Analysis: Charleston Church Shooting Triggers A Variety of Different Reactions

Is the Confederate Flag merely Southern Heritage or a symbol of racism and treason?
Is the Confederate Flag merely Southern Heritage or a symbol of racism and treason?

The tragic shooting that killed nine people in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, has brought a number of different issues to the forefront. In addition to the racial component, there has been a prolonged discussion about the appropriateness of the Confederate flag, a renewed debate on guns, and a discussion on religion and the use of the term “terrorism.”

Here is a snapshot of some of the discussions that have taken place in the last few days.

Is Institutional Racism a Thing of the Past?

The Wall Street Journal calls the Charleston shooting: “An echo of 52 years ago, but also a crucial difference.”

They write: “A white man murdering black people in the South forces bad memories to the surface, and so it surely was appropriate for President Obama to note this in his remarks Thursday.”

The President quoted at some length Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s remarks on the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church: “They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely with [about] who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American Dream.”

But here is the key part of the editorial: “Amid the horror of Charleston, it is also important to note that the U.S., notably the South, has moved forward to replace the system that enabled racist killings like those in the Birmingham church. Back then and before, the institutions of government—police, courts, organized segregation—often worked to protect perpetrators of racially motivated violence, rather than their victims… Today the system and philosophy of institutionalized racism identified by Dr. King no longer exists.”

This led to much criticism from the left. Talking Points Memo writes: “The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal on Friday suggested that ‘institutionalized racism’ was not a driving force in the massacre of nine people Wednesday night at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina because it ‘no longer exists.’”

The Nation writes: “Contemporary racial pro-gress, embodied by America’s twice-elected African-American president, exists alongside the mass incarceration of black men and women and a seeming epidemic of videotaped police shootings of unarmed black victims that have inspired a #BlackLivesMatter movement that, at its best, continues the heroic work of the modern civil rights struggle. The Age of Obama, therefore, is also the Age of Ferguson and Baltimore, where the kinds of racial poverty, residential and public school segregation, and public policy neglect commonly associated with America’s shameful Jim Crow past bump squarely into our highly digitized present.”

Gun Culture Makes Mass Murder Routine

Boston Globe: “America’s sick gun culture was revealed to us once again – in the most tragic, yet seemingly predictable manner. A church. A Bible study group. A peaceful Wednesday evening. Nine black men and women. One white man. These types of mass shootings are the moments that most Americans associate with the epidemic of gun violence in this country, in part because these events are so horrific and so tragic that they somehow seem like outliers. Yet gun violence in America is actually a routine event. It’s sudden, it’s unexpected, and it leaves in its wake more shattered lives.”

New Jersey Star-Ledger: “Grief must inspire something meaningful, if only some of us didn’t find it taboo to discuss gun policy after a gun massacre. The president’s frustration is palpable, as he recycles the same jeremiad he used after mass murders in Newtown, Tucson, Fort Hood, Aurora, and the Washington Navy Yard. He wants this to turn into a discussion about gun control, but he knows that’s a political non-starter. Maybe only 34 percent of American households have guns, but they have the political heft to convince people that the only solution to America’s shooting epidemic is to give everyone else the means to add to it.”

Confederate Flag Debate

NBC News: “The slaying of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, by a white gunman has reignited one of the state’s most racially charged debates: taking down the Confederate flag for good. Calls for the rebel banner’s removal at the statehouse have grown on social media after it was left to fly at full staff this week — even after two flags atop the capitol were lowered in honor of the victims. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has since suggested that it might be time to revisit the flag controversy again in ‘thoughtful words.’ But for many, the argument over whether to pull the stars and bars permanently remains rooted in a deeper divide: Is it a symbol of Southern heritage or enduring hate?”

Washington Post: “After Dylann Storm Roof allegedly shot up an AME church in Charleston, S.C., killing nine people, two flags were lowered more than 100 miles away in Columbia, the state’s capital. Atop the South Carolina State House, the U.S. flag and South Carolina’s palmetto flag flew at half-staff as the manhunt for Roof ended with his capture in North Carolina and prayer vigils were planned. The show of respect would have been appropriate even if one of the state legislature’s own — state senator Clementa C. Pinckney — had not died in the attack. But a third flag within view of the State House — a Confederate one — flew as high and as proud as ever, flapping in the breeze on a sunny day. This looked bad.

“But, it seemed, no one — particularly not South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) — could do anything about it. This was a matter of law. ‘In South Carolina, the governor does not have legal authority to alter the flag,’ a Haley spokesman told ABC on Thursday. ‘Only the General Assembly can do that.’”

