Perfect Storm Coming

Before I begin, let’s be clear – my primary feeling is one of shock and horror about this morning’s events, and embarrassment that I live in a country that tolerates this kind of carnage as a matter of course. That said, there is a predictable set of reactions that has been set in motion, and while I don’t agree with the gross caricaturization that these reactions stand for, they’re gonna happen, they’re already happening and I’m just noting that fact. Every death is a tragedy, but some are more representative of a political/social/legal problem of long standing, and some are not. There is a centuries old tradition of politically motivated violence against African-Americans and other minorities, but there is no similar history of organized black violence against whites, and there certainly is no such movement today. The racist efforts to justify police violence against minorities and to stifle voting by minorities, however, remain alive and well. Something to remember when the inevitable “look, a racist gay black man who killed a WHITE WOMAN! What about that? Huhhuhhuhhuhhuh?” reactions go mainstream – which will come soon, rest assured about that. Just remember that historically, much of the extra-judicial violence (lynchings, etc.) against minorities was drummed up explicitly about fears of sexual exploitation. Now we can throw homosexuality into it as well and just watch that mothefucker burn. Having said all that, and hopefully headed off any misunderstandings about what I’m saying, let’s now proceed to the point.

This Roanoke story is shaping up to be the shitstorm of the millennium. We have: (a) a dead blond white woman, (b) another dead white man and a seriously injured white woman, (c) a self-described African-American gay man on a self-professed racial rampage, and (d) a right wing hype machine just slobbering to retaliate for the Charleston shooting, the Black Lives Matter/All Lives Matter dustup, and a host of related racial issues.

So get ready for a whole lot more of this. And it won’t be just on right wing blogs. By tomorrow, every conservative blog will be running the racial angle. I give Fox 24-36 hours, CNN 3 days, and MSNBC will condemn it while making sure to discuss it in excruciating detail within a day or two thereafter.

Don’t believe me? Well, take a look at the front page of the Breitbart blog (no links for those assholes). Read the post if you must, but as the saying goes, whatever you do, DON’T GET OUT OF THE BOAT and read the comments. You’ll leave your sanity and your soul behind, if you get out alive. Trust me on this.

  

Southern Legacy Smackdown

On Monday, Diane Rehm had a panel on her show consisting of Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Daniel Webster from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, and Georgetown University Law School professor Paul Butler. One of the callers to the show brought up, not in a particularly hostile manner, the “Southern legacy” argument about the Confederate flag.

Butler let the caller have it right between the eyes:

I have no respect for your ancestors. As far as your ancestors are concerned, I shouldn’t be a law professor at Georgetown. I should be a slave. That’s why they fought that war. I don’t understand what it means to be proud of a legacy of terrorism and violence. Last week at this time, I was in Israel. The idea that a German would say, you know, that thing we did called the Holocaust, that was wrong, but I respect the courage of my Nazi ancestors. That wouldn’t happen. The reason people can say what you said in the United States, is because, again, black life just doesn’t matter to a lot of people.

Boom. Thank you. More of this, please. I believe we’re done here.

h/t Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns and Money.

Another Flag Falls

George Wallace weeps. Alabama!

On the order of Gov. Robert Bentley, the Confederate battle flag which stands at the foot of the confederate memorial on the state Capitol grounds was taken down this morning.

Two workers came out of the Capitol building about 8:20 a.m. and with no fanfare quickly and quietly took the flag down. They declined to answer questions.

Moments later Gov. Bentley emerged from the Capitol on his way to an appearance in Hackleburg. Asked if he had ordered the flag taken down, the governor said, “Yes I did.”

Asked his reasons for taking it down and if it included what happened in Charleston last week, the governor said, “Yes, partially this is about that. This is the right thing to do. We are facing some major issues in this state regarding the budget and other matters that we need to deal with. This had the potential to become a major distraction as we go forward. I have taxes to raise, we have work to do. And it was my decision that the flag needed to come down.”

Hell Is Freezing Over

First South Carolina.

“Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it is time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds,” Haley said during a news conference attended by Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, along with other state leaders.

Then Mississippi?

Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn said Monday night that the Confederate emblem in the state’s official flag has to go.

“We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us,” Gunn, a Clinton Republican, said in a statement. “As a Christian, I believe our state’s flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed. We need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi’s flag.”

Now Walmart? What? Politics is one thing, but money is, well, money.

Walmart, the country’s largest retailer, will remove all Confederate flag merchandise from its stores, the company told CNN Monday.

The announcement is the latest indication that the flag, a symbol of the slave-holding South, has become toxic in the aftermath of a shooting last week at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. Gov. Nikki Haley announced in a Monday afternoon news conference that she supports removing the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds.

I’m not naive, but the momentum to do something here is palpable and it’s moving very, very fast. And it may be a symbolic something, and may not go as far as I or others would like, but symbols do matter – taking them away from those inclined to hatred and violence is a constructive thing. Taking away the Confederate flag, or at least the state’s close affiliation with that flag and all that it represents, is a positive step. One of many that are needed, but a step forward.

