Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Long May She Wave - Hold On A Second

"Republican presidential hopefuls started an inter-party race to offer their somber condolences to the victims. But none of them blamed the country's gun policy."
The Xinhua News Agency

Even the Chinese know that we have a problem with guns in this country. In the week since a domestic terrorist opened fire on a Bible study group at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., a church he had targeted specifically because of its historic role in the fight for racial equality, pressure has come to bear - on a piece of cloth.

The Confederate flag being taken down across the South and being taken out of production at companies in America and in China, was actually one of three flags used throughout the War of Northern Aggression by the losers. The first flag was deemed too close to the design of the American flag. Then, the Army of Northern Virginia adopted a flag that has been described as a "square version" of what would later be adopted by the Army of Tennessee as the oblong Second Confederate Navy Jack. It is this flag - which represents to some Southerners their heritage, their history - that's being taken down throughout the South, well, at least it's starting to.

Typically, when America sustains its mass killing de jour, there's demands on the Left for gun control and a misguided, literally misinterpreted, attempt on the Right to point out that the 2nd Amendment says we can have as many guns as we want. Guns don't kill. People do. Yeah, idiots with guns kill. At what is seen by the rest of the world as an alarming rate.

Data from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and compiled by The Guardian newspaper: our annual homicide rate of 2.97 fatalities per 100,000 people is triple the rate in most other wealthy nations. Triple. Gun ownership in this country is approaching 1 gun per person. Recent surveys have repeatedly shown around 90% of gun owners support increased gun control. But, of course, the National Rifle Association controls the Congress and that's not going anywhere.

So, let's get rid of the Confederate flag. Yeah, that will stop nut jobs from reading lunatic websites like the one of the Council of Conservative Citizens. The successor to the old White Citizens Councils in the South has been a campaign donor to such forward-thinking people as Sen. Rand "The Nut Doesn't Fall Far From The Nut" Paul, Canadian Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Manitoba), former Senator and never President Rick Sanitarium, ex-Rep. Michele Batshit Bachmann, Mitten Romney, the incredibly appropropriately-named Rep. Louis Gohmert, former governor-turned Appalachian Trail hiker-turned Congressman Mark Sanford, super-dooper heroic vet and one-term Congressman Allen West, and famed swine deballer Rep. Joni Ernst. The company we keep.

We need to do both. Take down and burn the Confederate battle flag - and apparently replacements are going to be hard to find, as manufacturers have lined up to stop making them and everybody from Walmart to Amazon have stopped selling them - and have common sense gun laws. Universal background checks. The absolute, permanent, eternal, chiseled-in-stone ban on the manufacture and/or possession of the AK-47 and similar weaponry. A limit on the number of bullets you can buy and a limit on the size of magazines. Closing the gun-show loophole.

And, as the number of African Americans unjustly murdered by American law enforcement officials increases, the demilitarization of town, city, county and state police forces also needs to be done. Today. All these things. These are easy things to do. On his "WTF With Marc Maron" appearance Monday, President Obama lamented his continued disappointment at seemingly constantly having to speak to the nation about a mass murder. He said the closest he's come to losing his "Hawaiian chill" was when, in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, Congress did nothing. We all need to lose our shit over the continued spate of mass murders in this country.

Taking down the flag is almost secondary but it's been turned into the primary response. African Americans in the South drive on streets named for Confederate officers, drive or walk by statues of the same and, as if that's not bad enough, constantly are faced with the flag of their persecution, ownership, suppression, murder. Getting rid of this emblem of the South's heritage - newsflash: the Civil War lasted four days short of 4 years, you lost and this is what you want to celebrate? - has spread like wildfire in the last few days. That's all well and good. But, much as the NRA orchestrates a shift in focus to mental health care in America rather than guns, this time the American people have zeroed in on the Confederate flag. We can use that same focus to demand sensible, logical gun control.