Boston Globe: “Governor Charlie Baker apologized on Thursday for remarks he made earlier in the day defending the rights of state capitols to fly the Confederate flag, initially calling it a matter of ‘tradition.’ Baker said in an early-afternoon radio interview that states should be entitled to decide whether to fly the Confederate flag at their capitols, laying out a brief argument for local government. But he later backtracked and said he believed the controversial symbol should be removed. In a telephone interview on Thursday evening, Baker said he had ‘heard from some friends of mine.’ Their message, he said: ‘Basically: What were you thinking?’ ‘I take my job as governor of 100 percent of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts very seriously, and as I said, I’m sorry if I didn’t do a particularly good job representing that today,’ Baker told the Globe on the Thursday evening call arranged hastily by aides.”

Dylann Roof, Suspect in Charleston Shooting, Flew the Flags of White Power

New York Times: “The Facebook profile picture chosen by Dylann Storm Roof in May is thick with symbolism. It shows Mr. Roof, a scowling young white man, wearing a black jacket adorned with two flags — one from apartheid-era South Africa, the other from white-ruled Rhodesia — that have been adopted as emblems by modern-day white supremacists.

“Officials said the shooting was being investigated as a hate crime. Although it was not clear if Mr. Roof had actually joined any organized white supremacist groups, people who knew him said that in recent months, a young man they described as extremely shy had begun to harbor racist views and make increasingly violent statements about attacking black people.”

General Views:

ACLU: “The attack is an eerie reminder of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, in which four young African American girls were killed and many others injured. We are mournful that our country is still dealing with institutional racism and race-related violence more than half a century later.

“Like then, there is an outpouring of outrage over the killing of innocents, especially in a house of worship. There is outrage over the blatant racism exhibited by the shooter. As a nation, we ultimately came together then to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Today, we will fight harder to preserve and extend constitutionally guaranteed rights to people who have been historically denied their rights on the basis of race. At least out of the unspeakable tragedy, we can all recommit to working to create an impact that negates what an angry, racist young man attempted to carry out.

“The authors of the Declaration of Independence—which we will celebrate in a few weeks—outlined a bold vision for America: a nation in which all people would be free and equal. More than two hundred years later, it has yet to be achieved. Though generations of civil rights activism have led to important gains in legal, political, social, and other areas, the systems of racial injustice still thrive. From our criminal justice system that disproportionately targets and incarcerates people of color and criminalizes poverty to our public schools, where students of color are often confined to racially isolated, underfunded, and inferior programs, the dream of full equality remains elusive.”

Eboni S. Nelson on CNN: “Atrocities such as the horrific shooting in Charleston provoke heartrending anguish and grief in people everywhere. However, for members of the black community who have too often experienced senseless violence due to racial hatred, our sorrow is visceral and makes us question whether our country will ever be free of racial animus.

“The answer is no. Not because America is inherently racist or because it is not a just society. Rather, it is because racial hatred is premised on evil — an evil that takes over rational thought, thereby allowing irrational and destructive thinking to cloud one’s judgment. It is this same evil that took the lives of four beautiful school girls in Birmingham, Alabama, more than 50 years ago, and it is the same evil that will always be present in the hearts and minds of some people.”

USA Today Editorial: “A day after the unspeakable slaughter of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., congregants at a nearby church mourned for the victims, sang We Shall Overcome and gave voice to a sentiment shared across the country: ‘Enough is enough.’ Enough racial hatred. Enough gun violence…

“The broader problem — more entrenched, more pernicious and more likely to eat away at the nation — is the racial animosity that still lurks in some quarters. African Americans have suffered its sting often in recent events. A series of unarmed black men, including one in North Charleston, S.C., have been killed by white police officers. And many African Americans have come to believe, a half-century after the civil rights movement took hold, that black lives still do not matter. Or do not matter as much as white lives…

“In important ways, America is a different country than it was in 1963, when violence and racial hatred combined to kill four young girls, caught in the bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Ala. No one was tried for the crime until 14 years later. It took 23 more years before two other suspects were brought to justice. In 1963, President Kennedy mourned the senseless deaths of the children in Birmingham and hoped that it would ‘awaken this entire nation to a realization of the folly of racial injustice and hatred and violence.’ In Charleston this week, it was tragically clear that those hopes have yet to be fully realized.”

New York Times Editorial: “The horrific church shooting in Charleston, S.C., leaves the nation at an all too familiar juncture — uncertain whether to do something positive to repair society’s vulnerabilities or to once again absorb an intolerable wound by going through what has become a woeful ritual of deep grief followed by shallow resolve to move on toward … what? Toward the inevitable carnage next time…

“In this moment of grief, there’s a measure of practical comfort to be taken from the warning of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: ‘We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.’ It’s increasingly clear that King understood and embodied the sufferings of not just African-Americans but an entire nation still haunted by racism and mindless violence. Beyond this latest grief, however, he epitomized unyielding dedication to political progress. ‘Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability,’ he cautioned, ‘but comes through continuous struggle.’ This remains the nation’s only course after the horrendous murders in Charleston.”