Glass Houses?

Why is this monument to Maryland troops who served in the Confederate military still standing in Rockville? It’s right between the Circuit Court and the old 1891 red brick courthouse, which is still being used. Not very subtle.

I think it’s long past time for this monument to go – last time I looked, Montgomery County is minority-majority now.

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You can’t tell with certainty from these photos that it’s a Confederate memorial, but the picture below makes it clear (“CSA” on the belt buckle), as does the description of the monument accompanying the photo:

The monument, dedicated on June 3, 1913, is significant for its commemoration of the people of Montgomery County who served in the Confederacy. It was sponsored by the E. V. White and Ridgely Brown chapters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Ridgely Brown Camp of the United Confederate Veterans. The Falvey Granite Company of Washington, DC, built the statue at a cost of $3,600. It is a customized example of the common soldier memorial, a type first used after the Civil War and popular through the First World War.

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Thanks to @Gabriel Sikowitz for posting the first two photos and bringing this to my attention on Twitter.

Just A Crazy Guy

Yeah, that crazy white kid with a gun, he’s just a nutball weirdo. Right wing white supremacist racism? No, no, what would make you even suggest such a thing? And remember, racism is dead – the Wall Street Journal said it, so it must be true.

Wait, what?

The head of a white supremacist group cited by accused Charleston, S.C., gunman Dylann Roof made thousands of dollar in campaign contributions to prominent Republican candidates in recent years, including three seeking the GOP presidential nomination.

There is no evidence that the campaigns, including those of former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.), Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) were aware of the group’s past statements, and some have already said the money will be returned. They were moving quickly to disassociate themselves from it, with Cruz’s campaign the first to announce that it would return money it had received.

The contributions were first reported by the Guardian.

Whoops. Quick, somebody change the subject.

And another thing – anybody surprised that it was a foreign news outlet that made the connection between Roof and Holt, come on. The docile US media doesn’t like to stir things up like this – they prefer the Both Sides Do It routine, and look away in embarrassment when it’s pointed out – frequently – that this is a gigantic load of bullshit.

The Kid Was Not Crazy

Whenever a white, obviously racially motivated kid goes off and kills some black people, the knee jerk reaction by those who benefit most from white supremacy all join the chorus: “he’s crazy. He’s insane. No person in their right mind would do something like this.”

I did a quick search on this topic just now and I found the awesomest batshit crazy headline ever – “JEW MEDIA GIDDY AFTER CRAZY WHITE WEIRDO ALLEGEDLY SHOOTS AND KILLS A BUNCH OF NEGROES IN SOUTH CAROLINA CHURCH”

Real headline on a blog, I swear. Google it if you don’t believe me – I’m not going to give them the satisfaction of bonus traffic by linking. But it was so perfect in the way it crammed so many right wing whacko talking points into 19 words that I had to share it.

So – a couple of questions. 

Fist, if all these white guys are “crazy” and “insane” and “delusional” and on and on, why do they all manifest their craziness by shooting blacks? And why is there such symmetry between the uniformly similar crazy behavior and the teachings of white supremacists from the Klan to the militias to the right wing media?

I just don’t see any good answers out there for white supremacists. Which may perhaps explain why the first reaction of right wingers – always – is to call the shooters crazy and delusional. I’d try very hard to change the subject if I were them too.

A final question – why does the media always let the white supremacists get away with this bullshit?

Not Random

On Slate, one of my favorite writers, Jamelle Bouie, persuasively makes the case that the Charleston church shooting is anything but random. Go read.

The attack on Emanuel AME sits in a long history of violence against black churches. The most famous attack—or act of terrorism—was the 1963 church bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where the Ku Klux Klan killed four girls preparing for Sunday services. Such attacks were common throughout the civil rights period, and they re-emerged in the mid-1990s, when arsonists attacked black churches in South Carolina and other states.

It also sits in the long history of American terrorism. The Klan was arguably the first terrorist group in American history, and it aimed its violence at recently freed slaves and, later, their descendants. Lynchings claimed thousands of lives and were deliberate acts of terror against black communities and their allies. Civil rights leaders and activists were routinely killed by organized defenders of Jim Crow, and the worst terrorist attack on American soil, before Sept. 11, was in Oklahoma City, where Timothy McVeigh, a young white man with links to white supremacists, killed 168 people, including 19 children.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why violent racists would single out black churches. They are major institutions for black Americans, vital sites for religious life and civic engagement. They’ve nourished activists, produced leaders, and provided a foundation for the long struggle against discrimination. They’ve been schools, training grounds, and safe havens. Even today, they’re often the nucleus for political efforts in black communities around the country, from “Souls to the Polls” in state and national elections to organizing around local issues and concerns.

Marx was right – about one thing, anyway. Over and over and over again. Sigh.