Nel's New Day

July 15, 2015

July 11, 2015

Confederate Flag Degrades South, Conservatives

Filed under: Racism — trp2011 @ 8:32 PM
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The symbolic Confederate battle flag didn’t fly in South Carolina for 100 years after the firing on Fort Sumter. Raised to the top of the capitol on April 11, 1961, ostensibly to celebrate the centennial celebration of the firing on Fort Sumter, it became a permanent fixture there because of a resolution from Rep. John A. May. The placement came from a shift of the Democratic party to the GOP in an attempt to protect the Southern way of life represented by racial segregation, white supremacy, and Jim Crow laws from federal intervention. The Ku Klux Klan also adopted the flag as their symbolism of racist hatred and intimation. Only the murders of nine black people, including a state senator, in a Charleston church brought the flat down on 10:00 EST on July 10, 2015.

A few weeks before the flag went up in 1961, ten black students were arrested and convicted because they refused to leave an all-white lunch counter in the state. Nine of them, known as the Friendship Nine, moved the civil rights forward by refusing bail in a strategy called “Jail, No Bail.” Taylor Branch wrote in Parting the Waters  that this action reverses the financial burden of protest so that demonstrators aren’t charged but white authorities must pay for the protesters’ food and jail space. The students, who did 30 days hard labor at a prison farm, led other demonstrators by their example. Early this year, a judge tossed out the trespassing convictions against the Friendship Nine, ruling that the men should never have been charged.

Many Southern conservatives, including 3 state senators and 27 state house members, claimed that the flag has no relationship to racism, but the 21-year-old white supremacist who killed the nine black people less than a month ago on June 17 proudly posed for photos with the Confederate flag. The debate in the state house lasted 13 hours because those who claimed that the flag is part of their heritage brought up 68 amendments to the bill, all of them voted down. They failed to persuade the others that the Civil War was about states’ rights and not slavery and racism.

Rep. Mike Pitts declared that the flag shows how dirt-poor southern farmers fought Yankees who were invading their land. He wants the legislature to respect the Confederate soldiers exactly like soldiers who have fought in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Ruben Bolling’s history of the Confederate flag in the South:

confederate flag cartoon

 

The argument about flying the Confederate flag moved to the U.S. Congress when the House passed three measures barring the flag’s use on federal lands on the same day that the South Carolina senate passed the bill to take down its flag. An amendment was added to a National Parks Service spending bill to stop the use of Confederate flags in national cemeteries. Another amendment confirmed a NPS request that its stores remove items featuring the flag as a symbol, just as retailers such as Walmart and Amazon have done. A third amendment blocked funding for the Confederate flag on National Park land unless it provides historical context, in line with NPS policy. The amendments passed by voice votes in the U.S. House.

Late the next day, however, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) put up an amendment allowing federal cemeteries to keep the Confederate flag. The vote to keep the Confederate flag on federal property was scheduled for July 9, the anniversary of the ratification of the 14th Amendment promising equal protection of the laws. Rep. Lynn A. Westmoreland (R-GA) told reporters that the Confederate battle flag isn’t racist and that he didn’t think Confederate soldiers had “any thoughts about slavery.” Negative publicity caused the appropriations bill–and Calvert’s amendment–to be pulled from the floor.

Over 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech against slavery using the biblical directive that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) gave conservatives control over his agenda when he chose to pass bills with only Republican votes. Republicans are becoming more and more divided against themselves because extreme conservatives withhold their votes if they don’t get what they want. Conservative groups such as Heritage Action, from the Heritage Foundation, also wield great power, just as they did in the 2013 government shutdown and the current position of keeping the Export-Import Bank from being reauthorized.

After Boehner pulled the appropriations bill, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) proposed a measure to remove any flags with Confederate symbols from the U.S. Capitol. At least five states—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi—have incorporated parts of the Confederate flag in their state flag, and Mississippi includes the complete Confederate flag as part of its state design. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the only black representative from Mississippi, introduced the same resolution a month ago and does not display his state flag in his congressional office. He said:

“We are a nation of laws. We should not identify with symbols of hatred and bigotry. That flag, those symbols, should be put in a museum. They should not be flown under any circumstance where there is freedom and dignity in this great institution of ours.”

A vote sent the resolution to a committee after Democrats demanded a paper vote following the contentious voice vote to show people who is willing to vote in favor of a symbol of hatred and violence. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), complained, “We’ve put our heads [out] like a pumpkin on a stick and given [Democrats] a baseball bat.”

