 happened, conservatives certainly didn’t take advantage of how terrified the nation was to prosecute two pointless wars, waste trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of human lives, foment virulent racism and fear against Muslims, and pass dystopian surveillance state policies. Instead, they asked that we all soberly reflect on the events and react as rationally as possible. Yes, that’s how I remember it happening, don’t you?

                        Admit it: *politicians* take advantage of crises. Their political affiliation is irrelevant. What matters is what they take advantage of it *for*.

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                      • What, exactly, would you gain from “thinking” that would justify the status quo? I’ve seen umpteen attempts to distract (including the OP) and zero substantive defenses.

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        • Why are you surprised that whenever there is a terrible shooting, people point out that we kill ourselves like no other developed nation on earth?

          Many things have been written and will continue to be written on America’s gun ownership rate (the highest in the world), its gun violence (the worst in the developed world), and the political and social forces that keep this from changing.

          It’s directly relevant, and maybe someday people like you will acknowledge those facts and support action to improve them. That you have so far failed to do so doesn’t make continued efforts hopeless or illegitimate.

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          • You might want to read this before you assume I haven’t, ” …acknowledge(d) those facts and support action to improve them.” i would pay special attention to Act III.

            And I’m not surprised that people want to talk about guns…I just don’t see it as productive when they rarely suggest realistic solutions.

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            • Fair enough. I’ll retract that.

              I’m happy to have a conversation about reasonable gun controls. My proposal would be to (1) require registration like cars; (2) make the last registered owner responsible for harm caused unless gun was both (a) adequately protected from theft; and (b) reported stolen despite that adequate protection. That way all the responsible gun owners out there are fine, but when their 5 year old kills someone by accident, the owner is on the hook. I know I’ve hashed that out before on this site, and recall adding some modifications to that plan. That said, the requirement that we only discuss achievable gun controls is pointless, as I have no reason to believe the GOP would entertain any law with any controls on any guns.

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    • By your own admission, the conversation is already different. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember any conversations about recent mass shooting in which racism has been debated so prominently, or the confederate battle flag was mentioned at all.

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    • I believe someone (Will, maybe?) linked that at the time, and as I said then, if he went to college after 1985 or so and didn’t get any heat for putting it up in his dorm room then he either had a very homogeneous social circle or a very meek one. By the time I graduated high school in 1994, the flag, which was displayed everywhere in my school, was pretty damn toxic. People flew it, but they did so in and largely out of defiance.

      Or maybe Texas, the only state to fight two wars to preserve slavery, is just that far behind even Tennessee.

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  10. There are times when I question the immediate introduction of politics into the latest shooting. This – like Charlie Hebdo – is not one of those times. What this man did was an overtly political act, a fact that was clear almost immediately upon the story breaking, and the specific politics of his actions were also transparent very quickly. The politics of an overtly political act cannot simply be pushed aside – to discuss the act is to discuss the politics of the act. That doesn’t mean everyone must automatically agree to anyone’s political demands or agree with their interpretation. But it does mean that discussing or demanding a political response to the act is entirely appropriate.

    It certainly seems fair to ask how and whether the prolonged promotion of Confederate symbolism influences attitudes towards people of color. If, as seems clear, that symbolism influenced this man’s terrorism, it seems entirely appropriate and fair to suggest that this is but the extreme outcome of that influence and that perhaps the strength of that influence exists on a continuum, operating in most cases with more subtle, but nonetheless highly oppressive, results.

    It likewise seems fair to ask how someone so young wound up developing such extraordinarily racist views and seemingly making them such a core part of their identity, with fairly minimal pushback from those around him.

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    • Very well said, . Though the cynic in me wants to hear nothing about this man’s age or any such thing given that folks far younger than him and far less murderous than him (e.g., 15-year-old swimmers, 12-year-olds with toy guns) are treated as wholly responsible for their actions and any response to those actions.

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        • Got it. Yes, that is a very fair question to ask on his own. I think it possible that people can organically arrive at certain stereotypes, especially given the amount of segregation in this country and the way in which the media portrays certain folks For example, if you are fairly isolated individual and don’t know any Black folk, you might reasonable conclude that Black folks are prone to criminality if all you know of them is what you see on TV. However, it is a whole other thing to conclude that Black folks should die and they should die at your hand. That takes a far more active presence of explicit racism and hate, likely encouraged/taught when this guy was in an impressionable stage. It also likely meant he was weak willed and unwilling/unable to challenge the ideas presented to him, as he similarly undoubtedly encountered messages of anti-racism, even if just the glossed over ones he’d have heard at the annual MLK assembly during his schooling. He decided to reject those messages in favor of the far uglier ones.

          And, of course, the degree of segregation in this country and our media portrayals of folks remain a problem.

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    • It’s interesting to note that associating his wearing of the Apartheid South African and Rhodesian flags with racism is unquestioned, but a flag from a country that only existed to preserve the enslavement of black people? A flag associated with the Klan to this day? We can’t know or speak about it! Shush! Nothing to see here, or on the back window of my truck.

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      • You forgot a “flag that was largely thrown in the closet for 90 years until we brought it back out when our legal white supremacy was threatened.”

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      • Dude, the Confederacy was all about Freedom! and opposition to Tyranny! Slavery had nothing to do with it. See, for example, Rothbard:

        My own view of war can be put simply: a just war exists when a people tries to ward off the threat of coercive domination by another people, or to overthrow an already-existing domination. A war is unjust, on the other hand, when a people try to impose domination on another people, or try to retain an already existing coercive rule over them.

        Course, he seems to have a blind spot about the Confederacy’s trying to impose domination on black people as the cause of the civil war. But, you know, so it goes…

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    • We will probably find it out in a few days but the answer is partially the Internet.

      Social Media’s related articles/stories algorithms are remarkably dumb.

