The Charleston Shooter & the Confederate Flag

Ah, here we are again. Another mass shooting by an angry young white male. What will it be this time? What will we blame for this senseless violence? Gun control? Racial hatred? Mental illness? Violent video games? Sexual promiscuity? The Chinese? Lesula monkeys?1 Those weird looking motherfuckers. On and on the merry-go-round we go. Aren’t you tired of it? I know I am. So let’s do what white people do so often and dismiss the Charleston Shooting as nothing more than an isolated incident. All the while convincing ourselves that the ubiquitously pervasive negative attitude many Americans possess towards people of color is nothing more than a liberal-conceived tactic used to deflect blame away from black people’s own cultural shortcomings. There, don’t you feel better now?

*If you don’t know what I’m talking about. I am referring to the Dylann Roof shooting in which a young, white supremacist went into the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC and opened fire, killing 9 black worshipers. According to a survivor of the shooting, Roof was quoted as saying “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”* 

This time around, we’ve decided to focus on the Confederate flag. The Confederate flag is an antiquated relic of a time in America’s history when a divided nation of white men fought and killed each other to decide if black men should be kept in chains as property or be considered human beings. For Northerners, taking down the flag and removing it from public grounds is a no-brainer. However, it isn’t so simple for many people living in the South. For many white Southerners, the Confederate flag isn’t so much about racial discrimination as it is an iconic piece of history that represents Southern heritage and pride. The South rebelled against the North because the North was trying to impose their own values on them and so the flag is viewed as a symbol of independence and rebellion against an overreaching federal government. This idea is central to Southern identity. It is why so many Southerners are gun-owners, why they are in favor of state right’s, and why so many want a “smaller government”. Even the forced removal of the Confederate flag feeds into the notion of the North constantly imposing its will on the South.

That all said, the idea that the Confederate flag or any Confederate memorabilia have nothing to do with race is just ridiculous. Anyone who doubts the racially-charged historical connotation attached to the Confederacy and its flag is just woefully and/or willfully ignorant. The original purpose of the flag may have been to commemorate those who died during the war and serve as a reminder of our country’s history. Nevertheless, this was the same flag flown by Southern slave owners in 1860, it was the same flag flown by the KKK in 1920’s and it was the same flag flown by opponents of the Civil Rights movement in the 1940’s, 50’s and the 60’s. It is the same flag used by people to doltishly propagate their racist beliefs. This isn’t just a case of “a few bad apples ruining something for everybody”. The Confederate flag is unequivocally representative of racial hatred and discrimination. It is emblematic of slavery and segregation. It represents racial inequality, injustice, and ignorance. Of course, it should be removed from the State Capitol. But will removing the flag from the South Carolina Capitol building or from Walmart storeshave any real effect on racial relations in the United States? No.

confederate white black march 60s

This current controversy over the Confederate flag/memorabilia is just an example of how racial discussion in America is often relegated to sporadic, non-sequitur issues that have minuscule effect in tackling the real problem. Whether it’s gun control, or torture, or immigration reform, or the NSA spy-program (which was recently ruled illegal by the Supreme Court), we dismiss these topics because they are difficult to talk about. Instead, we choose an easier topic to tackle, something that we can all clearly pinpoint and address with minimal effort. That’s not to say that the Confederate flag isn’t a controversial subject that doesn’t need to be debated, it’s just that it deflects from the real problem of race. Forcibly removing Confederate memorabilia from the marketplace is similar to how we punished Donald Sterling. Nothing was actually done to change why/how he felt about minorities, we simply punished him for feeling that way without teaching him why he was wrong. It is a perverted form of social justice. Silencing/bullying those with opposing viewpoints is a terrible way to enact cultural change.3 Instead of dealing with ancillary issues that only mask the deep-seated problems or bullying those who disagree into silent dereliction, let’s stay focused on what’s important. America will never solve it’s race problem unless we all gain the courage to talk about it honestly and openly. Real change comes from authentic action.

PS: In my opinion, individuals should have the right to show the Confederate flag as is their right via the First Amendment. Just as it is our right to ostracize them for being ignorant bigots.

PPS: South Carolina has a dark history with racism. Strom Thurmond was a South Carolina Senator who was a proud segregationist and opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1957. He even conducted the longest filibuster ever by a lone senator, at 24 hours and 18 minutes in length, nonstop, to try and stop it (NPR). What’s even crazier is that he proudly served his state from 1956 to 2003. TWO THOUSAND AND THREE! South Carolinian’s proudly re-elected a racist over and over and over and over.