On Friday, the House Republicans suspended work on appropriations bills, fearing more amendments from Democrats related to the Confederate flag. The House also cannot vote on the funding bill until after it votes on the Calvert amendment to put Confederate flags into all federal cemeteries. The flag isn’t the only problem. Boehner said that he will put together a commission to examine the use of Confederate symbols in the Capitol which will include statues of Jefferson Davis and John Calhoun, fighters for slavery. The party that understands they can’t win with only white male voters may not want to be seen as the party fighting for the Confederate symbols. Boehner has “for some adults here in the Congress to actually sit down and have a conversation about how to address this issue.” He didn’t say where he plans to find these adults.

GOP presidential candidates are split on the issue of taking down the Confederate flag. The most extreme ones claimed “states’ rights” which translates into “I’m afraid of saying anything that could get me in trouble.” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker followed South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in a rapid “evolution” to taking down the flag in South Carolina after Haley moved from “no big deal” to “big deal,” possible on her way to becoming a potential vice-presidential candidate. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal extended states’ rights by tacking on the old “don’t talk about it while we’re in mourning” translated as “let it blow over so we don’t have to deal with it” approach, commonly used for mass shootings.

Attention to the Confederate flag kept the discourse from gun sense laws after the killings until the information surfaced that the NRA-backed three-day law for background checks allowed the Charleston killer to purchase a gun. A breakdown in communication between police departments and county government resulted in lack of sufficient knowledge to deny the killer a gun based on his drug-related felony charge.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) tried to use the lack of communication as a reason to keep from enacting more strict gun sense laws. The real problem, however, comes from gaps caused by powerful gun-manufacturing-controlled groups. Requiring all records from prohibited people to go into one system with background checks required for all gun sales would have stopped this horrifying glitch. At this time, records are spread out enough that some people slip through the limit of three business days to deny or approve a purchase before the dealer can automatically complete the sale. Another part of the problem is the laxness of law enforcement. For example, some county sheriffs in Oregon are saying that they will give low priority to the new background check for all gun sellers.

Michael Lind, historian and native Southerner, explained the way that greed and class domination joins racism to drive the economic system. Over 100 years ago, the Redeemers, pro-business Southern politicians, vowed to undo the post-Civil War Reconstruction racial and economic reforms. When the federal government turned the responsibility for educating the poor, building hospitals and roads, and creating the nation’s first national health care system for freed slaves, Redeemers dropped all these programs to cut taxes for wealthy plantation owners. Today’s Republicans in the South follow the same pattern, keeping workers dependent on employers so that employees won’t get “uppity.” Poor people with no benefits have no control over their lives, and corporations have cheap labor in these states with the greatest poverty and worst health in the nation. In addition, prisoners provide unpaid labor for private businesses.

The South today: the love of the Confederate flag and guns protecting the top 1 percent while the rest of the people don’t even know they’re being flim-flammed.

July 5, 2015

White Terrorists Spread Lies to Keep Power

 

The horror of tragedies in the United States is short-lived. The more optimistic of us thought that there could be a change in laws after 20 children were killed in Newtown (CT) because of the country’s lax gun laws. After a few weeks of the NRA railing against the “politicizing” of these deaths, the U.S. went back to normal, increasing the number of guns in the hands of irresponsible people. Since then every mass shooting has resulted in decreased responsibility for these deaths and looser gun laws.

Not even a month ago after a white terrorist killed nine black people at a bible study class in a Charleston (SC) church, an uproar against the praise of the Confederate flag, a symbol of treason against the United States, seemed to be making a difference. My conservative newspaper in Oregon commended Republicans such as South Carolina’s governor, Nikki Haley, for asking that the flag be removed from the state grounds. The article failed to mention that no action has been taken, even to protect blacks from having to walk under the despicable flag to honor black state Sen. Clementa Pinkney, one of the slain in the church. South Carolina needs a two-thirds vote to take down the flag, and it’s most unlikely that this will happen. For example, State Rep. Lee Bright compared removing the flag to a “Stalinist purge,” brutal murders of ideological dissidents by a totalitarian dictatorship.

The civil war against the flying of the Confederate flag is over, and the terrorists have won. The United States maintains its exceptionalist approach toward stupidity after a poll shows that 57 percent of people in the United States perceives the treasonous flag as a symbol of “Southern pride” rather than its reality of racism. That’s only two percent less than 15 years ago.