      I like “Tablet Magazine” which is an on-line Jewish journal. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen Tablet Magazine post an article on facebook and then have facebook “suggest” articles for me to read below that. Some to many of these articles can be out-right anti-Semitic whackiness and conspiracy theories. Female friends of mine have told me that facebook has done similar stuff for Jezebel only it is racist.

      IIRC the killer dropped out of high school. White Supremacy crime is more frequent among people without high-school educations. I can see a disaffected teenager going down the Internet wormhole and finding Stormfront or some other far-right extremist and white supremacist page.

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  11. Re: The flag. Today is Juneteenth….How many people in the south and the rest of the US, for that matter, are aware of what that means? How many fly the Confed flag celebrate today as a holiday?

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  12. Does (F) stand for Fox, which tried very, very, very hard to claim this was an assault on Christianity — that is, a religious based crime — and not one based on race?

    I’m not sure they’ve actually switched over to “Oh, well, yeah it was racial” yet. Last I checked they were still trying to talk about assaults on Christians.

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  13. The shootings at Emanuel AME church were very clearly triggering for lots of people. And since they were triggering, I’ve been keeping my mouth shut. Black Americans have really good reasons to have feelings of anger, fear and hurt as a result. Emanuel AME wasn’t just “some church”, which would be bad enough, but a church steeped in history and deeply embedded in the struggle of African Americans to stay here and be OK. Sometimes I’m kind of amazed that they want to stay here at all, but the simple fact is, they do. And I’m glad that they do. My life has been enriched by it.

    I’ve spent my life in mathematical and scientific fields. As such, I have been inculcated with more than a little bit of skepticism. I can read all sorts of statements about public affairs that make me think, “Well, probably not”. But that part of me needs to just wait for a bit, and reverberate in sympathetic vibration to the anger, the hurt, and the fear that results in this. If my first words are, “Well, such and such a statement isn’t accurate”, then my message is diluted, and I don’t want it to be.

    Because I stand with them. I have not part in what Dylann Roof said or did. I want no part of it. It seems a bit odd, and honestly it could be a bit demeaning to have to say this. But it is made necessary that I do this by people such as Dylann Roof, who take it upon themselves to speak for white people, and we all know that silence gives consent. They drag the rest of us into it, just as Taney’s decision in Dred Scott, and the Fugitive Slave Act dragged the rest of the US into being complicit in the enslavement of an entire people.

    I did not consent to this. I did not want it. I’ve spent my entire life working against it. I stand with the people of Emanuel AME church and all others who stand with them. That is my first, my foremost, and my most important point.

    Having said the above, I will venture to opine on A, B, C and D. But these are trivia in comparison. In some sense they are a distraction.

    I think Roof is almost certainly mentally ill, not that it excuses him. I’m sure he knew it was wrong. Mental illness doesn’t define anyone, and Roof is no exception. The part of a person that isn’t mentally ill is still present and still contributes to an individual’s behavior. This might have been a “spree killing”, though I haven’t seen enough details to know for sure. “Spree killings” are innately political acts, but that’s a use of “political” that includes the politics of Columbine. They are an extreme version of “see me”. The fact that he fled the scene seems evidence against it being a spree killer, but it’s far from conclusive. He did consciously leave a witness.

    I don’t like the Confederate flag. I will point out, however, that it has no universal meaning, only the meaning that individuals attach to it, and those meanings vary. We fight so much over “what it means”, and it’s dumb to think that someone else might have the same meaning.

    That is to say, I know why some cling to it. It’s because they feel it was shameful that their forebears fought a war to maintain slavery, and also shameful that they lost. They feel that shame redounds to them. They fly the flag and give it their own meaning as a way to avoid facing that shame, but were they to face it down, it would be painful and difficult – for maybe two weeks. And then it would go away. We will be rid of the Stars and Bars when those who hold it let go of their shame, or perhaps more properly, their fear of shame.

    Guns aren’t bad. But our obsession with them is a problem. Automobiles are a lot more dangerous than guns. There are a number of industrial tools that could have accomplished the same work as Roof’s gun, but they don’t have the same meaning. Some people bestow their sense of agency in guns – this seems a big problem to me. Nevertheless, the number of people owning guns in the US continues to decline.

    Racism is most certainly a problem in the US. It has been one for all my life, and it will probably be so after I die. Racism is a “feature”, or perhaps an unintended consequence, of the way human brains are put together. But more importantly, the ideology of White Supremacy still has a hold on a significant fraction of the US citizenry. Maybe 10 to 20 percent overall, concentrations are much bigger in certain regions. In spite of horrors such as this, I think it is in decline. In fact, such horrors as this are kind of the hallmark of decline. Roof’s words, “You rape our women. You are taking over the country. You have to go.” reinforce this. He’s saying, “My side [presumed to be all white people, but it is not!] is losing. Losing is shameful. Unless I respond to this insult with violence, then I am shameful.”

    It’s all nonsense, other than the recognition that White Supremacy as an ideology is losing. It is losing. Compared to the time I was young, it has much MUCH less traction. In the Sixties, black men would be shot for walking in the wrong neighborhood in Chicago, and the crime would not be investigated.

    That’s not an argument to not keep pushing. I’m making an argument against despair.

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  14. So i’ll ask again. Juneteenth? Anybody? Bueller? How many politicians are at Juneteenth celebrations? ( I know who i’ve primarily seen at todays celebrations) How many confed flags do you see at them? Should today be a national holiday? (I’d say yes btw)

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  15. We should probably also remember that black people are Southerners too.

    I don’t believe that they get all warm and fuzzy about the Southern heritage of the Stars and Bars.

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        • A lot of people, including news organizations, seem confused about this, but yes.

          The Stars & Bars was the (first) national flag of the Confederacy, which is dramatically different from the Confederate Navy Jack, which is what we typically are referring to when we talk about “The Confederate Flag.”

