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So, I have been reading a lot of internet posts going back and forth on the Charleston church shooting and the political debate regarding civil war icons on public grounds across the south. I thought I might chime in.

I think we can all agree that the display of the confederate flag on state house, or any public grounds, doesn't work anymore. Regardless of how, when or why it was placed there to begin with, now is the time to take it down. I cannot think of a better way to honor the nine victims who were brutally murdered by that racist assassin, Roof.

But, I am concerned that two things are being lost in all the debate regarding the civil war iconography on display in the south. First, and foremost, are the nine victims. Whatever actions we take in the next days, weeks and months must honor their memory and at least attempt to improve society for all. Second, understanding the perpetrator Roof. We need to dig deep down into this persons head and try to figure out why he felt the need to commit this atrocity. How is it that a young person in this country today can look at a situation and decide the best way to fix a problem is to grab a gun and go to a public place and kill people? I just don't get that.

How many of you have read his manifesto? It's not hard to find. As soon as I heard he wrote out his reasons for doing what he did I tracked it down. I read it and re-read it several times. His views are just... unbelievably mind-blowing. The fact that a young man can actually believe what he claims to believe in the 21st century is scary beyond words. Hate like that freaks me out.

But Hate like that doesn't just appear out of nowhere. A damaged belief system like Roof's wasn't a fluke or an aberration. They are the product of an environment that, overtly or not, plants the seeds of propaganda by the use of words and symbols. Words like the "N" word and symbols like the confederate flag are only the obvious ones. Both of which are used multiple times on this racist's website.

In the first sentence of his manifesto, Roof claims that he doesn't come from a racist "home or environment". Yet, the entire document would seem to contradict that idea. Hell, I think it's worth debating the fact that he is from America means he comes from a racist "environment". But that's another post. Then, in the same paragraph, he claims that just because African-Americans have knowledge of their past, that this "racial awareness" makes them the "real racists" in this country. He then goes on to describe his "awakening" in regards to the Trayvon Martin case and his further investigation into "black on white crime" and how that changed him forever.

It never seems to occur to him to search out information on "white on black crime", "white on white crime", "black on black crime" or "the history of race relations in America". These topics he shows no interest in. I can only assume that this comes from his firm belief, as he states it, that "whites are in fact superior".

What better example could you find of just how wrong a person can be when they build their entire theory on one false premiss.

Roof seems to have received his education from the RWNJ website of the 'Council of Conservative Citizens'. Do yourself a favor and check out the Wikipedia page on these guys. It will open your eyes. I know it opened mine.

But it goes beyond this. I believe that living in a state that venerates symbols like that flag, names streets after civil war generals, enshrines various battle locations and museums to a losing cause not only insults and demeans the African-Americans that must live in the shadow of these symbols every day. It also installs a false belief in the white community of superiority.

This country shamefully allowed the losing side of this war to continue holding down former slaves for whatever reason now for well over 100 years. Reconstruction was handled horrendously. Separate but (un)equal became law of the land. Jim Crow was allowed to become an institution in the south. Blacks were denied the right to vote, live where they wanted, attend the school of their choice and work in whatever job they were qualified to have because systemic racism went underground. Today's prison population alone proves this point.

If we as a country desire to move forward together than we should be prepared for some unintended, but understandable, consequences. Some percentage of whites will fight the majority seeking change at every turn. Some folks might see this as a chance to set one group over another, instead of seeking an equal balance. Who knows. Personally, I think that unfortunately the situation will get worse before it gets better. We will probably have more 'Roof's' in our future. But this is the price we pay for putting off doing what we should have done over a hundred years ago and we cannot let that stop us from moving forward.

As simplistic as this sounds, here is how I like to think of the situation; America did not bring slavery to this continent. But, after attempting to incorporate it into our national self image, America did finally come to its senses and put an end to slavery on this continent. Now, we just need to continue doing the Right and Just things to keep America on the path of freedom for all. It's the only way we can hope to come through this with our humanity intact.

One thing I do know for sure is that if humans are still around 10,000 years from now. This won't be a problem anymore. Because we will have become one big happy "Mocha" colored family by then. I hope.

 

~ EJK

Eric J. Kiser

Eric J. Kiser

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