Thursday, June 18, 2015

South Carolina and Our Twisted Normal

A vigil at the Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston, SC (Time)
In echoes of 1963 Birmingham, a white terrorist entered a church and killed nine people last night in Charleston, South Carolina. As we try to understand acts that are impossible to comprehend, we neglect to see that the attitudes motivating Dylann Roof are not isolated to one sick individual. There is a systemic problem we have refused to address that creates an environment in which someone like Dylann Storm Roof can operate.

As we decry Roof's donning of racist flags from Apartheid-era South Africa and Rhodesia, we ignore the fact that the Confederate flag - a treasonous symbol harking back to a time when blacks were owned as property - flies every day at the South Carolina State House.

As we bemoan the senseless act of violence, made possible by Storm's access to guns, we brush aside the fact that the morning paper in Charleston with the headline "Church attack kills 9" also contained an ad for a local gun shop, inviting local ladies to come and enjoy some shooting.

We try to ignore our past, despite the fact that there are not-so-subtle signs of it all over the country, particularly in South Carolina. Very few would look back on legalized segregation in this country fondly, but one of them is immortalized with a statue in Columbia, South Carolina.

We ask ourselves why things like this happen, but days later we go back to "normal" A normal where the Confederate flag will still be flown at the SC State House. A normal where the ATP Gun Shop and Range will still be advertising their deadly wares. A normal where, eventually, this will happen again. Until we take a good, long look in the mirror and try to figure out how to fix the entire system we will continue to repeat history, to horrific results.

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