          Though the emblem was used in the upper-left corner of later models of the CSA flag, the “Confederate Flag” was never officially the flag of the Confederacy.

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      • No, it was his own fucked up perception of the world that made him kill. A perception informed by a number of things. Thousands of people take drugs every day. Some of them act violent because of it. Far fewer of them go on shooting sprees in which they target a particular racial group. This act was an act of racial terrorism no matter how you slice it. Maybe he wouldn’t have done it without the drugs, but he undoubtedly held deeply racist views which he did not come to wholly on his own.

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        • I’m not sure this is entirely true. He’s most certainly responsible for his own actions and I haven’t seen any indication (yet) that whatever problem he was medicating mitigates his criminal responsibility.

          Nevertheless I think in the rush to compartmentalize mass shootings into broader political debates we’ve often overlooked how blurry a line it seems to be between psychological problems and politically motivated mass killers (what we often now call “terrorists,” though that’s a term I try to avoid). Read up on the people the FBI occasionally arrests (or in some instances entrap) for what are characterized as Islamist terrorist plots. Many of them are, for lack of a better term, losers, who don’t seem quite in touch with reality. They remind me more of Dylan Klebold or John Muhammad than Osama bin Laden.

          My suspicion is that, at least in this era, it’s people who already have some type of personal dysfunction or psychological problem who latch on to outrageous ideologies, as opposed to the ideologies themselves inspiring the violence. I’m not arguing that broader racism still present in our culture or fetishization of firearms has zero role (something that makes me uncomfortable at times even as a gun owner) but I don’t think that’s the root. After all, we’re all exposed to it and yet most people don’t commit brutal murders.

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          • Good comment. Personally speaking here (and without a lot of either theory OR evidence to back it up!) I tend to think that power concepts can go a long way to accounting for some, certainly not all, of these types of things. And by that I mean not only realities about power distributions as they exist and manifest in the world, but also the subjectively held perceptions of particular power structures (either true or false) as they relate to an individual’s conception of their own personal power. Accordingly, I tend to think that people who perceive themselves as powerless within “normal society” and who desire or crave some individual power, would be more inclined to try to destroy the external power structures which they identify as the source of their impotence.

            Part of the reason I think this, by the way (particularly in the US) is that it seems to me US culture is very much shaped by (historically as well as currently) and continues to reinforce a concept of individual power in a unique way: power over others. (One example: Luv of Gunz.)

            Course, I don’t want to push too hard on this theory because I can’t really defend it further than I just did, but also I’m not at all clear that it won’t devolve to circularity, like so many Big Theories of social dynamics.

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            • I agree completely, and I think it’s that dynamic that most explains why a given individual commits a crime of this nature. It’s a frustrating answer for a lot of people I think because it implies that there might not be much that can be done to stop it (or at least not much that’s consistent with living in a free society). Even if we did allow the state to behave in a much more repressive fashion I think the effectiveness would be limited. The knife attacks on elementary schools in China come to mind.

              It doesn’t mean that we don’t have serious problems with race in this country (or gun violence for that matter) but I’m always wary of using an episode of mass murder as the nexus for reform on broader problems, at least in a modern context. During the Jim Crow era through the civil rights movement rampant murder of black people by white people acting in a private capacity to enforce segregation was a problem. At risk of sounding naive I don’t think that’s really true anymore. Now the big racial problems are disparate impact and entrenched economic inequality (not that there isn’t state sanctioned violence that arises from that but I don’t think it’s the same as an embittered racist coming out of the woodwork to commit murder).

              I agree that it’s time for South Carolina to, for example, take down the Confederate flag. It might make people feel good but I’m not sure it changes the forces that give American born black people a disadvantage.

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            • Part of the reason I think this, by the way (particularly in the US) is that it seems to me US culture is very much shaped by (historically as well as currently) and continues to reinforce a concept of individual power in a unique way: power over others. (One example: Luv of Gunz.)

              I can give you some other ways to clarify that:

              1) Women; the whole wife-must-submit-to-husband in biblical marriage; abortion, contraception, rape, etc.; conversations that suggest someone’s rights to power over women;
              2) Parental rights; anti-vaxxers, some home-schoolers, corporal punishment that verges on child abuse etc.;
              3) employees; retail workers having to work off-the-clock to keep their jobs, etc;
              4) illegal immigrant labor;
              5) some policing and all incarceration.

              I could go on, but there are a million points of darkness to make this point.

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              • Yeah, I agree zic. Even the defense of “traditional marriage” strikes me as an attempt to preserve a power structure along the lines we’re talking about. A not-unpopular view of parenting, too. I’d add that the employer/employee relationship as it’s conventionally viewed is another example. I mean, we could spend a lot of time listing not only individual relations, but advocacy as well, that conform to that idea. THing is, it’s not a strictly political thing. Political-economic, might be better to capture it’s scope. [Edit: no that’s not right. It’s cultural.]

                It’s sorta depressing, actually.

                I’d also add that defining the limits of what constitutes “power over others” certainly works against lots of views I adhere to. So it’s a bit of a tricky problem to get any clearer than I did upthread, seems to me.

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              • This is where the promiscuous use of the word “Liberty” becomes problematic.

                Whose liberty?

                Certainly the people who use it (currently conservatives) are not anarchists. They don’t advocate the elimination of laws and regulations.

                Their use of the word liberty contains the understanding of order, so in this context means “liberty for those who currently hold power”.
                In this view, every workplace, every piece of property, every home becomes a feudal fiefdom.

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  16. Well, the thing about C- mental health issues- is it’s going to be the go-to topic changer for anyone who doesn’t want to talk about anything else that might have been going on here. The little bastard could be the most lucid interviewee ever and we’re going to be hearing about how he wasn’t living in reality and there’s no point in talking about racism, guns, Southern culture, or lousy parenting. But, to be honest, I’d be fine with it if they’d blown his brains out during capture and it all remained a mystery.