The recent polling has undoubtedly put GOP members recommending the removal of the flag in a quandary. Their first reaction was undoubtedly in response to massive media objections after the killing, and the state General Assembly was scheduled to being debate tomorrow about removing the flag that was installed on state grounds in 1961 in protest of civil rights. The poll puts the issue in a different light for them, especially after South Carolina residents began getting robocalls on Friday comparing the movement to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds to ISIS. The newly formed Conservative Response Team (CRT), a pending non-profit organization with unspecified funding, started with 40,000 robocalls.

South Carolina officials has given approval to the white supremacist “Loyal White Knights” chapter of the Ku Klux Klan to hold a pro-Confederate flag rally at the state capitol on June 17, one month and one day after the killings in the Charleston church. The chapter calls the killer a “warrior.”

Part of the positive polling about the Confederate flag is that white Southerners, unlike Germans after World War II, never accepted blame for the war’s devastation and its bigotry. Schools in the South still teach that blacks were happier in slavery, that the North was really responsible for the war, that the issue was more about interpretations of the Constitution, and that white Southerners were the true victims in “the war of Northern aggression.” Confederate pride led to lynchings of blacks and continued with the use of the Confederate flag to declare white supremacy as a license to kill innocent black people.  The recent Charleston killing came from these beliefs, the racist propaganda and lies about black-on-white crime.

Whenever approached with a question that might cause a GOP presidential candidate trouble with part of his constituency, the response is using to let the state make a decision. That’s Mike Huckabee’s response to the removal of the Confederate flag. Rick Perry went farther into stupidity to find a reason: prescription drugs.

 “This is the (modus operandi) of this administration, any time there is an accident like this. The president is clear, he doesn’t like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message…. It seems to me, again without having all the details about this, that these individuals have been medicated and there may be a real issue in this country from the standpoint of these drugs and how they’re used.”

Former 1960s pop singer Pat Boone represents the epitome of the white Southerner reaction to the killings at the Charleston church in his excoriation of President Obama, a black man who Boone says failed to stop racism:

 “At no time do I recall your mentioning the far greater instances of ‘black on black’ crimes, the high percentage of crimes of all types committed annually by blacks, or the senseless looting and violence that follows the inflamed ‘protests’ after one of the above-mentioned incidents. Strange that you, our half-white president, have little to say about these things.”

Indeed, the president talked about the subject and started My Brother’s Keeper Initiative while the MBK Task Force has issued a 1st Year Progress Report. Yet white supremacist blogs—and the Fox network—continue to lie about the danger of blacks to the whites in the United States.

After Fox reported that 92 percent of murdered black people are killed by other blacks, there was no big announcement that 84 percent of white murdered people were by other whites. Even worse, this data shows only those murders with one offender or one victim. That leaves out the Charleston killer because there were nine victims—and all the other mass shootings which are primarily done by white males. The actual percentage of blacks killed by blacks is 55 percent while white-on-white murders is 62.7 percent, 7 percent higher than blacks.

According to the FBI, terrorism is “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives,” and Title 22 of U.S. Code, Section 2656f(d) defines it as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”

The mission of the killer in the Charleston church was to kill black people in order to start a new civil war against blacks. Two weeks after the tragedy, FBI Director James Comey refused to call the gruesome attack “terrorism” because he doesn’t see it as a “political act.” To Corney, starting a race war is not “political.” Floyd Corkins II, a black man, was labeled a terrorist when he only intended to shoot people in the offices of the Family Research Counsel. That’s white entitlement.

PULASKI, TN - JULY 11:  Members of the Fraternal White Knights of the Ku Klux Clan participate in the 11th Annual Nathan Bedford Forrest Birthday march July 11, 2009 in Pulaski, Tennessee. With a poor economy and the first African-American president in office, there has been a rise in extremist activity in many parts of America. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2008 the number of hate groups rose to 926, up 4 percent from 2007, and 54 percent since 2000. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War and played a role in the postwar establishment of the first Ku Klux Klan organization opposing the reconstruction era in the South.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

PULASKI, TN – JULY 11: Members of the Fraternal White Knights of the Ku Klux Clan participate in the 11th Annual Nathan Bedford Forrest Birthday march July 11, 2009 in Pulaski, Tennessee. With a poor economy and the first African-American president in office, there has been a rise in extremist activity in many parts of America. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2008 the number of hate groups rose to 926, up 4 percent from 2007, and 54 percent since 2000. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War and played a role in the postwar establishment of the first Ku Klux Klan organization opposing the reconstruction era in the South. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The continued practice of flying the Confederate flag on the capitol grounds demonstrates the willingness of whites to humiliate and intimidate blacks. The whites are declaring that their right to pride and power is more important than any other belief. The Charleston killer didn’t celebrate the pride of the Confederate flag when he went to the church to kill black people. He wasn’t celebrating his belief in the violent use of force against blacks in the United States. As GOP presidential candidate said, the flag is “who we are.” Yet that image of the  Confederate flag supporters demonstrates danger to people in the United States.