President Barack Obama: “Until the investigation is complete, I’m necessarily constrained in terms of talking about the details of the case. But I don’t need constrained about the emotions that tragedies like this raise. I’ve had to make statements like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times. We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hand on a gun. Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let’s be clear. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency…

“The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history. This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked, and we know the hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals. The good news is I am confident that the outpouring of unity and strength and fellowship and love across Charleston today, from all races, from all faiths, from all places of worship, indicates the degree to which those old vestiges of hatred can be overcome.

“That certainly was Dr. King’s hope just over 50 years ago after four little girls were killed in a bombing at a black church in Birmingham, Alabama. He said, ‘They lived meaningful lives, and they died nobly. They say to each of us,’ Dr. King said, ‘black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely with who murdered them but about the system, the way of life, philosophy which produced the murders. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American Dream. And if one will hold on, he will discover that God walks with him and that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace.'”

Full text and video of Barack Obama’s remarks.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Tia Will

    Is it a symbol of Southern heritage or enduring hate?”

    I see this question as too limited in its scope. I see the Confederate flag as the symbol of a separatist group. I see it as the symbol of a group with ideals, including the upholding of slavery, as being as foreign to my ideals as would be the flag of ISIS. We are quick to condemn those willing to use violence to obtain ideals foreign to ours as terrorists, but do not condemn these same acts as terrorism when “one of us” commits the same action. 

    Timothy McVeigh comes to mind as a home grown terrorist whose actions were motivated by hatred of the government. Had his name been Tamir Muhammed, there is no doubt in my  mind that his acts would have been judged as part of a terrorist conspiracy rather than as one of a group of disaffected and angry young men.

     Dylann Storm Roof did not come by his ideas spontaneously or independently. A brief Google search will show many sites that cater to, encourage, and support racial hatred and racial violence. This is an ongoing part of our culture, not a de minims isolated occurrence as some posters here portray racial hatred in our society. Until we stop denying the magnitude of this problem in our country and start facing its persistence head on, we will continue to have these kinds of episodes. The very fact that the Confederate flag was not flown at half mast,to me,  is a statement trivializing this event in favor of a clear statement of support for racist, separatist values.

    1. hpierce

      Tia… guess you don’t understand “flag codes”… which is understandable, given Davis PD & FD practices.  The latter lower the american and state flags whenever any PS worker dies “in the line of duty”.  The nature of the flag is not relevant.  The federal flag code is pretty specific… President dying, or when the President recognizing the death of a Senator, Federal judge, etc.

      If there was a “city’ flag that was not flown half-mast, that’s a separate issue.  I don’t know what the SC flag code is, but suspect you can ‘google it’.

      I don’t think “society” should be blamed for this.  The normal spelling for Dylan is that.  Dyl-ann? Storm Roof?  A “boy named “Sue”?  Appears to be at least as many parental issues as there was in our local tragedy.  Obviously, the SC perp is a self-confessed racist.  Just can’t make the connection between society, in SC or US, as to this heinous crime.  Could easily make the claim that it was a crime against bible-studying religious folk.  Amazing the forgiveness, praying for not only the victims, but the perp that are being expressed.  But we all know religion/belief in a God, is bogus, right?

      1. Tia Will

        But we all know religion/belief in a God, is bogus, right?”

        There are many paths to forgiveness. Belief in a God is a path for some. For others, belief in a God is a path to jihad, or to the Inquisition.  Belief in God is neither good nor bad, it is the actions that this belief leads to that are the true statement of the worth of that belief.

      2. sisterhood

        Re: the term “perp”:  I am being a little too sensitive for some readers, but IMHO when you use the term “perp” vs. “human” or “person”, it seems to de-humanize the person.

  2. Frankly

    It is not about the Confederate flag.  It is not about gun control.  It is about two things: economic opportunity and mental/psychological health.  And beyond that, it is about evil and good.

    Without enough meaningful pursuits in life, some people will drift into a mental/psychological state of anger and hate.  And some are just sick and need treatment and some need to be institutionalized.

    But the left and left media attempt to advance their political and ideological agenda on every tragedy and crisis.  They should all be ashamed of this.

    I also find it interesting that the left and left media seeks to sensor and persecute the symbols of white southern culture while defending the freedom of Muslim culture that foments so much more hate and carnage.  This looks to me as a clear bit of reverse racism and cultural bias and should be examined for influencing the anger that seethes in some white southern young men.  If symbols and messaging matter, there are plenty of modern political and media symbols and messaging that indicate subordination of this demographic.