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    • Another thing: I am very aware how obnoxious and pretentious people who don’t watch TV can sound when bragging about how they don’t watch TV. Mostly, it’s just a matter of me being cheap and not wanting to buy a set that would actually work with my apartment’s hook up. But, I will say I am really glad to have no contact with the 24-hr cable news cycle you talk about here. I heard about this from the Gullah/Geechee Nation page on Facebook and have not had to hear fatuous talking heads pontificating about anything; just people grieving.

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    • This is an understandable sentiment but I’d advise against it. It isn’t justice and it’s that exact mentality that allows so many people to be comfortable with citizens being shot or otherwise brutalized by law enforcement. People who oppose unnecessary use of force generally shouldn’t embrace it when the (in this case hypothetical) person on the receiving end is someone they don’t like.

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  17. Coates:

    The Confederate flag’s defenders often claim it represents “heritage not hate.” I agree—the heritage of White Supremacy was not so much birthed by hate as by the impulse toward plunder. Dylann Roof plundered nine different bodies last night, plundered nine different families of an original member, plundered nine different communities of a singular member. An entire people are poorer for his action. The flag that Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition to this act—it endorses it. That the Confederate flag is the symbol of of white supremacists is evidenced by the very words of those who birthed it:

    Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth…

    This moral truth—“that the negro is not equal to the white man”—is exactly what animated Dylann Roof. More than any individual actor, in recent history, Roof honored his flag in exactly the manner it always demanded—with human sacrifice.

    Take down that flag.

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    • As ever, Coates coaxes us to the root of the truth.

      I doubt anyone realistically thinks that removing the Confederate flag from SC’s Capitol will magically erase the State’s [much less the deep south’s] entrenched racism. That said, banning the Confederate flag from all official grounds seems an obvious and seriously symbolic leap in the right direction.

      I feel like a reference to post-WW2 Germany is warranted. I mean, the German gov’t has indulged no iconography of their horrific anti-Semitic past. Not even for “nostalgia’s” sake. So why can any of our States indulge in Confederate iconography, under the guise of nostalgia?

      Because they can.

      Bottom line, this is South Carolina’s problem to deal with. As much as any of us might really want to help, we really can’t.
      http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/06/19/1394602/-South-Carolina-law-forbids-removal-of-Confederate-flag-from-capitol-and-it-s-padlocked-in-place

      Meanwhile, TX’s guv is working hard on stockpiling [imaginary] gold, because gold matters (!) in both matters of secession and apocalypse.

      Sigh. We’re not so much “united” birds as we are “chained together” birds.

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      • I think there’s a dead-end thought process going on here,

        Recently, the horrors of the politically-correct social-justice warrior have been well plumbed, even by politically-correct SJWs like Chiat and Freddie. It’s like the most awful thing ever, it is, we’re told, suppressing other folk’s free speech.

        So here we have a horrific act, an act only the most extreme racists want to view as anything other than horrible. But the language to condemn that act reinforces the PC SJW language, and that’s bad. So that leaves a lot of people floundering with only reaches for mental health or attacks on Christians to condemn.

        If it weren’t so very very sad, to heartbreakingly horrible, the clown show of how to condemn this without becoming that thing which you have a knee-jerk reaction to condemning would be funny. It’s either time to grow or admit that you cling to your racist ways; to buy into to Roof’s War, or condemn him because he was a racist in words that echo those of the social justice warrior.

        That must be an incredibly uncomfortable place to be.

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        • This is a classic example of the cognitive dissonance I’m describing. The link goes to a Fox News story on Roof’s website; but the video at the top of the page, under the headline about racism, is a discussion about insanity, and what lawyers would have to prove for Roof to get the death penalty. Pathetically, it ends with a lament that the judge let the victims’ family members for publicly forgive roof, making the prosecutor’s job of getting the death penalty more difficult.

          Racism is placed centrally into the context of mental illness here. That’s the answer to the Confederate Flag over the SC capital building, to racist policing and incarceration, to the ongoing and systematic plunder of black lives in this nation. It’s only wrong when it’s mental illness; not when it’s everyday behavior and culture.

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        • I get what you’re saying, .

          It’s just not my point. You’re going meta, and I’m not.

          You’re right, it’s an horrific enough event for everyone on the poliical spectrum to weigh in with all manner of profound thought.

          But we already know, historically, that sometimes the humblest of actions spark our greatest social shifts. If SC finally decided, on its own, to ban the confederate flag on all pubic property, it would make waves. Eventually, anyway.

          I’ve often wondered why it is that banning the confederate flag via public institutions is somehow more controversial than Germans banning the nazi flag.

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            • That was the point I was trying to make. Guess I messed it up in my previous comment.

              If some asshat wants to fly the confederate flag from his front porch, he should be free to do that. But on gov’t grounds, sanctioned by state gov’t? Hell no.

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  18. From Dylann Roof’s manifesto:

    Only a fourth to a third of people in the South owned even one slave. Yet every White person is treated as if they had a slave owning ancestor. This applies to in the states where slavery never existed, as well as people whose families immigrated after slavery was abolished. I have read hundreds of slaves narratives from my state. And almost all of them were positive. One sticks out in my mind where an old ex-slave recounted how the day his mistress died was one of the saddest days of his life. And in many of these narratives the slaves told of how their masters didnt even allowing whipping on his plantation.

    Thus is run of the mill Lost Cause narrative. That narrative does not deserve state sanction. Take the flag down.

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  19. At first I thought you were just being a wise-ass and I was totally ready to chuckle.

    But B) suggests to me you’re not actually kidding. Yikes.

    Re A)
    The objection is not to the confederate flag being flown. After all, here in the good ol’ US of A we’re free to fly whatever flag we want. (Case in point, any Gay Pride parade.)