June 28, 2015

‘Christian’ Opposition to LGBT Rights, Healthcare with Love for Confederate Flag

The white, entitled male, Christian fundamentalists were traumatized last week with important events negating their view of how the United States should benefit only them and their beliefs. Their reactions show that they are close to insanity.

On legalized marriage equality:

American Family Radio’s Bryan Fischer covered the complaint waterfront by comparing the ruling to the attacks on the U.S. on 9/11 and Pearl Harbor with a nod to Sodom and Gomorrah, “From a moral standpoint, 6/26 is the new 9/11 because it was on this day that five justices of the United States Supreme Court became moral jihadists.” He continued by saying that June 26, 2015 is “a date which will live in infamy. On this day, the United States became Sodom and Gomorrah.”

GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee predicts that Christians will fight same-sex marriage just as Dr. Martin Luther King fought racial discrimination. He called on conservative Christians to participate in his “Biblical disobedience” campaign against the “false god of judicial supremacy” before he compared the ruling to the Dred Scott case upholding the Fugitive Slave Act returning slaves to their “owners.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) believes that God won’t protect the United States any more because the court “violates the law in order to destroy the foundational building block for society provided by Nature and Nature’s God—that was stated as divine law by Moses and Jesus.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who signed an executive order to discriminate against LGBT people in the name of “religious freedom,” said, “If we want to save some money, let’s just get rid of the court.” Jindal declared himself a GOP presidential candidate last week.

On Breitbart, John Nolte wrote about the need to take down the “fascist, anti-Christian gay-pride flag” because it fosters hate and intolerance against Christians.

A growing movement in conservative states to eliminate same-sex marriage is to eliminate all marriages.

  • Utah Republicans are drafting a bill to “end government agencies’ involvement in issuing marriage licenses.” (Rep. Jake Anderegg, a supporter of the bill, admitted that it had problems because of the laws including probate, inheritance and other benefits tied to marriage. Mr. Anderegg, that was the reason that LGBT people went to court for marriage rights!)
  • Michigan is working on legislation requiring all marriages be “ordained” by clergy, who are not required to perform ceremonies against their “firmly held religious beliefs.”
  • Alabama probate judge Wes Allen of Pike County has declared that he will protest the marriage equality ruling by no longer issuing any marriage licenses, and Geneva County Probate Judge Fred Hamic said he plans to permanently close his office’s marriage license bureau. Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore also says he will resist the ruling.
  • Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said the decision is not effective in the state until the 5th Circuit Court lifts its stay, and State House Judiciary Chairman Andy Gipson suggested that Mississippi follow other states in no longer issuing marriage licenses.
  • Louisiana Attorney Gen. Buddy Caldwell said his office is not immediately enforcing the ruling because there wasn’t a specific mandate in the decision for Louisiana to issue marriage licenses.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stated that the SCOTUS marriage equality ruling will “embolden” people to abuse Christians because “an increasingly-activist [sic] judiciary” takes away First Amendment rights, which Paxton thinks are there to abuse anyone who doesn’t follow Paxton’s religion.

Pastor Rick Scarborough has decided not to set himself on fire, despite his promise that he would do this if the U.S. enshrined marriage equality. He said that “we will burn” really means that “we will accept any sanction from the government for resisting today’s Supreme Court decision. We do not support any violence or physical harm.” In the same discussion about burning, Scarborough encouraged pastors to say “shoot me first” if bakeries, and florists are “persecuted” for refusing service to LGBT individuals. No follow-up for that statement, but he didn’t ask anyone to shoot him—just recommended that they shoot other pastors.

On keeping healthcare subsidies for low-income people:

Huckabee complained about the Supreme Court rulings being made by “five unelected lawyers … who decided they knew better than the legislators who actually get to make law.” (I don’t remember his complaining about the five unelected lawyers who took contraception for millions of women in the United States.) He also used the usual term “judicial tyranny” to describe court decisions that he hates.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told Elizabeth Prann on Fox network yesterday that Obamacare is “a malignant tumor that is metastasizing, and feeding on God-given American liberty.” He concluded by saying that people “were fine before they met Obamacare, and will get along fine without Obamacare.”