    This kid turned evil and should be executed for what he did, IMO.   But there is no solution in preventing the next similar tragedy debating the damn Confederate flag.  And the left and left media needs to give up on gun control.  It is a non-starter.  It will never happen.  If fact, it will just cause more anger and distrust of the government and the elites that attempt to remove more and more American freedoms.

    1. hpierce

      Frankly, because you are, really need to meet and get to know REAL people who follow Islam.  The KKK cloaked themselves in “Protestant” values and hated blacks, Catholics and Jews.  Does that mean we should judge those who are Protestant in a strongly negative manner?  ISIS/ISIL are no more representative of Islam than the KKK is representative of Protestants.  Your left and right wing media do the slanders/support sterotypes.  Try to actually think.

      1. Frankly

        For most people in the south the Confederate flag represents southern pride, not racism.  For most people gun rights represent freedom, not a tool to murder and terrorize in hateful and racist fits.

        My “thinking” here is to stop casting wide ideological nets to advance an ideological and political agenda and instead focus on the actual root causes of the problem.

        Personally, I view social media that foments racism in the same light as social media that foments Islamic extremism.  Both warrant attention from the authorities, and I am fine with some rules of decency and censorship being applied.  The reason I am ok with this and not additional controls on gun rights and flag rights is that these social media sites/content serve a single nefarious purpose, while guns and Confederate flags do not.

    2. Biddlin

      Apparently the Governor of South Carolina and several legislators are moving to remove the flag from the the capitol grounds. As a native Southerner, I have no nostalgic feelings toward that symbol of a failed and flawed society.


  3. Tia Will

    Without enough meaningful pursuits in life, some people will drift into a mental/psychological state of anger and hate.”

    This ignores the fact that there are some in our society who consider their hatred of others because of race, or sexual preference, or some other divisive factor as a “meaningful pursuit in life”. I came face to face with this belief in the avowed “white supremacist” who I encounterd on the wards. Her statement was that her belief in white supremacy was like a religion to her. She was not engaging in hyperbole. She was making an honest attempt to explain her position to me.

    Sometimes you do not seem to understand that you do not get to define what is “meaningful” to others.

  4. Tia Will


    Appears to be at least as many parental issues as there was in our local tragedy.”

    First, thanks for the clarification of flag codes, a subject on which I am in complete ignorance.

    As to this statement. I don’t think that this absolves “society”. The parents did not grow up in isolation either. As a matter of fact, I think that if the parents created a climate of hate ( a huge” if “since we have no way of knowing at this time), but if they did, that is an even stronger argument for societal impact since it suggests that this young man’s attitudes are intergenerational, not idiosyncratic. Just because this young man was the only one holding the gun does not mean that others, and in the broadest sense our society did not contribute to the mind set that led him to that point.

    I would like to see a little consistency of thought here. If we are going to argue for personal responsibility and claim that no one else was contributory, then that certainly must also apply to the innocence of the left wing media since they are not out on the streets rioting. We cannot argue on the one hand that the individual alone is to blame, and then credit the media and those whose philosophy with which we do not agree for rising crime, police negligence of duty, or riots.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      The facts we are learning are painting a more complex picture.

      We do know, Tia, from his recent manifesto, that he wrote that his parents didn’t teach him racism. We know that he had close black friends, and that one interview I saw last night, his “friend of color” couldn’t imagine he would do this.

      We also know that he threatened to shoot up Charleston College. My review of online data shows it is a small historic college, and it doesn’t appear to be a historic black college.

      We know when drunk one night he threatened to do harm to some people, so his friends hide his gun from him until the anger passed and he sobered up.

      Further, sometimes in the saddest times we can gain a positive side. In his manifesto he talks about considering attacking predominantly black areas, but says he can’t do it alone, and there effectively is no KKK. So an immature online nut spent months or years trolling the Internet, and can’t find support for his unstable views.

      1. tribeUSA

        Interesting info TBD, I wasn’t aware of this info. (will catch up on media reports later). Still, a thorough investigation by police and FBI is warranted to find out whether he was in contact with any white supremacist organization, of if any white supremacist organizations encouraged his actions, or were collaborating in his actions in any way.

        Does anyone know if it is confirmed that his parents got this clearly unstable (at minimum) guy a gun for his birthday earlier this spring? Like the poor judgement in the Lanza case, where the Mom teaches her mentally ill son how to fire weapons and takes him to the shooting range to hone his skills. Also I saw mention on some internet sites Roof had been arrested on some drug possession charges; does anyone know if he had felony drug (or other felony) convictions; which would have made it illegal for him to own/use a gun?

        From internet rumors, this guy had apparently been a user/abuser of multiple different drugs over the past few years. Combined with pre-existing mentally instability; could this drug use have tipped him over into full psychosis?