    No, the objection is to the confederate flag being flown under the auspices of the SC gov’t. Surely you grasp the distinction?

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    • Oh, I understand the distinction…I just don’t agree with the timing. I’ve already called for taking the flag down quite some time ago. But trying to do so 24 hours after a mass shooting based on a picture of the shooter taken with the flag? Now we’re just being punitive. Instead of it being a principled decision to move forward, it becomes a knee-jerk reaction to a symbol. that’s the same kind of stuff we saw post-9/11 and look where it got us.

      This is the conservative in me responding. I know liberals like to fire from the hip, but I don’t believe in rushing to legislate so you can get it into the next 24-hour news cycle. If they took the flag down a month from now, after the community has had a chance to mourn the victims and fully digest what happened and what caused this sick person to do this…would it have any less meaning? I come down on the side of thoughtfulness, not impatience. I’m sure that seems to some people like ignoring the problem, but I like to think it simply means being an adult and not looking for the quickest solution, which ultimately is going to probably have the least impact. I mean, in this very thread people are saying “Gun control is too hard,” and “dealing with mental health issues takes time” so it really feels like this is just low-hanging fruit and going after the flag is more about trying to feel a little better instead of really preventing these kind of tragedies long-term.

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      • This is what I hear you saying: a lot of us have already long recognized that the confederate flag is a socially corrosive, racist symbol. Nevertheless, the only appropriate time to air our objections to that flag is when there isn’t a recent mass murder that is clearly motivated by racism.

        You’re not listening to what you’re saying.

        I’m pretty sure very few people argue that this circumstance isn’t complicated. When are such events not? But crikey, surely viable solutions must be equally complicated. Maybe if that fucking flag and all of the tragic, hateful history it represents ceased to be sanctioned by SC gov’t years ago, such an official gesture might have proven enough of a stop-gap in the tragic trajectory of this young man’s life. We can’t know for sure, of course, but maybe the outcome might have been different for Charleston Emanuel’s families.

        This is what frustrates me: that you’re trying to frame this as just another opportunity for evil liberals to exploit tragedy. It isn’t. If anything, it’s just one more I Told You So moment us evil libruls get to chalk up. Know what? It never feels good.

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        • Please, air your objections. Muddy the waters. Distract from what really happened. Whatever makes you feel better. But while you do that, my suggestion is that you actually read Roof’s manifesto, which doesn’t actually mention the flag at all.

          Roof bought a handgun while he had pending felony charges. We have a handgun problem in the US. Don’t you think that is a more important conversation?

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          • We can have multiple conversations.

            And, of course, the defense mechanism on that one is “you can’t talk about gun control, you’re exploiting the tragedy and its unlikely to lead to legislative action.” Need proof that isn’t a straw man? Read the thread.

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            • nevermoor: We can have multiple conversations.

              Sure. But I don’t really see much of that in this thread. Luckily the rest of the nation isn’t quite so hyper-focused on feel good measures. If a sampling of the national news this morning was any indication they are beginning to seriously discuss mental illness and gun control, which is where the conversation should have been directed from Day 1, those things being the actual common links between all of these mass shootings.

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              • Perhaps read the thread then. I’ve put my proposal out there, to no response.

                Also, I’m not sure how one can make a post snarking on people for reacting to the shooting by saying guns are bad, then criticize people in the body because “mental illness and gun control, . . . is where the conversation should have been directed from Day 1”

                Can you see how matter what anyone says, whether it’s guns (unachievable, reflexive, morbid) , the flag (irrelevant, rushed, culuturally insensitive), mental health (intractable, expensive, and we just did ACA) your side is taking the position that you’d LOVE to help, except that my side just HAPPENS to be asking for the wrong thing. Which is fine, except when applied to all possible things.

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                • The timing is bad for all of these because people only seem to get interested right after a tragedy, so you always wonder how much of it is emotion. That is a red flag to conservatives and it’s why you see push back.

                  I don’t really speak for my side, however I’m telling you that me personally, I totally support a push for legislation on guns or mental health. Why? Because they are common issues in all of these shootings. The Confederate Flag? That’s a one-off.

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                  • If you think people haven’t cared about the Confederate Flag or racism unless/until a shooting occurs, you aren’t paying attention.

                    Edited to add: The problem, as we continue to see, is that these issues only get addressed when the right people start caring. So, yea, those of us who have abhorred the flag and engaged in anti-racism work might double down on our efforts now that more people are paying attention, but that doesn’t mean we care any less or that the issues are any less relevant. You were just positioned such that you didn’t have to listen to folks like us unless you chose to. But Black folks and others offended by the flag didn’t have a choice in South Carolina. They had to see that flag fly, had to drive down those streets named for Confederate “heroes”.

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                    • I’d rather talk about the deplorable schools in SC than the flag.
                      SC is a horrid state, and there’s a reason Edwards used it when he did that Two Americas bit.

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                      • I hate to pull this line on you, but I was writing about the controversy surrounding the flag while you were still in elementary school. It’s kind of amazing that you think I missed the conversation for the last 20 years. I’m well aware that this is an old conversation. What I have been trying to say is that, while that conversation may be very important to have at some point, it has NOTHING to do with this shooting. I don’t have any patience for focusing on this issue when there are other issues far more important. The fact that you are so passionate about it makes me think you really don’t understand these crimes at all.

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                        • That assumes A) that the flag didn’t play a role — something we don’t know yet and B) a zero sum game with regards to attending to these matters and making change. Do you think the South Carolina legislature can only pass one bill this year and it has to be EITHER directed at removing the flag or addressing gun control or mental health?

