Lessenberry: And as for the Stars and Bars …

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The nation has gone on a positive orgy of Confederate flag-bashing ever since Dylann Roof murdered nine black people in a South Carolina church last month.

Southern states are hauling it down! Flag manufacturers are declining to make the old Stars and Bars any more, and even Walmart will no longer sell what we think of as the flag of the Confederate States of America. (Actually, it wasn’t. Most people have no idea what the rebels’ official government flag was; the one that’s famous is a military battle flag.)

But no matter. The flag in modern times always has been a covert racist message, regardless of what anyone says. I’d be happy if I never saw one again, outside of reenactments of Pickett’s charge.

If we lose the flag, it gets shunned — wonderful. However, think about this: How many of those nine lives would have been saved if that messed-up sullen man-child couldn’t have paraded around his bedroom, limply holding a Confederate flag?

That would be, ah … zero. Now, think hard about this: How many people would have been saved if this disturbed little fuck had been prevented from buying a weapon of mass destruction; i.e. his Glock pistol, and carrying it into a church?

That would be, ah … most likely all of them. Well, maybe he could have stabbed someone with a knife before being overpowered, though he doesn’t look burly or gutsy enough to have done so.

That is as clear as simple arithmetic — but because of the power of the gun lobby and the minority of paranoid psychos it represents, no politician will even try to do anything sane and rational about guns.

So to make it appear as if they worth something, they are pretending it’s all about the flag. Someday, some civilized culture will see our worship of guns about the same way we regard the Aztec practice of cutting hearts out of living chests to please their gods.

If there is something amusing about this, it’s that ironically, the Stars and Bars didn’t even seem to mean all that much to Roof.

He evidently preferred the racist flags of the now thankfully extinct South African apartheid and Rhodesian regimes. Next time we have a massacre, I suggest we ban those flags too.

After all, that would be so much more effective than gun control. 

Jack Lessenberry is head of the journalism program at Wayne State University and the senior political analyst for Michigan Public Radio.

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