        How can we keep guns out of the hands of people like this? I suppose if he has severe psychological problems that were recent, he may not have yet been diagnosed as unstable, so laws to help prevent the mentally unstable from getting guns might not have stopped him from getting one. So a guy with no felonies and with recent onset of severe mental illness might be undiagnosed or already have a gun; and be able to commit an atrocity like this.

  5. hpierce

    Getting more and more suspicious… the graphic for this piece shows the US and SC flags flying @ half-mast over the SC Capitol… was the other flag “photo-shop”-ed in ? And if so, by whom? And for what purpose?

    1. hpierce

      BTW… definitely ‘photo-shopped’, given the angles of the main flags to the staff, and the angle of the battle flag (not the “Confederate Flag”) to its staff.  Picture was meant to provoke.  Successful.  Only questions now is who did the “magic”?  And why, except to provoke?  Have no ancestors who owned slaves (unless maybe you go back past ~ 500 AD), and my GGGfather ran a stop on the ‘underground railroad’.

      Also, if you look closely at the C-flag, it has an ‘internal’ halyard, raised and lowered by a wire/rope within the pole, much like the flags flown @ Davis PD.  To say it cannot be raised/lowered, doesn’t know “jack”.

  6. TrueBlueDevil

    Nine wonderful human beings butchered by this young nut. I wonder if he got off the meds, or was older, if he would still commit such a horrendous act?

    President Obama would have more legitimacy if he got his facts straight.

    Obama read these prepared remarks: “…At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency…”

    Wrong. Has he heard of Paris? I have no idea why he skipped the massive international memorial, did he not want to acknowledge Islamist terrorists, isn’t supportive of the Jewish faith, is self centered, or wanted to play golf? I don’t know.

    Same thing for this weekend. Why isn’t he in South Carolina comforting our fellow citizens, going to church, having a community picnic, and leaving politics aside? Instead, he will likely play more golf.

    1. Don Shor

      It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency…”


      No, you are wrong and the president’s statement is accurate. And the rest of your comments are repugnant. Sometimes it would be better if you would just not post, seriously.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        Are you denying the 12 people butchered and 20 injured at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo; are you denying the Jewish citizens who were murdered and injured at the Jewish supermarket; and / or are you denying the female Parisian police woman who was assassinated, all with a short period of time?

        I believe we’re not even in the top 5 as far as these kinds of acts, or you look at the shootings proportionally. (We are a large country.)

          1. Don Shor

            That is a gross distortion of statistics that nobody would even consider using unless they had some agenda. Seriously. All of the other countries listed have had 1 – 2 events. Only Germany has had 3. We have nearly 40.

        1. Frankly

          Don, I have come to the conclusion that you sometimes degrade to a bully on this blog.  You are very disrespectful to some that post reasonable points that inflame your senses.

          TBD makes a valid point that in relation to our population, the number of events in the US is not as extreme as the President inferred and you jumped in to protect when his words were challenged.

          I would add to this the consideration of diversity in the population.  There is some statistical correlation with violent acts and multi-culturalism… i.e., the more densely multi-cultural the more acts of violence.  It does make sense to a large degree in consideration of tribalism in human nature.  The US is by far one of the most diverse of industrialized countries… especially the larger countries.  It is common for weak leaders of one tribe to blame another tribe for their misfortune.  Our President and liberals do it all the time blaming conservatives, whites, males and CEOs.  Weak leaders of totalitarian regimes and much of the Muslim world likes to blame the tribes of Israel and the US for their misfortune.  At some point someone with mental and/or psychological problems acts out on it from the barrage of messaging.  And if they organize around it, then we have a war to put them down.

          Obama seems to say all the wrong things to mend a country… he keeps using every tragedy to drive the wedge deeper and wider.  He foments tribalism instead of bringing them all together to feel like they are part of a single tribe of American.   He is a weak leader, IMO.


          1. Don Shor

            TBD makes a valid point that in relation to our population, the number of events in the US is not as extreme as the President inferred and you jumped in to protect when his words were challenged.

            It was not a reasonable point. It is ridiculous to try to minimize the degree to which the United States stands out as the number one site for mass killings. The president’s statement was accurate. Any supposed analysis based on single incidents is going to be a distortion and any statistician will tell you that it is not a valid basis for comparison.

            What mystifies me is why TBD, and now you, wish to minimize the extent to which the United States is unique in regard to the number of mass killings that occur here. 1 or 2 in other countries, 38 here during the time period compared in his link? For TBD to then make snide comments about the president playing golf simply continues his consistent disrespect for Obama on the Vanguard.

            The president responded to the tragedy appropriately and his comment was accurate. And the best you and TBD can do is nitpick it with spurious evidence? Yeah, call me a bully for calling you and him out on that. I guarantee I will continue to do it.