On the killings in the Charleston (SC) church and the pleas to remove the Confederate flag from government property:

South Carolina State Rep. William Chumley blamed his colleague, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, and eight other people in the church for being killed. Echoing the NRA claimed, Chumley said that there would be “less funerals” if the people hadn’t “sat in there [and] waited their turn to be shot.”

Pat Boone knows that Satan caused the Charleston murders and criticizes President Obama for connecting the killings with racism. According to Boone, the killer “was carefully prepared and led by the Devil himself to kill as many Christians as he could. The fact that they were black was an excuse more than a reason.”

Tennessee State Sen. John Stevens compared the suggestion of renaming the Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park to the actions of ISIS. Forrest was a terrorist member of the KKK.

Pundit Ann Coulter accused Nikki Haley of not understanding “America’s history” because she is “an immigrant” because the governor of South Carolina suggested that the Confederate flag be removed from state grounds. As a self-identified “student of American history,” Coulter should remember that the Confederacy attacked the United States of America and caused 620,000 deaths. She did remember that it was a “battle flag” but said that “anyone who knows the first thing about military history, knows that there is no greater army that ever took the field than the Confederate Army.”

Bill O’Reilly told Juan Willians on the Fox network that the Confederate Flag “represents bravery.”

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said he totally “disregarded” a report that white supremacists, anti-government extremists, and others have killed nearly twice as many people as radical Muslims since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Instead, he talked about organized attacks by Muslim extremists, including the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Huckabee, who has something to say about everything, says that the cure for racism is Christianity—the same religion that still has members who want “separate but equal” for blacks and whites.

Usually, disasters bring out the prejudice against the LGBT community. That position is transitioning to hatred primarily for transgender people. On Red State, Erick Erickson blamed Caitlyn Jenner for the killings as did Erich Pratt of Gun Owners of America.

Alabama GOP Gov. Robert Bentley ordered the Confederate flag be removed from the state Capitol grounds so that it won’t be a “major distraction” for the budget talks. At the same time, South Carolina refused to remove the flag or even lower it when one of the slain people at the Charleston church, state senator and Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was taken to the capitol for public viewing by hundreds of people. Rep. James Clyburn, the elder statesman of South Carolina politics, requested that they take it down just for the viewing, but the legislators refused. State Sen. J. Thomas McElveen III spoke for millions of people in the United States when he said, “I am troubled that the flag a murderer waved as a banner of hatred flies as his body lies in repose.

bree newsomeEarly yesterday morning, Bree Newsome climbed the 30-foot flag pole on the South Carolina capitol grounds to tear down the Confederate flag. The protest was shortlived; a black state employee was ordered to return the flag. The action needed to be fast because of the “Confederate flag pride” rally scheduled that morning where white people waved dozens of Confederate flags. The black man who told them that the flag represents a time of black slavery and the war fought to keep them in bondage was told to “go back to where you came from.” He responded, “I am where I came from.”

Since the killings, nighttime fires have damaged or destroyed at least six predominantly black churches in four southern states in the past week. At least three of them were from arson. The first one was at a Tennessee Seventh Day Adventist Church last Monday, followed by a fire at God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon (GA) and another in North Carolina.

Last week saw remarkable advances for people in this country, but we have a long way to go to overcome the strong sense of entitlement by people like the shooter and the white fundamentalist Christians who think that they own the United States.

June 18, 2015

Victories Accompanied by Another Tragic Shooting

A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled 2-1 in Turkmen v. Ashcroft that George W. Bush officials can be sued for roundups and illegal detentions. Plaintiffs of Arab and Middle Eastern descent were held for three to eight months in New York for being “suspected terrorists” and claim that they were abused and profiled by guards and other authority figures. That decision was presented the day after 78 senators voted against torture. Twenty-one senators favor torture, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was out of town, presumably campaigning.

In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Sons of Confederate Veterans cannot force Texas to allow the Confederate flag on car license plates. The astonishing part of the ruling is the fifth justice who voted with the four liberal judges—Clarence Thomas. He also dissented with a majority in Virginia v. Black (2003), writing that cross-burning violates the First Amendment right to free speech because it “has almost invariably meant lawlessness and understandably instills in its victims well-grounded fear of physical violence.” Not all Southern states have the same concern about the state’s endorsement of racism: South Carolina still flies the Confederate flag on state capitol grounds and allows Confederate vanity license plates.

