There is so much to say. So many facets to the issues of race, guns, hatred, terrorism, and tolerance. The latest incident of domestic terrorism in our country occured last Wednesday at the "bravest church in America", Emanuel A.M.E., in Charleston, South Carolina. Last week, Jon Stewart made a great point that in South Carolina, we expect our brothers and sisters of color to drive on roads named after Generals who fought to enslave their forefathers. We expect them to live in peace while a symbol of hatred flies at their statehouses. We expect that they stay silent while more and more of their children are being killed in the streets, schools, and churches. We expect them to be okay with our obliviousness, our intolerance. It's time we reevaluated these expectations.
The time is now to stand up and say "no more". We can no longer afford to tolerate hatred in our country.
First of all, quit with the Confederate flag. Just stop. When you say "Southern pride," we all know you really mean "racism". We know this because there are others ways to display your love of your home without the use of such a ridiculously divisive device. Nobody is being fooled here. I remember seeing a US Navy sailor walking around my shore duty command with a Confederate flag ring. He was a less than stellar Sailor, more so, he was a horrible representative of our great nation and its Navy. Why did our leaders allow this? How was his paraphernalia any different from a gang tattoo or colors? We didn't let the sailors who were previously associated with gangs wear their "branding," so why should we let those associated with hate groups wear theirs? South Carolina needs to act now to get that flag off of their state grounds. It should be eradicated from government and looked at as a representation of a shameful time in their history rather than with pride and nostalgia.
Second, let's not be afraid to talk about race. I'm a pasty white guy who was born in Springfield, IL and grew up in Bakersfield, CA. I am so lucky to have been raised by a single mother who taught me about equality and the lessons of the past. My father, on the other hand, is probably wearing a Confederate flag shirt right now. I get uncomfortable and self-conscious when talking about race, and I think that's a very good thing. I cannot possibly know what it's like to get pulled over because I'm the wrong color in some affluent neighborhood. I cannot possibly know what it's like to live in fear of authority. I cannot possibly know how it would feel, as a parent, to fear that someone might kill my son simply for his physical characteristics. But I'm still going to talk about it.
I remember growing up and seeing the pre-teens and teenagers around my neighborhood emulating their older brothers and their fathers, talking about how they were proud "Peckerwoods" (a white supremacist gang who originated in California and flourished in prisons around the state). I cannot believe that we allow these types of organizations to exist. Why is the KKK still a thing? It's not about free speech when you are encouraging folks to harm, and sometimes murder, innocent people. These organizations should be designated domestic terrorist groups and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If the law doesn't go far enough, then write some new laws!
Jon Stewart nailed it when told us that Al Qaeda, ISIS, and all of those guys don't have shit on what we do to ourselves. We literally spend trillions of taxpayer dollars trying to take these guys out. My brothers and sisters in the U.S. armed forces even invaded two countries "to protect Americans," but we can't seem to get our act together here at home to protect young men and women of color in our streets or even their own churches. We ought to be ashamed.
Finally, stop saying that we need to gather all of the facts, or that the country needs time to mourn. Neither of those things are true. The country is mourned out. We've mourned for the victims of gun violence and the victims of systemic racism too often in the past month, year, and decade. It is time we learn to concurrently mourn and change the narrative.
To those that say the shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. isn't a guns issue - I would agree with you. This is about racism and domestic terrorism. To assert otherwise means that you are probably part of the problem. However, it certainly points to a larger gun issue we have in our country.
Our time for mourning is over; new expectations must be set, and now is the time to take action, America. Do not tolerate hate in your community. Get out there. Have the conversations that need to be had, especially if they are uncomfortable.