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                          • At this point, we have a lot more evidence that the flag played a role in this case – or, put more properly, that the worldview the flag represents played a role in this case – than that mental illness played a role in this case. Indeed, under the circumstances, the instance that mental illness was primarily to blame, rather than a desire to terrorize a race, feeds into one of the grave complaints about racism in all of this – a Muslim who did what Roof did would be called a terrorist, a black man would be called a thug (and raise all sorts of questions about “black on black” crime), but when a white dude does it? He’s an outlier and it’s automatically blamed on mental illness with relatively little evidence.

                            Additionally, , you’re ignoring that this wasn’t just *any* mass shooting – it was an act with a specific purpose, aimed to terrorize a particular group of people, which just so happens to be the same group of people, and for similar reasons, as the flag terrorized.

                            People are fixating on the flag here in no small part because it makes what happened all the more painful for them, and is doing so right now – unlike other shootings, this was not a random act (and despite what the FBI Director said, it was a terrorist act, or else the term “terrorism” has no meaning…which, come to think of it, is also true).

                            Not every response to an attack has to be aimed at prevention of future attacks, particularly in a case like this, where the attack had clear aims. Sometimes an appropriate response to an attack involves defiance, or undermining a worldview that led to an attack, or trying to mitigate the pain or fear an attack causes. That is precisely what is happening here.

                            Certainly, a lot of people who actually knew the victims seem to have no problem with the demands to take the flag down.

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                            • “…people are fixating on the flag here in no small part because it makes what happened all the more painful for them…”

                              Does it? Is that what people are actually saying?

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                              • Based on my twitter feed, the answer to that is most definitely yes. Not that this is the sole motivation, but it’s definitely a big one. One of the first tweets (if not the first) I saw on this was expressing horror at the sight of the Confederate battle flag flying at full mast – higher than the American flag – just a short distance from the church.

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                                  • I honestly don’t know the answer to this, but in terms of whether it inflicts pain on people already hurting, I don’t see how this matters. What matters is that the sight of it hurt people who were already hurting, and they asked that something be done about it.

                                    Let’s also not pretend that this was just a paranoid schizophrenic who, in a fit, randomly stumbled into a building that just so happened to be a black church. This man had a particular motive. He was well aware of the symbolism of what he was doing – it was a big chunk of his point, if not the entire point. It’s a perfectly natural response to ask that the state stop sanctioning a symbol that was important to him.

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                                  • I’ve been avoiding this conversation, but It seems worth asking — real question, not a challenge posing as a question — is it not a government flag?

                                    It’s flying on a government building, it cannot be taken down without a 2/3 vote by both houses of the state assembly. Does this not count as a government flag?

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                                    • @mark-thompson

                                      A point of clarification: The flag at the memorial is fixed and as such can’t be lowered. Now, practically speaking, that wouldn’t stop someone from jumping in a cherry picker and taking the damn thing off the pole temporarily, at least until the other flags were put back at full staff. Though, the fact that new legislation is required to actually remove the flag might have made that a thornier issue. I don’t know how the flag code applies to such installations, but, as Mark points out, common sense and decency should prevail.

                                      Mike, if I’m acting like you have been under a rock it is because you are acting like you have been under a rock. You seem to have staked out a claim that people are only starting to care about the flag now. That sure as hell isn’t the case, as your stated experience ought to tell you.

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                                      • SC has already had the debate on the flag and it stayed up. Wouldn’t taking it down temporarily sort of be an acknowledgement that is is offensive? And while we might agree that it is, the legislature isn’t going to admit to that.

                                        As for my under-the-rock status: I didn’t see the flag in the national media recently until after the shooting. So while I’m sure some people were still worrying about it as a prominent symbol of Southern (not Northern) racism…it has certainly only become a hot topic due to folks like yourself creating a very thin link between it and this crime.

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                    • Variations on the Confederate flag fly in seven Southern states. There is a Confederate cemetery 2 miles from my house. We have Confederate memorials on very public streets in Louisville. I was a history major. I read the news. I don’t know what rock you think i have been living under for the last 20 years, but this thing about me being ‘positioned to ignore the issue’ is really getting silly.

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                      • My very real problem with doing a damn thing about the flag is that it feels like a sop to very injured parties, who are rightfully agrieved about issues that are far more Expensive than the flag.

                        Fix the other stuff, and then we can talk about how unnecessary the flag is.

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                        • Kim, that would be a terrific argument, if aimed at people who want to take down the flag and do exactly nothing else.

                          Republicans, in other words.

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                          • LWA,
                            This is south carolina. It is run by republicans, in case you’re deaf dumb blind and also oblivious.

                            South Carolina, the state whose official policy is “beggar thy neighbor”.

                            Yeah, that South Carolina.

                            Doesn’t surprise me ONE WHIT that folks there would rather bitch about a flag than actually Spend MONEY.

                            …. this isn’t Arkansas. Hell, this isn’t Tennessee.

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                        • In other words: once you do the unachievable stuff, then we can let you do the achievable stuff. See! We’re Reasonable!

                          (but don’t talk about the unachievable stuff because it distracts from very real pain and is simply tilting at windmills)

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                        • My very real problem with doing a damn thing about the flag is that it feels like a sop to very injured parties, who are rightfully agrieved about issues that are far more Expensive than the flag.

                          ,

                          I’m willing to go as far with you as to say, in a time like this, let’s try to listen to those close to the injured parties to find out what they want and how they feel.

                          But in that case… can we do that? Can we not decide on our own cursory judgement that the injured parties or those close to them feel like this effort is a sop rather than something that can be done in the short term to lessen the hurt while the situation regarding whether anything is actually going to change in terms of our being able to fix the other stuff?

                          I mean… really? You think you know they feel this is a sop and they don’t want it done because there are bigger issues (on which progress has been terribly frustrated)?

                          It seems to me like this push has emanated from pretty close to the epicenter of all this. But I’m willing to say I don’t know, and if those close-in feel like it’s just an unwelcome distraction, by all means, the issue can be tabled until it’s no longer being fueled by this event. (Though now it does seem to be leaving the station…) But I don’t think you know they feel like it’s a sop. It doesn’t really seem like they do to me.

