I’ve watched and read the public reaction to the slaughter of nine people–nine African American people–by a white supremacist gunman who warrants the description of a terrorist. As I read that commentary, I wonder how people would react if the gunman was a black male and the victims were white.
Make no mistake about it: such a terrorist act is the logical if extreme outcome of white supremacy and intolerance. Apparently, reasons this particular white supremacist gunman, if you can’t own them, exploit them, or remove them, you kill them.
As one might expect, the gunman’s fondness for Confederate heritage has become a focus of discussion. We’ve had people calling for the banning of Confederate flags as symbols of hate while certain defenders of Confederate heritage, sometimes after offering perfunctory statements of regret, rush to disassociate their cause from this mass murder or to offer other explanations for the gunman’s behavior. That’s to be expected, and it is to be regretted. We’ve had far too much discussion of the Confederate flag, both by people who hate it and people who love it, that trivialize the whole matter by turning it into a screaming match between extremes. Thoughtful commentary flounders in such environments, precisely because both sides will assail it.
It’s Sunday. If you haven’t already done so, think about the victims and their families and friends. Pray for those who have suffered. And think before you respond … because if you think that this whole matter can be reduced to whether we should allow the display of the Confederate flag, you really aren’t advancing the discussion very far.