As you probably forgot, jihadis affiliated with Al-Qaeda killed more than 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001. Since then, thwarting terrorism has been a top priority of American policy and discourse, and the country has agreed, kind of, that even longstanding interpretations of the Bill of Rights are less important than the threat posed by radical Islam. Also since then, self-proclaimed jihadis have killed 26 Americans, while domestic right-wing and anti-government terrorists have killed 48. Those numbers come from the Washington research group New America, as summarized by this article in the New York Times. Ask most candidates for public office, and Muslim terrorists are an existential threat to the United States. Ask law enforcement, and the bigger problem is right-wing extremists.
Before Dylann Storm Roof almost didn’t kill nine black churchgoers but then did it anyway, he read a list of black-on-white murders compiled by the Council of Conservative Citizens. That group developed out of the now-defunct White Citizens’ Councils, and it is still a white primacy organization. It has also donated a lot of money to Republican politicians, including Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker. The CCC supports the GOP, but not the other way around. Of course, the GOP does oppose affirmative action, and it supports states’ rights and strong limits on immigration and other polices that racists happen to like. But the Republican Party is not racist. It just happens to hold many of the same policy positions as a white primacy organization.
The question of what to do with the Confederate battle flag is easy to answer: hang it in your frat house window instead of a curtain. Or adhere it to the back of your truck. You can even wear it on a shirt while your Big & Rich shirt is in the wash. These uses of the Confederate flag occur in different contexts and reflect its diverse meanings, but they all send the same essential message: I am white. Over at the Atlantic, Yoni Appelbaum reflects on the problem with having a flag of whiteness, first designed by the losing side in a war over slavery and reinvigorated in the backlash against desegregation. Meanwhile, in the part of America that does not read the Atlantic, Republican candidates for president are conspicuously mum.
After children have lost their other innate abilities—when they can no longer recognize facial expressions or manipulate objects, but instead swipe feebly at whatever images they hope to change—they will still have a keen sense of what’s fair. Fair is I get what you get. If you are, for example, one of a numerical minority of Americans whose parents were legally kept as slaves five generations ago, and you are twice as likely to be born into poverty and roughly one fifth as likely to successfully hail a cab, it’s unfair that I don’t get to say the n-word. I thought racism was supposed to be over, but here we are giving people special privileges. Today is Friday, which is totally unfair to Thursday, when you think about it. Won’t you forget where we came from with me?
Did you know Rep. Ryan Zinke (R–MT) used to be a Navy SEAL? The picture of himself he provided to Breitbart News appears to be about 15 years old, but it still lends credibility to his assertion that President Obama cannot be trusted to negotiate the Trans Pacific Partnership in America’s interest. Sure, that’s kind of an irresponsible statement for a freshman congressman to make. He’s basically describing a nightmare scenario. To whom is the President loyal if not the United States? Shouldn’t we launch some kind of investigation into his plans to use the TPP to benefit foreign parties? Normally I would greet such claims with skepticism, but Zinke is a war hero. He wouldn’t impugn the patriotism of the commander in chief unless he had a really good reason. Either that, or he’s not great at saying what he means. You can read my speculation on the subject in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent, which I wrote back when my eyes stayed level to the horizon without my even thinking about it. Now if I turn my head a certain way, I fall over. We’ll be back tomorrow, fair and imbalanced.