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                  • you always wonder how much of it is emotion. That is a red flag to conservatives and it’s why you see push back.

                    Bull. Shit. The “red flag to conservatives” is “any attempt to enact any gun control legislation.” It’s doing THAT that creates push back. The excuse changes depending on the point in the news cycle. Now “it’s morbid and disrespectful because we should all be healing.” Later “it’s unnecessary because we should just enforce the laws we have.” And when the NRA introduces its next legislative kick “it’s common sense freedom and self-defense to further roll back limitations.”

                    Ride the issue for a couple mass-shooting news cycles (which shouldn’t take long at the rate they come in this country) and explain to me which day in the cycle is the appropriate time to actually push for this stuff.

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                    • I will be the very first in line to criticize the Right on gun control. I’ve been very vocal on this and I agree with your assessment 100%. With that said, I think where you and I differ is that I am looking at this shooting as part of a (growing) national trend that I want to see dealt with. That’s why I think we need to talk about guns and mental health, no matter how hard that conversation will be. Both sides are completely stupid on the issue, which is why I am a registered Independent.

                      What it feels like to me is that you are going too micro on this and saying, “We can’t solve the bigger problem but we can do this one little thing to make people feel better.” As pointed out, if we burned every Confederate flag in the South, it wouldn’t end the kind of racism that led to this crime. Having a tough conversation about guns might actually prevent the next shooting. I choose Option B.

                      I just want to make it clear here: I think you and i are much closer than you want to believe on the issue of guns and I share your frustrations. I just don’t think that is enough to stop trying.

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                      • Who said anything about “stop trying”. I seem to recall saying exactly the reverse. And I don’t see any liberals on here opposing a discussion about gun control (much unlike, for example, your opening post).

                        I’d love to do that, and I hope this is the tragedy that crosses the line and breaks the NRA’s death-grip. I’m also happy to talk about what gun control should look like (recognizing that absolutely none of it would pass this Congress). But I would also like to use the occasion of a man’s attempt to restart the Civil War to stop state sponsorship of the Confederate States of America. I so far haven’t heard a single reason that we shouldn’t on the merits of the position, or a single argument (as opposed to a bald assertion) that doing so will have a 0% chance to save at least one life, either in this shooting or going forward.

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                        • “…much unlike, for example, your opening post).”

                          You misunderstood the OP, and that is probably my fault. I wasn’t saying we shouldn’t have the conversation. I was saying that every time there is a mass shooting we roll out the same talking points very quickly and then everyone entrenches. The flag thing is actually an interesting wrinkle here, but I still believe it ultimately a distraction.

                          And i’m being honest when I say that not only does it have a 0% chance of preventing any future shootings but it may actually cause more.

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                          • And i’m being honest when I say that not only does it have a 0% chance of preventing any future shootings but it may actually cause more.

                            Oh come on. You hicks don’t know what the f–k you’re talking about. You make it seem like you actually understand the people this will impact.

                            Pardon the snark (obviously, it’s not to you), but I’ll go into full-on asshole mode if I keep reading the comments here. Maybe I should step outside. ;)

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                        • But I would also like to use the occasion of a man’s attempt to restart the Civil War…

                          I prefer to call it a heinous act of terrorism but I guess the whole imagery of a racist nutbag firing on Fort Sumter may appeal to some people.

                          that doing so will have a 0% chance to save at least one life, either in this shooting or going forward.

                          As opposed to taking it down because it increases the chances by .00000000000000001%? Maybe we have different views of human nature.

                          There are lots of reasons to want to remove that flag, but this isn’t one of them.

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                            • You know best.

                              Oh nice. We finally agree on something.

                              So someone says he wants to start a Civil War and you take a correct fact and employ it as a silly rhetorical tactic knowing damn well that a single terrorist has about as much chance of starting a real civil war as I do waking up 6 feet tall with a vegan’s physique.

                              I stand by what I said.

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                              • I knew we could agree!

                                As to the other thing, of course he failed. But that was his goal. And he drove a long way to do so in a historically significant place. I think he would have been less likely to do so had the state itself not endorsed the very symbol of that war.

                                And, of course, it makes the symbolism of finally removing that endorsement significant and appropriate in a way it wouldn’t be had this been an Aurora or Sandy Hook shooting.

                                Do you not see the connection?

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                          • There are lots of reasons to want to remove that flag, but this isn’t one of them.

                            What’s the countervailing interest. If doing something good might also save a life, and there isn’t any reason not to do that thing, why do we need to quibble about which reason is motivating us to do that thing?

                            Or do you actually think taking the flag down would be bad, but not want to actually defend that position?

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                            • What’s the countervailing interest

                              A symbol representing a group of states that attempted an illegal/ unconstitutional act of secession for very immoral reasons is not one that should be celebrated. Plus, and I think you mentioned this before, it’s a symbol that was used to terrorize people during the Civil Rights movement. What possible reasons are there to support the existence of this wretched monstrosity of a symbol?

                              However, I’m with Mike on this because it’s an easy opportunistic target, but it gets us no closer to addressing the issues.

                              If doing something good might also save a life

                              I’m very skeptical of that claim.

                              there isn’t any reason not to do that thing, why do we need to quibble about which reason is motivating us to do that thing?

                              There isn’t but you’re the one holding a view about saving lives that I don’t think matches my view of reality.

                              Or do you actually think taking the flag down would be bad, but not want to actually defend that position?

                              Do you mind explaining this a little further before I respond? What made you think I could possibly hold that position?

                              The reason I’m asking is that I’m trying to determine whether the question is really in good faith or if you’re throwing this out as some kind of cheap shot. You and I have debated in the past and it’s been civil so I don’t want to cause a misunderstanding if I take you the wrong way.

