Our dear friend Linda summed it up in a single statement the other night. We were having a group discussion about the murders in the AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, and Linda spoke so passionately about the racism in America. At the end of her emotional comments, she stated emphatically "Come on species - get your act together!!" Exactly.
Another mass murder in America; but this time there was an important difference. This killing was motivated by racial hatred, and the killer said later that his intent was to start a race war in America. This is an act of terrorism, and we citizens of America need to stop, think, and carefully consider the iceberg under this tip.
Humanity, Homo sapiens, is a species of apes that has evolved a large brain that, combined with manual dexterity, has allowed it to develop into the dominant organism on Earth. Humans have reached the point at which our actions are changing the climate of the planet. (I will leave for a future post the wide-ranging changes implicit in the term "climate change;" however, suffice it to say that every physical, chemical and biological system and process on Earth related to climate is being affected.) Yes, we are such an advanced species of animal that we are making our own habitat less habitable.
But how advanced are we, really? Unfortunately, closer examination leads us to conclude that we are not very advanced at all. Sociologically we are relatively primitive. We still cling to outdated ideas, mythologies and superstitions. We retain strong group bonds at various levels, bonds that often result in acts of cruelty. We are shocked to see on the news that ISIS has beheaded their captives - the barbarians! How convenient it is that we overlook the fact that good, white Christians have a history of beheadings, burnings at the stake, disembowelment, rape, torture and genocide. (No, I'm not part of the War on Christians; I'm simply using the Euro/American majority for my example.) Look around, and you will find that our mass behavior hasn't really changed so much, even though our technological achievements are rapid and astounding.
And this brings me (at last!) to the Confederate flag. I'm sorry to tell you that it's not about the frickin' flag. The Confederate flag is, and has been for a long time, an insult to everyone. Senator Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.) stated that the flag is "who we are" for South Carolinians (to be fair, you should listen to his remarks in context here). That flag has a place in history, and it's fine to display it as part of telling that history. Flying the Confederate flag at the Statehouse in S.C. simply says; "This flag symbolizes our history of slavery and the war we proudly fought to preserve it." Politicians in South Carolina have rushed to now remove the flag from the Statehouse - great - but this is not the story.
Walmart, Sears, Amazon, eBay and other retailers have announce that they will no longer sell items with the Confederate flag. Um, OK, but what took you so long? In other words, you've been selling this stuff up until now, but now you'll stop? So, the flag was not a problem, was not a symbol of slavery and racism, until a terrorist killed 9 Black Americans in their church? !!!
The Confederate flag is an insult to all of us when it is displayed by state or local government. But the flag is not the issue that needs our focus, and all the hoopla about it is a red herring meant to distract us from the real issues.
The main issue at play here is human nature. The fact that one human can brutally hurt or murder another innocent human is the real "who we are." If evolution can't change this behavior of our species, then we must consciously do it ourselves. The alternative to changing human behavior is a continuation of the human behaviors that result in hatred and murder. This has been for a long time, and continues to be the norm.
So yes Linda, I agree: "Come on species - get your act together!"