Dylann Roof’s massacre of nine people at a South Carolina Church is just another example of how Americans close their eyes and refuse to politicize violence that reflects their culture but exaggerate the violence when it is committed by those they perceive as foreign. The debate over Roof has focused not on the origins of his White Supremacist hate, but rather on the symbol of his lifestyle, the Confederate Flag. Ban the hate, not just its symbols
By Ray Hanania
Americans are turning to the same twisted practices of hate and emotion to confront the increasing violence in America that they wrongly use to address violence from the Middle East.
Arrogance blinds Americans into embracing a hypocrisy that defends American violence while exaggerating Middle East violence into a moral justification for all their wrong, illegal and unprincipled actions — from the invasion of Iraq to the massacre of civilians by American soldiers that go largely unprosecuted. They defend war crimes committed by their political allies, like Israel, and exaggerate intentions of those nation’s they dislike, like Iran.
The recent terrorism by a white supremacist in South Carolina is yet another incident in which most Americans are living in hypocritical denial that is also causing a ridiculous debate that distinguishes between the symbols of hate and the haters themselves.
Only June 17, Dylann Roof, 21, walked into Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and spent an hour during the prayer service with the all black congregation. He then stood up and began expressing racist comments, and pulled out a weapon, massacring nine people in cold blood.
Immediately after the massacre, a debate involving two issues started in the mainstream American media and with American politicians.
The first involved the usual debate of American violence. Arabs and Muslims, who are all stereotyped as terrorists by Americans, argue that the suspect, Roof, should be prosecuted as a “terrorist” because of his actions. But many Americans argued against that, saying that he is not Muslim and not an official member of any religious group or organization that “advocates” violence.
Whenever a Muslim is involved in violence, Americans start screaming through politicians and the media, like Fox News, that they should be prosecuted as “terrorists” because their religious activities underlie extremist views.
But a second debate has emerged in the South Carolina massacres involving the symbol that Roof embraced, the Confederate flag, which found its origins in the American Civil War in the middle of the 19th century.
The Confederate or Rebel flag actually consisted of many designs.
The first three official flags were designed similar to the original American flag, with a square and stripes. The square on two of the flags had the crossing blue fields with white stars in them over a red background. This usually was placed on the upper left corner of the flags. Only a few Southern armies used the “square” design as their actual flag. Over the years, the variety of Confederate flags was replaced and one flag that uses a rectangular version of the “stars and bars.”
That’s the one that Roof displayed often.
The real issue though isn’t the symbols of his hatred.
Just like the Middle East and racism against Muslims, not all white people in the American South are racist, even though many supported the confederate war against the North.
The Civil War involved many complex issues and only one was the issue of slavery. The fact is many Northerners who fought against the Confederates supported slavery, too.
But Roof is a member of a growing American movement that Americans have refused to crack down on because it undermines their simplistic battle against Muslims and their unprincipled support of Israel and opposition to Arab rights including in Palestine.
Roof is a white supremacist. Although some of his friends, including African-Americans, insist they never heard racist expressions from him before he entered the church
But white supremacy is a violent movement in America. White supremacists maintain colonies through the country, engage in racist hate, and are a hardcore contingent of the fight against gun control in America.
Rather than rise up against the white supremacists in America, many Americans are steering the argument to the issue of the comparison to Islamic violence, and to the issue of the Confederate flag. They believe removing the flag will end the issue. But in truth, the Confederate flag is merely a symbol used and distorted by racists.
Instead of arguing over the flag, Americans should be closely scrutinizing the growing white supremacist movement, which celebrates Adolph Hitler and the hatred of blacks and other people of color, including Arabs and Muslims.
Battling over the flag raises fewer rocks and exposes fewer hypocrisies in American’s underbelly of racism.
Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @RayHanania. To find out more about Ray Hanania and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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