            Edit: for those unfamiliar with the site TBD linked in support of his statistical argument, here is what the Independent Journal Review is:
            Here is some of the other work by Kyle Becker, the author of the piece:

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          Don, your explanations are riddled with logical fallacies. For a comparison to be valid, an apples to apples comparison is best, and it could even be more specific than that.

          If you want to compare Utah, Minnesota, Montana and Oregon – individually – to tiny European countries, knock yourself out. Comparing the statistics of a multiracial, multi-ethnic country of 310 million to often monolithic, highly educated nations of 4 million is beyond laughable. But I get it, really, I do: we have a much higher crime rate than Luxembourg.

          Or if this bothers you, compare the crime statistics of American to all of Western Europe – last time I checked, the populations are fairly close.

          These items don’t even go into the issues Frankly raised – we have statistics from several ethnic groups that blow out many of our national statistics, and those ethnic groups aren’t represented in most European countries.

          (Ironically, while liberals will try to beat us over the head because our murder rare is higher than Finland, they conveniently ignore the ongoing bloodbath in places like South Africa.)

          I stand by everything I wrote. Our President is feckless, and there are semi-frequent mass killings in Europe even if he wishes to brush them away.


          1. Don Shor

            38 in this country in the time period in which there were 1 or 2 in individual European countries. Population of the EU – about 480 million. The president’s statement was accurate. Add them all up, divide however you like, no matter how you slice it: you are standing by nonsense. If you can’t see the simple absurdity of listing Norway as “#1” on that list due to a single incident, I don’t know what else to say about critical thinking.

            What I really wonder is why, in the face of these repeated episodes and all there is to say about it, you choose to pick apart this statement by the president? Does it bother you that the United States leads the world in mass shootings, to the point that you want to try to deny it by statistical legerdemain? Or do you just truly despise President Obama?

            Conservatives seem to have a real problem with this shooting. They can’t see the racial component. They can’t acknowledge that the United States has a problem, a real problem, with young men like this getting access to guns. Or, if they do acknowledge it, they can’t see any possible remedy through legislation. Even simple safety checks, supported by overwhelming majorities of Americans, can’t get through Congress because of the power of the gun lobby.
            The level of denial is amazing. And the decision to try to deflect it into personal attacks on the president in response to his public comments is not just dispiriting. It’s disgusting.

    2. hpierce

      From what was shown on his initial ‘questioning’ this fellow probably wouldn’t qualify for the GATE/AIM program, and may have has as much of an issue with spiritual/religious/folk who actually contributed to society in their professional/private works, as he did to ‘people of color’.  Not talking about his words (which I may always refuse to read), but his actions.

      Think we’re talking socio-path, not necessarily racist, at the “core” of his being.  If, indeed he has a “core” of values.

  7. Tia Will


    here is the info on the state flag of South Carolina… and the Governor’s action to have it fly at half-staff for nine days, in honor of the nine victims… David, with his visual, and others, have some “s’planing to do”  [or, not]”

    Thanks for doing the research. From what I read, the Governor has the right to determine the position of the national and state flag, but for some reason, not the Confederate flag. At least there was a quote from the governor of SC to this effect.

    This, in and of itself, if true is rather curious.

    1. Don Shor

      The present position and management of the confederate flag in South Carolina was established by an act of their legislature. It would take a vote of that legislature to change it in any way. It isn’t on a pole that allows it to be at half mast and the governor doesn’t have any authority over it.

      1. hpierce

        “It isn’t on a pole that allows it to be at half mast…”  Not true.

        Don… actually misplaced my comment on the “ability” to lower the flag, elsewhere.  It is very clearly the same type of system that Davis PD uses.  Authority is an issue that I will defer to others.

  8. Tia Will

    I agree with Frankly ( with Don’s modification )  that for the majority of white people in the south probably do believe that the Confederate flag ( in attached version) is a symbol of southern pride. However, I believe that for a significant portion of the population, it probably also has other connotations. These are the folks that we should not be ignoring, just as we should not ignore ISIS.


    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Are you making a moral equivalency between supporters of the Confederate flag, to people who terrorize, kill, and rape and murder young children, and sell children into slavery?

      1. David Greenwald

        Interesting analogy you draw. I’m pretty sure that all of the atrocities that you describe occurred under slavery in the south. The confederacy was created to protect that institution. The flag is the symbol of that institution. So I think you would be justified in drawing a moral equivalence there.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          Except that institution (in America) ended hundreds of years ago. Secondly, killing slaves or slave children was a last resort, whereas ISIS / ISIL appears to do this on a daily basis for mere sport.

