Charleston: A Very Short Post


I don’t have a lot to say about the shooting in South Carolina. Nothing in particular, other than my nationality and my grief, qualifies me to speak about it. It is so immensely horrible that there is something comforting about thinking it is something out of our past, a bizarre and exceptional throwback to more segregated, intolerant eras.

Thus the shooting has sparked a political debate over the persistent image of the Confederate flag. Should it be sold? Should it be flown? Should it be promulgated in any way?

In my view, this is a distraction. Of course the Confederate flag should be abandoned: it represents slavery and sedition. It is an insult to African-Americans in particular, and to the nation as a whole. I don’t think it should be banned, but there’s no reason to promote it.

At the same time, as an advocate of free speech, I have to admit that I don’t find the Confederate flag to be the foremost issue here. The issue, as usual, is the absence of meaningful gun control in this country. It doesn’t matter how many people in South Carolina think like Dylann Roof; what matters is how many people our laws empowered him to murder.

School shootings get blamed on mental illness; church shootings get blamed on hate. Those answers are both right, and both wrong. I recommend reading the Wikipedia article on the gun Roof fired. License plates aren’t responsible for these deaths in Charleston, and nothing is gained by promoting symbolic solutions to real problems.