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                                • The assumption in such situations always seems to be that those who disagree with me are acting in bad faith, dishonoring the victims, and such.

                                  Is it possible that gun violence makes those who oppose guns feel the urgency of their beliefs that much more strongly in the moment? Is it possible that racist violence makes those who oppose its symbols recognize their perniciousness that much more clearly in the moment? Apparently the answer can only be no.

                                  This is not to say that one cannot disagree with the positions people take in the aftermath of tragedy, but the tactic is so often, as it is MIke’s here staring in the OP, to attack their motives.

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                                  • By the way, the fact that the person whom I would say is the most blatantly racist among both the authors and regular commenters at OT (I know at least one person who sees it not as racism but insensitivity or blindness) is the one who most often feels compelled to post about race here is perhaps one of the clearest signs of this place’s lack of diversity.

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                                    • And with that insightful comment, we’re going to close this down. Everyone please head over to Dennis’ post if you want to continue the conversation.

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                              • To be clear: I’m claiming that removing a public sign that the State of South Carolina supports a racist regime might prevent people from engaging in racially-motivated crimes. I’m not saying it will. Are you skeptical that there is any possibility of that being true?

                                As to the last part, I’m trying to understand people’s real objection, because “sure we should take the flag down, but doing it NOW is nonsense” seems like such a transparently weak position. If there is some other objection, I’ve yet to hear it.

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                        • Thanks, but there’s only one person here I really have a problem with and I have already addressed that. Nevermoor, Kazzy and the others haven’t crossed any lines in my book. I appreciate the passion even if I disagree with them.

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                          • Next time, if you’re going to start something like this, please publish it on a Monday so I can be around for it LOL.

                            It’s less to me about who crossed lines and more about the overall tone which has completely rubbed me the wrong way. I’m not going to try to escalate it with anyone since I have no problems with anyone here (believe it or not).

                            I’ll just leave it at that and let this play out. Anyone that wants to reach out to me privately can. They know I’m usually a pleasure to deal with via email or FB (no, really I mean it this time).

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            • My understanding from reading up on it last night is that he bought it from a dealer. I agree that pending charges may not show up, but that should be an easy fix (placing some kind of hold on a person’s name in the system). Those are the kind of conversations that make a lot more sense to me.

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          • So because he doesn’t mention the flag explicitly, that means the flag and what it symbolizes has nothing to do with his actions?

            “Only a fourth to a third of people in the South owned even one slave. Yet every White person is treated as if they had a slave owning ancestor. This applies to in the states where slavery never existed, as well as people whose families immigrated after slavery was abolished. I have read hundreds of slaves narratives from my state. And almost all of them were positive. One sticks out in my mind where an old ex-slave recounted how the day his mistress died was one of the saddest days of his life. And in many of these narratives the slaves told of how their masters didnt even allowing whipping on his plantation.”

            -and-

            “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.”

            -and-

            “I hate the sight of the American flag. Modern American patriotism is an absolute joke. People pretending like they have something to be proud while White people are being murdered daily in the streets. Many veterans believe we owe them something for “protecting our way of life” or “protecting our freedom”. But im not sure what way of life they are talking about. How about we protect the White race and stop fighting for the jews. I will say this though, I myself would have rather lived in 1940’s American than Nazi Germany, and no this is not ignorance speaking, it is just my opinion. So I dont blame the veterans of any wars up until after Vietnam, because at least they had an American to be proud of and fight for.”

            If you can’t cull from that some really perverse sympathies for the Confederacy and their war to protect slavery, you are being really myopic.

            I mean, he never explicitly declares, “I am a racist.” Does that mean he wasn’t?

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            • Let me try to make this really simple: Ballpark guess, how many of these shootings do you think the Confederate flag played a role in? And if your answer is anything other than ‘all of them’ do you think there are some other factors that actually do correlate between all of them?

              13 killed – April 20, 1999 – Columbine High
              9 killed – March 21, 2005 – Red Lake High School
              8 killed – December 5, 2007 – Omaha, Nebraska
              32 killed – April 16, 2007 – Virginia Tech
              10 killed – March 10, 2009 – Alabama
              8 killed – March 29, 2009 – Carthage, North Carolina
              13 killed – April 3, 2009 – Binghamton, New York
              13 killed – November 5, 2009 – Fort Hood, Texas
              8 killed – January 19, 2010 – Appomattox, Virginia
              8 killed – August 3, 2010 – Manchester, Connecticut
              8 killed – October 12, 2011 – Seal Beach, California
              12 killed – July 20, 2012 – Aurora, Colorado
              27 killed – December 14, 2012 – Sandy Hook Elementary School
              12 killed – September 16, 2013 – Washington Navy Yard
              9 killed – June 17, 2015 – Charleston, SC

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              • Jesus Christ, … talk about goal post shifting. So unless and until EVERY mass shooting is directly attributable to the Confederate Flag, we cannot discuss its potential role in ANY shooting?

                Ya know the one thing those shootings all have in common? Guns. So do you want to talk about guns? Because I bet my last dollar you sure as hell don’t.

                Let me ask you… at what point would it be appropriate to discuss the Confederate Flag’s impact on violence?

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                • The flag had no role in this shooting. Zero.

                  “Ya know the one thing those shootings all have in common? Guns. So do you want to talk about guns? Because I bet my last dollar you sure as hell don’t.”

                  Ah, , you are mistaken. I absolutely think guns are an appropriate discussion topic, as well as mental health issues. Why? Because that has the potential to impact future mass shootings far more than this flag nonsense.

                  You know why people want to go after the flag? Because they view it as easy. It’s low-hanging fruit so they can feel like they accomplished something after a tragedy. I have no time for feel-good bullshit. I want to see real policy changes that might actually have an impact on future shootings. This whole flag discussion is a complete waste of time.

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