        2. sisterhood

          From CNN, re: Jon Stewart’s remarks recently:

          ” ” Stewart also issued a scathing critique of Confederate imagery, noting “In South Carolina, the roads that black people drive on are named for Confederate generals who fought to keep black people from being able to drive freely on that road. That’s insanity. That’s racial wallpaper. That’s — you can’t allow that.” “

        3. hpierce

          TBD… you appear to have no grasp of history/reality re: slavery in America… “hundreds of years”?  The most charitable thing I can do is point out that 152 years is not “hundreds”… even then, the EP only covered the areas in revolt, and was unenforceable until ~ 150 years ago.  Or you might be thinking “dog years”…

    2. Frankly

      Sure, we legislate around hurt feelings all the time.  And in doing so we hurt other feelings.

      Focus on material/measurable harm and not this hyped-up and misplaced emotional sensitivity to what others do.

      Speech is not free if it is legislated to only be that which does not bother someone.

    3. hpierce

      Check your history, Tia (and others).  The thirteen colonies were originally under the “Articles of Confederation“, which fell apart on “states rights” issues.  Hence, the Constitution.  By the late 1850’s, the more populous, more industrialized states had the leverage to tell folk that no new ‘slave states’ would be admitted to the Union.  The agrarian states needed cheap labor – slaves.  The beginning of threat to “the union” was economic and political, but slavery was only a somewhat signifcant  piece of that… ‘states’ rights’, was huge.  Lincoln was elected not to end slavery (although he was personally opposed to it), and didn’t act until nearly 2 years after his election to end it except “in those states in rebellion”… and that was a ‘military move’ to deprive the ‘south’ of soldiers (yet, he conscripted white boys to fight).

      The Civil War was not “about” slavery… slavery was a piece of it, but not the ‘keystone’.  For Lincoln, the main thing was to ‘preserve the Union”… GB was prepared to support the South, at least economically, to protect their raw material supply.

      The ‘confederacy’ was NOT primarily about slavery… at the time, the Constitution gave the southern states credit for 3-5 population for their black inhabitants (House of Representatives) but gave neither blacks nor women the right to vote.

      Please review real history.  The flag in question was not that widely used, except in movies, etc.  The “Stars and Bars” was more widely used.

  9. sisterhood

    How many mass killings by mentally ill people are acceptable, when mental illness is an illness we can conquer, just like AIDS, Polio, Diabetes, Cancer, Bubonic Plague, etc? It is an illness. We are a smart country. We can cure it.

    I don’t care about stats that show another country had one incident and the U.S.A. had the most incidents. ONE is too many. All mass killings are done by a mentally disabled person. Mental illness is an illness that can be cured, if we put our minds to it.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      This is complicated by our laws. Cities can’t hold people against their will. I’m no lawyer, so any can chime in, but I’ve been repeatedly told than when Ronald Reagan was governor of California, the law changed and we weren’t (aren’t) allowed to keep mentally unstable people against their will. (I don’t know if the movie Cuckoo’s Nest had any role in this change.) So someone can be stable, leave a jail or mental health facility, stop taking their meds, and we have little room for management.

      Mental health treatment also has its limitations. See Daniel Marsh.

      1. hpierce

        TBD… you’re showing your age (or lack of)  Reagan closed most of the State mental hospitals as a cost-cutting/smaller government effort, pretty much only leaving the State mental hospitals for the CRIMINALLY insane/disturbed.  I leave to others opinions of how well that has worked out.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          If I take you analysis at face value – then why in 3 decades hasn’t the Democrat-controlled state reopened them?

          Do Democrats prefer union pensions over the mentally ill, etc.?

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          Governor Ronald Reagan didn’t set policy in the other 49 states.

          The danger of closing ‘asylums’
          Some people belong in institutions

          “For 50 years now, the United States has pursued a policy toward the mentally ill that has left the sick untreated and our country unsafe. While we await more facts about the tragedy at Newtown, Conn., similar heinous episodes suggest a correlation between violent crime and what’s known as “deinstitutionalization,” the policy of closing state mental institutions. …”

          “But over the last half-century, a combination of progressive groups, big-government bureaucrats and conservative naysayers rallied against these institutions and succeeded in seeing to their demise.

          “Since the 1960s, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center, more than 90% of mental patients have been discharged from state care to live in ordinary society. In 1955, there were nearly 600,000 mentally ill patients in state psychiatric hospitals. Fifty-five years on, only 43,000 state psychiatric beds remain available for use….

          “Without proper care and separation from society, a percentage of the severely mentally ill now pose a serious danger to the public. In recent years, many of America’s mass homicides have been committed by untreated mentally ill persons….


        3. hpierce

          Lack of Republican votes, priorities for other spending, etc.  Ask someone who actually served in the legislature during those years.  I didn’t.  Yet you point the finger at the Democrats… Your persona indicates that you are actually a True (uber) “Red” Devil. I really don’t have much “truck” with those on the far left or far right.

