A Few More Things About Charleston

Blame 'evil'? You're blaming, and holding to account, nothing



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The Confederate battle flag outside the S.C. State House in Columbia.

Jason Miczek

1. Look, I’m as happy as anybody that South Carolina is finally going to take that damnable flag down. It’s literally the least the state government can do. But let’s not celebrate this too enthusiastically. It’s no substitute for wrestling with the real monster in our midst, and remember—seven other states, including North Carolina, commemorate the Confederacy in their own state flags.

2. That said, if you’re more upset about the prospect of the flag coming down than about the massacre of nine people last week in a church in Charleston, you need to take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself why.

3. To cast blame for the shootings on “the evil [that] still stalks humanity,” as The Wall Street Journal did in an editorial and as other prominent politicians did last week, is to blame nothing and hold nothing to account. You can’t regulate abstractions. You can make it more difficult for disturbed people to acquire guns. Our elected officials are choosing not to.

4. When elected officials choose to address such matters, to dare to do so in public, to suggest that maybe, just maybe, there can and should be some public response to a public slaughter, you’re damned right they’re “politicizing” the issue. Incidents like the Charleston shooting go right to the heart of the most essential political question of all: Can people of differing faiths, skin colors, economic classes, priorities, and beliefs live together as citizens? The people who say they don’t want the shooting politicized are actually saying they don’t want it discussed, period. They have their own reasons for that.

5. In his manifesto, Dylann Roof said he was radicalized into alliance with the white supremacist movement by the Trayvon Martin case.

Stop and think about that.

The case in which an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed; in which the man who shot and killed him was not even arrested for weeks; in which the man who shot and killed him was acquitted; apparently raised in young Roof’s diseased mind such profound conviction that white people were under cultural assault from their racial inferiors (“Niggers are stupid and violent”) that he felt compelled to exterminate nine black people who were sterling examples of grace and civic virtue. Then Roof appeared before a magistrate who used his two-minute platform to urge prayer and sympathy for Roof’s family—a judge who had been reprimanded years before for using a racial slur from the bench.

Can you imagine a more grotesque perversion of the racial realities of this case, and of the country?

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Charlotte had a Democratic mayor that got rebuffed by a Democratic majority council before the president appointed him to his cabinet; a former mayor in the Governor's Mansion after an oh-for-infinity streak; membership in a state that sees Charlotte as, well, another state; a neighboring state where public officials do very, very silly things (and sometimes go "hiking"); and a county commissioner who specializes in insulting constituents yet can't seem to get himself unelected. Sounds interesting to me, so I write about it and other matters public. Hashtag #nestpoke. You want to yell at me, email nestpoke@gmail.com.

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Greg Lacour spent nearly 10 years as a reporter for the Observer, where he covered Charlotte and Mecklenburg County government, including the infamous Nick Mackey for Sheriff farce of 2007-08, which made him simultaneously homesick for his hometown of New Orleans and hopeful that Charlotte might yet attain "world-class" status. He has written several features for this magazine and took part in the Hurricane Katrina coverage that won The Sun Herald of Biloxi/Gulfport, Miss., another former employer, a Pulitzer Prize. Lacour is single and lives in NoDa.

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