One person with South Carolina Confederate plates is the white man in a hoodie who went to a Bible study class last night in an historic Charleston (SC) church where he killed nine people with a gun he bought from the money that his father gave him for his 21st birthday. The killing was on the same date that Denmark Vesey, a former slave, was targeted for what white Charlestonians believed was a revolt. Vesey was captured on June 22 and executed on July 2.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that the people, all Black, were murdered because they were Christians, and another presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, agreed with Graham. The Fox network and other conservative media are spreading the same word. To them, the location of killings in a church identifies the murder of a “war on Christians.” Fox & Friends also claimed that the deaths could have been prevented if the congregation had been armed, and they pulled in Virginia’s former lieutenant governor candidate to back them up. Known for calling the LGBT rights movement a “cancer” and President Obama as a “radical anti-American” and “anti-Christian,” E. W. Jackson urged “pastors and men in these churches to prepare to defend themselves,” and host Brian Kilmeade wondered if giving pastors a gun could help with “security.” Later in the show, Steve Doocy and Elisabeth Hasselbeck agreed.

Once again Fox spreads the insanity. An analysis of 62 mass public shootings over a 30-year period by Mother Jones found no cases in which an ordinary civilian with a gun stopped an attack although some instances showed that a gun caused the death or injury of that person.

Presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told an audience of social conservatives:

“There’s a sickness in our country. There’s something terribly wrong. But it isn’t going to be fixed by your government. It’s people straying away, it’s people not understanding where salvation comes from. I think if we understand that, we’ll have better expectations of what to expect from government.”

Paul did not give any solutions about curing the “sickness.”

confederate flagThe day after this tragedy, flags at the South Carolina capitol are at half mast—except for the Confederate flag. Gov. Nikki Haley cried at the news conference about the killings but earlier said that she didn’t think that the Confederate flag presented an image problem. Today Haley’s press secretary said that only the General Assembly had the legal authority to do something about the flag. No one from that body has responded to any requests about it. South Carolina is one of five states without a state hate crime law and celebrated “Confederate Memorial Day” last month.

South Carolina has 19 known hate groups, including two Ku Klux Klans and four “white nationalist” organizations. Of course, they aren’t “terrorist groups” because they aren’t Muslims. Six neo-Confederate groups listed include two branches of the League of the South, which advocates for Southern secession and “the advancement of Anglo-Celtic culture.” The Council of Conservative Citizens is opposed to racial integration and affirmative action “and similar measures to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people.” One of its key figures, Kyle Rogers, said, “I don’t see a legacy of oppression. Blacks have always benefited from being in the United States.” Other hate groups include three neo-Nazi cells, a chapter of the racist skinhead movement Confederate Hammerskins, a branch of black separatist organization Nation of Islam, an “anti-gay” church and an anti-immigration protest group called Americans Have Had Enough.

Graham and other conservatives have been spreading the fear about foreign terrorists and claiming that the U.S. needs to go to war in order to be safe. At the same time, these people ignore heavily armed, violent domestic terrorists, many of them supported by the law. How many of these groups exist in the country is unknown because the Department of Homeland Security stopped an investigation into homeland terrorism six years ago.

Daryl Johnson, a top government counterterrorism analyst, spent six years working at Homeland Security, collecting extensive data on far-right extremist groups posing threats to people in the United States. After the first election of President Obama, these groups went farther right, and Johnson reported that radical Islam is just a small portion of the terrorism groups within the nation. He noted that five totally domestic groups considered using weapons of mass destruction during his investigation, and the same warnings were expressed by the two principal non-government groups that track domestic terrorism: the New York-based Anti-Defamation League and the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Last year the SPLC listed 13 major incidents and arrests last year, almost double the annual number in previous years. In 2010, the number of hate groups topped 1,000 in 2010, for the first time in at least two decades.

After Johnson was forced out of his position, President Obama has received an unprecedented number of death threats, hate groups have gained ground, and white supremacist attacks are regularly occurring. In places such as Nevada’s Bundy ranch, terrorists successfully faced down the federal government. Congress holds hearings about Muslim extremism but says nothing about domestic terrorism. Their silence allows the extremist movement to grow as the common statement after tragedies such as the one at the South Carolina church is that the event shouldn’t be politicized and people need to have time to mourn before taking action. The only action that occurs after mass shootings at this time is an increasing laxness of gun laws.

The killer’s license plate had three Confederate flags, and the patches on his jacket were flags of Rhodesia and apartheid-era South Africa with brutal segregation policies. He also shouted, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” That’s racism, not an attack on Christianity. And people with these beliefs aren’t going to change them just because Rand Paul thinks that it’s a good idea.

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