This is a Lesula monkey. Look at this motherfucker. What even is this??! I'm honestly repulsed. Uncanny Valley status.This is a Lesula monkey. Look at this thing. What even is this??! I’m honestly repulsed. Uncanny Valley status.
And look at this howler monkeys, look at his balls. Like, how can I compete with that?!?! And look at this howler monkey, look at his balls. Like, how can any guy compete with that?!?

2. Ebay, Amazon, Walmart, and other companies have banned Confederate memorabilia from their stores. It’s always interesting to see how business and politics interact. I actually think this will hurt Walmart the most, because of the socio-economic makeup of their consumer base.

3. Social Justice Warriors

The Washington Redskins

This past year, the NFL has faced a slew of criticism/lawsuits due to its handling of domestic abuse cases, its substance abuse/PED policies and its concussion protocols. The NFL is also facing controversy over the team name of the Washington Redskins (founded in 1932). A growing number of Americans, of all races, have argued that the team should change its name because it is offensive to Native Americans. The US Patent office agreed with that sentiment and has revoked the trademark for the term “Redskins”. Fans of the team argue that there is no need to change the name because Native Americans are not actually offended by it. They point to numerous surveys that show that Native Americans actually support the name. Except, who have been conducting these surveys? White people of course, but don’t worry, you can trust white people because we’ve always been nothing but forthright in our relations with Native Americans. It’s unlikely that we’ll ever obtain an accurate assessment of what percentage of the Native American population finds the name offensive. Even if you believe that nowadays the term “Redskins” doesn’t hold the same abhorrently negative connotation, the historical context of the word is rooted in bigotry and hatred. It’s evident that this was not a term used to symbolize “honor and respect”, as the owner of the Washington Redskins, Dan Snyder, has argued.

From The Daily Republican newspaper in Winona, Minnesota from Sept. 24, 1863.                                                                    Click here for another historical document

The dictionary currently defines the world as a slur: “Redskins (noun): dated or offensive – An American Indian”. You know what’s also dated? The argument that we “can’t change the name/definition” of something. Sure. This argument is just a way for people to mask their bigotry. It is the same argument used by opponents of gay marriage. Many teams in the MLB, NBA, and the NFL have changed their team names. Two NBA teams changed their names this year! The New York Jets, the best team in football, used to be called the New York Titans. In 1997, the then-owner of the Washington Bullets changed his team’s name to the Washington Wizards “because of the violent connotation” attached to the name. So “Bullets” is an unacceptable name, but “Redskins” is all good?

Ok, then play along with me for a second. Let’s hypothetically change some other team names and see how we all feel. How about we change the New York Jets to the New York 9/11s? Don’t worry its all good, because although people may find that offensive right now, in the future, the 9/11’s will remind us of an important part of our history. It will be used to “honor” those involved. How about we change the Washington Redskins to the Washington Globalist Jews? Dan Synder, a Jew, would be cool with that right? How about The San Francisco Smug Prius-Driving Venture Capitalist Hippies? People argue that if we change the Redskins name, we should change the Kansas City Chiefs name as well; same goes for the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves. Well, those aren’t racial slurs, although still calling Native Americans, “Indians”, is pretty ridiculous and I think that should be changed as well. Whether or not cultural appropriation should be considered tolerable behavior or not is debatable. I don’t have all the answers and I certainly think political correctness is a matter of opinion.

There is a reason why this issue has just recently become controversial and why white people ( >70%) don’t think that Redskins is an offensive name. It’s because most white people will never meet a Native American person, or at least, not knowingly. There are only ~3 million of them, many of whom live in extreme poverty on reservations. Ever since the first1 colonists showed up on Plymouth Rock, Native Americans have had their land and their rights stripped away from them. We have continually caricatured Native American’s and their culture by using them as mascots/marketing purposes. We’ve been conditioned to ignore racism directed at Native Americans, but hopefully, this will change. Twenty years ago, homosexuals/bisexuals were not thought of as equal to straight people. In the 1950’s, white people thought it was disgusting to share the same bathroom as a black person. Progress is a slow process.


“Honoring” Native Americans

Economically speaking, the revenue from new jersey/memorabilia sales would surpass the expenses used to manufacture the new products. The team name change would actually make the owner/the NFL a lot of money.  After hundreds of years in which white men slaughtered, conquered, raped, and relocated Native Americans. Maybe we should, I don’t know, give them a fucking break? Is it really so hard to give them this one thing; this tiny thing to make up for years of discrimination/awfulness? I guess we could always tell them that we are going to change the name and sign a contract with them stating as such, but then a few months down the line go back on the deal and forcibly move them all to Alaska or something.


1 Plymouth Rock was one of the first successful colonies established by the British, but a prior attempt had been made on Roanoke Colony in the late 16th-century. It failed miserably.