The recent tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina has certainly created a number of different jumping off points for what appears to be a fairly straightforward event. Those on the right are tripping over themselves trying to call it anything but racism. The growing consensus among commentators on that side of the spectrum is that the attack was an attack Christianity. Certainly, the facts are there to support such a claim in the most basic sense. Sure, those that perished did perish in a church during an official church activity. Yet, anyone that thinks this was about Christianity is participating in what I would charitably call intellectual dishonesty. Of course, for the rest of us that is called lying through your teeth.
Rick Perry (our beloved former governor) called it an accident, but really meant incident. I suppose it was an incident if one would want to call it that. I could also cut off my arm and call it a boo-boo. Even the president was reluctant to call it racism on the day of the event and instead chose to focus on the gun angle. There are certainly multiple angles that can be applied here and tragedies like this can always have multiple lessons that we can draw from it. So, let’s focus on those.
First and foremost, this is about racism. It’s not about southern racism as some on the left have want to call it. It is about racism. Yes, there are institutional factors in place in South Carolina that are troubling. The confederate flag flying near the state capital at the top of its flag pole while the U.S. and South Carolina flag fly at half mast is troubling to say the least. The fact that the flag is even flying period is troubling. However, to focus on the flag itself or the geography of the event is a distraction that we can’t afford right now.
Racism exists in every nook and cranny of this great nation. People from the north love to talk about how they are above it all. They don’t hate immigrants (all three of them) and they certainly don’t hate black people. I suppose we can take them at their word, but they speak in the academic sense. It’s easy not to be a racist when one doesn’t encounter race. I say that including myself in that discussion. I really didn’t encounter race as a child. There were certainly a few black people, Latino, and Asian people in my community growing up, but they were culturally just like we were: upper middle class and educated. So, I didn’t encounter those issues until I became an adult. I have been forced to deal with the problem ever since as a teacher and just a person living in the real world.
We would all benefit from a national conversation on race. We’ve certainly seen enough interactions on the news to acknowledge that some things need to be said and some things need to be done. Like most things, it starts with the person in the mirror. It starts by asking what we can do as Americans and not what those people in South Car0lina need to do. The first thing to do is for everyone (including Fox News) to admit that we have a problem. They can give us their whacky irrelevant solutions to the problem, but let’s at least acknowledge we have one.
Let’s also collectively tell the NRA, gun nuts, and rabid conservatives to either be reasonable to leave the adult table so the rest of us can have a civilized and adult conversation about guns. No, we aren’t going to send a bunch of jack-booted thugs to come take your hunting rifle away. Heck, we’ll let you keep your licensed hand-gun. So, if we can dispense with the conspiracy theories that would be great. We want to make sure guns don’t get into the hands of the mentally unstable. I’d also like to make sure idiots that bring their machine guns into Starbucks don’t shoot my foot off in an accidental discharge. Anyone that thought it was a good idea to allow open carry into places of business and institutions of higher learning can go back to the kids table. You obviously aren’t old enough or mature enough to make grownup decisions.
While we’re at it, can we dispense with the whole “if those in the church had been allowed to carry then maybe this wouldn’t have happened” talk? Again, we need serious people to make some serious sense around now. Having everyone pack heat isn’t the answer to anything except maybe our overpopulation problem. Everyone keep their heads and remember what we want out of all of this. We want to make sure that everyone in church, school, the grocery store, movie theater or anywhere else feels relatively safe no matter what they may look like.