The latest faux rage incident has been directed at the Confederate flag. South Carolina governor Nikki Haley is calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol in response to the murder of nine black people in a Charleston church. Meanwhile, a congressman from Mississippi is sponsoring a resolution that would ban representations of the Confederate flag and any places it appears—including the state flag of Mississippi—from the halls of Congress.
Of course, people have every reason to be outraged by the shooting of the nine people in Charleston, but the backlash against the flag is just another political stunt.
After a tragedy like the one in Charleston, it is natural to want to “do something” to repair the wrong. Unfortunately, it appears that a lone omega male is responsible for the shooting. Was he motivated by hatred of black people? Yes, that is clear from his “manifesto.” He also posed with a Confederate flag, which he must have equated with a hatred of blacks.
But that doesn’t mean that everyone who displays a Confederate flag hates black people. I am not a Southerner, but I have always just assumed that for most Southerners, the flag is just an expression of Southern pride. This is certainly what it meant when it was painted on the General Lee in the television show The Dukes of Hazzard.
So on the one hand, the rage against the Confederate flag is just a case of grasping at low hanging fruit—it is not really possible to point to something systemic as the cause of the shooting so the politicians have chosen to focus on an easy target.
Exploiting a Tragedy for Political Gain
But this is more than just grasping at low hanging fruit. It is also a political stunt that exploits the shootings. Obviously, Haley is hoping this will benefit her politically. Perhaps she is looking to get a black vote or two in the next governor’s election. Or maybe she is thinking of attempting to unseat Hillary in 2020 and she thinks this initiative will gain her some national attention as a “caring” republican.
Haley is not the only person who is trying to use the tragedy to her advantage. Both President Obama and Hillary Clinton have used the Charleston shooting to push gun control. Mrs. Clinton even implied that the shooting might have something to do with white privilege, which is kind of funny. The shooter doesn’t seem all that privileged to me.
The final reason for using tragedies to inflame the public is to distract the voters from the fact that our elected officials are doing such a lousy job of representing their voters. They would rather have us angry at the Confederate flag than notice that our trade policies have effectively taken all manufacturing jobs from the United States, that US foreign policy is practically a joke, or that we have a big immigration problem.
The truth is that the US political class wants our votes, but they march to the tune dictated by their big money donors, including international interests.
So then, should we ban the Confederate flag? We can, but it won’t change anything. What does matter is that we once again make our political leaders beholden to the voters.