        4. hpierce

          By your own quote, “… a combination of progressive groups, big-government bureaucrats and conservative naysayers rallied against these institutions and succeeded in seeing to their demise.”  And you blame the Democrats, why?  I have rejected progressive/liberal/conservative ideologies for years.  I like to think.  And act.

      2. sisterhood

        TBD I see your point but there has to be a better way to eliminate mass killings than simply, after the fact, locking away the disabled person without a long term solution. Just like obesity and other issues our country faces, we need to continue to put preventative measures in place so we don’t have mass killers. It starts at birth. It starts before birth.

        Some women and men are just not equipped to raise a baby and should have affordable birth control available. Other parents are wonderful but still end up with a child/tween/adult child who is mentally disabled. We must stop the punishment approach to this disaster and find other approaches, IMHO.

        Mental illness is an illness that we can cure.


        1. TrueBlueDevil

          sisterhood, I agree we should try to reduce mass killings, but I am a realist, so I don’t think that in a nation of 310 million we will ever completely eliminate them.  (Especially given our unchecked and bizarro immigration non-enforcement.)

          We would have to have a new commitment to re-establishing mental wards, and it sounds like too many groups oppose that. A few liberal lawyers can tie  you up in red tape for years.

          We’d also need to somehow fine tune our treatment of the Daniel Marsh / Roofs of the world, who appear to be partly functional, and partly non-functional. That space fits millions of people.

          I’m not against some rational checks on gun ownership, but even countries with highly restrictive gun laws still have mass killings. We just had ten people shot at a block party in Detroit last night.

    2. Topcat

      Mental illness is an illness that can be cured, if we put our minds to it.

      As someone who has a close relative with a serious mental illness, I can tell you that mental illness cannot be “cured”.  In many cases the symptoms can be suppressed with medication, but this is far from a cure.

      1. sisterhood

        Hi Topcat,

        Deep in your soul, don’t you want to believe that someday medical science will be able to reverse your relative’s illness and cure the person? Please don’t tell me to give up hope. I just can’t do that, yet. Thanks and I’m really sorry you have a loved one/close relative  who is suffering.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          A friend had his brother in Europe who somehow made a miraculous turnaround in his 30s, so there is hope. I have a relative who has battled issues (I don’t know all the details) with weekly therapy, and I believe medication, but he has had a rough road even though his issues are modest and manageable.

          The article I posted had some amazing points, one was that the number of people in jail who have serious mental illness has gone from 1% to 10%. What are the numerous implications of that?

          1. David Greenwald

            The implication to me is that we have a mental health crisis in this country, and we need to figure out a better way to deal with it than using prisons to house mentally ill individuals – where prisons are ill equipped, expensive, and we end up serving no one.

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          I agree with you David, but what does that mean? One step could be more “assisted living” scenarios, but what about those who refuse to take their medications? Are we ready to rebuild 100,000 beds in psychiatric hospitals, and fight the groups who will oppose such? You and I know that many of these people end up on the streets, which I believe is inhumane and unacceptable, but a few liberal lawyers will bog this down in a heartbeat.

          The San Francisco Chronicle did a story years ago and found that a few hundred homeless accounted for a staggering number of paramedic calls in the Tenderloin. One man was taken to the emergency room, cleaned up, and released over 1,000 times! Imagine the costs to police, fire, paramedics, emergency services, as well as the risks posed to doctors and staff, let alone the ill man himself.

          On top of that, how much effect does this have on business, tourism, and young children who have to dodge these mentally ill individuals! Homelessness is continually ranked as the number one problem tourists have with the city, and they contribute huge dollars through hotel room fees and various other taxes.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Stewart brings his own prejudice to the table, his own bias.

      1. In his own hypothetical scenario, it may not have been called a “terrorist attack” – i.e., the Obama administration called the terrorist attack in Texas “workplace violence”. The policeman who recently took down two terrorists at a satire convention in Texas has also been swept under the rug.

      2. This sick, sad, mentally ill criminal previously contemplated shooting up Charleston College, and threatened to shot other individuals were weren’t black … so it is deeper than mere racism.

      1. hpierce

        To your point # 2:  IMO you are correct… still trying to figure out if it was mainly anti-spiritual/anti-Christian.  Two “enemies” of a sociio-path…. amazing (but in my opinion, correct) how faith communities have responded.

  10. hpierce

    Sisterhood… if you want to see ‘deadly serious’, in the guise of music and comedy, google “Rally to Restore Sanity” — Stewart and Colbert.  4.5 years old, and still timely.  Warning… the full video is about 3.5 hours long… 150k + people on the national Mall.

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