I truly struggled with the question of whether or not I wanted to weigh in on this. Occurrences of this nature tend to bring out the worst in everyone in my experience. A day or so after Dylann Roof walked into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and then walked out minutes later leaving nine bodies in his wake I casually weighed in on a social media thread where it was being discussed and within seconds was confronted by a barrage of progressive progs screaming at me that I was a white supremacist and should be ashamed at myself for even existing (oh how original). On the other side, watching members of the right twist themselves into pretzels trying to find a reason, any reason, for what occurred on that day other than the one that actually motivated it has been disheartening to put it lightly. Ultimately, I am a believer that first one must always speak the truth. That is what ultimately has convinced me to put my thoughts to print here, and I shall now speak a few truths that likely are going to outrage everyone and please no one but so be it.
What happened in Charleston, South Carolina was indefensible. It was an act of murder. It was an act of racism. It was an act of terrorism. There, I’ve said it. Dylann Roof had a warped, racist, twisted worldview and he decided to use terror to try and influence the world in accordance to it. That is terrorism by any definition. I’ve previously had arguments with people in the wake of mass shootings when various members of the post-modern left have tried to place the “t” label on them. An act of mass violence is not automatically an act of terrorism. It is in this case though. Dylann Roof was not some mentally unbalanced individual killing others for no other reason than apparently he could, as was the case at Sandy Hook and Columbine before it. He was motivated by hatred of African Americans and saw what he was doing as an act of combat in a wider struggle. In that sense he was no different than an Islamist suicide bomber detonating his explosive belt on some sun scorched battlefield in the Middle East. As a human being I find Mr. Roof’s murder of other human beings morally repugnant. As a Christian I see what he did as blasphemous. He is wrong. He is evil. He should be tried, found guilty, and executed.
There is no justification for murder. When rioters took to the streets of Baltimore, I said nothing could validate such actions. I say the same thing today of Dylann Roof and his act of mass murder. The state has a monopoly on the use of violence in society (excluding self defense). That truth applies to everyone. No reason, no motivation, no warped worldview gives an exception to this. The day Mr. Roof picked up a gun and decided to use it against others he forfeited his humanity, or rather he reverted to what human nature was before it was tamed by civil society. What he did was not an attack on human rights (human rights do not exist), it was an attack on civilization and in doing so he has lost the protection that civilization previously afforded him.
We on the right should not shy away from saying this, however much it might be uncomfortably for us to acknowledge that such sentiments do exist in this day and age. Indeed we should be the first to speak up. Racism is a false concept trotted out by demagogues to stir up the passions of the mob. Whether it is by speaking of the “1%” or the “black man”, opportunists use such spectres to divide society against itself and accrue more power to themselves. As an advocate for traditional, hierarchical authority I denounce such vile appeals to mob rule and demotism for what it is. Others of such sentiments should not hesitate to do so as well just because it puts them on the same side as Hillary Clinton and Al Sharpton. Indeed by refusing to speak we surrender the field to the progressive left, and give the impression that their proposed solutions are the only solutions.
On the debate surrounding the Confederate Flag my feelings are more mixed. I make no apologies about the fact I am entirely behind the Union on the question of the Civil War. Slavery offends both my morals and my sense of efficiency. It antiquates any society it exists in, and retards the natural development away from agrarianism towards industry and technological development. I also am firmly against secession in any circumstances. I view the nation an organic entity, one that is entirely indivisible. Forget Kosovo still belonging to Serbia, I’m the guy who goes around arguing it still belongs to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
But here is where it gets tricky. The flag in question that has caused all this debate is not actually the flag of the Confederate States of America. It is the battle flag of the Confederate army, which due to misconception has become equated by popular culture as the official flag of the Confederate government (which was actually an entirely different banner with a completely different design). So even if one is utterly opposed to the Confederacy, the flag that should draw your ire is the flag that actually represented it. What people have been arguing about is not that flag, but a flag that represents the Confederate military, and furthermore is flying at a memorial to fallen Confederate soldiers.
That is the key point here. One can oppose the Confederacy, but still show respect for the soldiers that fought for it. To begin with many of them didn’t actually support slavery itself. Only a tiny number of Southerners actually owned slaves. Most of the South’s leading generals, such as Robert E Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and James Longstreet were openly against it. Slavery was very much the catalyst to a wider debate in America that stemmed from the fact that at the time the country was divided between two very different regions, with two very different identities, and two very different concepts of how the nation should be governed. On one side was an industrial, urban society that advocated a strong federal government, the other was a rural, agrarian society that believed in a loose association of self-governing states. I very much identify with the former view, but I can respect the principles of the latter. I would also point out that there were Northern soldiers who had absolutely no issue with slavery, but objected strenuously to the idea that the South secede from the United States and thus enlisted. Should their names be stricken off the rolls of honour?
Furthermore a huge percentage of the Southern population fought in the Civil War, and a very large number of their descendants are alive today. If someone told me I could not honor the military service of my grandfathers and great-grandfathers I would likely be rather resentful. The Southern army was not the Wehrmacht or the Red Army or the Viet Cong, militaries that fought for causes so heinous and committed acts so barbarous it is impossible to separate the men who fought from the cause they fought for. That is not the case in the American Civil War, which was arguably the last relatively clean war fought between gentlemen. In fact, again under the principle that first one must always speak the truth, in the Civil War the most atrocious acts were carried out by Northern armies. Sherman burnt, pillaged and looted a path of destruction across the South in his march to the sea. In contrast the worst that could be said about the Army of Northern Virginia in its two invasions of the North was that it requisitioned some supplies, and even then foraging parties were under orders to pay for them (admittedly with Confederate currency which was absolutely worthless). Acknowledging this does not mean defending slavery in any way, shape or form. It merely accepts that quite often things are complicated, because human beings are complicated.
Ultimately, what we should strive for in society is tolerance. Genuine tolerance, not the moral relativism preached by progressive modernity, but rather a recognition that we are all human beings and that unless we are causing harm to others we ultimately should be left alone to do as we wish and think as we wish and feel as we wish. Dylann Roof did something terrible, and no one should hesitate in saying so. However, projecting Dylann Roof’s crimes upon society at large, as I have noticed some would be social justice warrior types attempting to do, is an ugly type of intolerance of a different kind. He was ultimately a twisted, evil, and prejudiced individual. What solace can be taken from this is that he very much is an exception to society at large today. Whether it is the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Union, or the American Nazi Party, organizations that cater to his beliefs and prejudices are very much on the fringes of American society today, made up of an ever declining membership of maladjusted social-outcasts, drug-addled degenerates, and criminal misfits. The best victory is not to give in to the politics of division, as Dylann Roof clearly hoped we would, but rather to stand united as human beings. Denounce the Charleston shootings for what they are, but do not turn them into something they are not. The truth is ugly enough as it is.