Favorite

Killer's failure 

Has any murdering terrorist ever failed more dramatically than Dylann Storm Roof? Like any punk with a gun, he managed to slaughter nine blameless African-American Christians at an historic church in Charleston, S.C. Intending to start a race war, he succeeded only in shocking the moral conscience of the state and nation. Racist atrocities like Roof's have left indelible stains on this country since its founding — Elaine (Phillips County) in 1919, Tulsa in 1921, the Birmingham church bombing of 1963. Any historian can provide a longer list, although white people have generally forgotten, partly out of shame.

To the extent that black people also forget, it's largely out of self-preservation. The African-American capacity for forgiveness often comes as a blessing and a surprise. If black people contemplated vengeance like my Irish Catholic ancestors, I've often observed, you couldn't live in the American South.

One would be naive to believe that anything essential has really changed this time. Except that the words and actions of many in South Carolina, "the home office of American sedition" as Esquire's inimitable (Irish Catholic) blogger Charles P. Pierce calls it, make it possible to think that something important already had.

I posted Pierce's initial response to the Charleston atrocity on my Facebook page. Because when fierce indignation's what you want, Charlie's your man.

"We should speak of it as an assault on the idea of a political commonwealth, which is what it was," Pierce wrote. "And we should speak of it as one more example of all of these, another link in a bloody chain of events that reaches all the way back to African wharves and Southern docks. It is not an isolated incident, not if you consider history as something alive that can live and breathe and bleed. We should speak of all these things. What happened in that church was a lot of things, but unspeakable is not one of them."

Pierce lampooned what he considered the crocodile tears of South Carolina politicians. He urged Gov. Nikki Haley to look at the "flag of treason" flying at the state Capitol before professing bewilderment.

Enter Emily Hanson, a Facebook friend I haven't actually met. Emily's profile picture showed her kissing a draft horse, one reason we connected. Another is that she often agrees with my columns.

"I am an Arkansan living in Charleston, S.C.," Hanson wrote. "Until today, I had a wonderful job telling visitors about the rich history of Charleston. I quit today because I will no longer wear the Confederate hat required by my employer. Not because the company is in any way racist or intolerant, but because I can no longer wear a symbol that represents slavery, hatred, brutality, and so much more to so many Americans.

"Mr. Pierce made many very valid points, but I caution him and anyone else who wants to get on a moral high horse and talk about the Southern docks and African wharves ... . PLEASE don't make this a Southern problem! It is America's problem and we ALL have to look at our beliefs, attitudes, and treatment of others and begin the change we want in the world to take root in our own soul. I believe it is high time to heal the wounds of our past and I did what I could today by refusing to wear a Confederate hat and praying in solidarity with the Charleston of today."

OK, so it's a little contradictory. It's not a Southern problem, but she'll be damned if she's wearing that Rebel hat.

Also from her Facebook page, I know that Emily took part in several of the multiracial civic and religious rites that have consumed the city since that terrible night. Along with an estimated 25,000 hand-holding mourners, she joined comedian and South Carolina native Stephen Colbert on the Ravenel Bridge spanning Charleston Harbor.

"Peace and love and unity in the Holy City," Colbert said.

Shortly after Gov. Haley and the rest of South Carolina's Republican establishment agreed to ask the legislature to quit playing make-believe and take down the accursed Confederate flag, Emily, bless her heart, posted some good news:

"I was contacted by my former employer, who ... has decided to retire the Confederate hat as part of the uniform. (And I got my job back!) It goes to show that one person CAN make a difference! By thinking about what I could do as little old me, I have become a part of something far bigger than myself and part of a community that is ready to heal!"

Granted, it's only symbol. But symbols can express complex realities: This time was different. This time the murdering coward failed.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments (10)

Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

More by Gene Lyons

  • Megyn vs. Alex

    As vigorously hyped broadcast events go, Megyn Kelly's televised confrontation with internet conspiracy cultist Alex Jones proved something of a dud.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • Brown nosers

    If you've been wondering what "loyalty" means to President Trump, his most recent Cabinet meeting provides an illustration. Hint: It doesn't necessarily include loyalty to the United States of America.
    • Jun 15, 2017
  • Trump's weakness

    If cosmic justice prevails, Donald J. Trump could live to see the Atlantic Ocean roll through his beloved Mar-a-Lago resort from the sea to the Intracoastal Waterway. His children almost certainly will.
    • Jun 8, 2017
  • More »

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

  • Not again

    This just in: Nothing boosts circulation or enhances ratings like a sex scandal.
    • Jan 14, 2016
  • Never wrong

    Quite a few people make noises about leaving the country if the wrong person gets elected president. I've been making discreet inquiries in the vicinity of Kinsale, County Cork, myself — from whence my people emigrated after 1880.
    • Apr 21, 2016
  • Hillary hit jobs

    It's always been my conviction that if Hillary Clinton could be appointed president, she'd do a bang-up job. Getting elected, however, might prove more difficult.
    • Jul 28, 2016

Most Shared

  • Obamascare

    Republicans at long last may be about to see their most fervent wishes and wildest predictions materialize — millions of people losing their medical and hospital coverage, unaffordable insurance, lost jobs, a Medicare financial crisis, mushrooming federal budget deficits and fiscal crises across state governments.
  • Megyn vs. Alex

    As vigorously hyped broadcast events go, Megyn Kelly's televised confrontation with internet conspiracy cultist Alex Jones proved something of a dud.
  • Monkey wrenches

    Junior is 17 now, and shows no interest in driving, or even taking the driving test. It's got his Old Man a little concerned, and not just because we're running a car service for one these days.

Latest in Gene Lyons

  • Megyn vs. Alex

    As vigorously hyped broadcast events go, Megyn Kelly's televised confrontation with internet conspiracy cultist Alex Jones proved something of a dud.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • Brown nosers

    If you've been wondering what "loyalty" means to President Trump, his most recent Cabinet meeting provides an illustration. Hint: It doesn't necessarily include loyalty to the United States of America.
    • Jun 15, 2017
  • Trump's weakness

    If cosmic justice prevails, Donald J. Trump could live to see the Atlantic Ocean roll through his beloved Mar-a-Lago resort from the sea to the Intracoastal Waterway. His children almost certainly will.
    • Jun 8, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

June

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Megyn vs. Alex

    • But I do agree with him about the interview - Megyn Kelly rocked. Ridicule works.

    • on June 23, 2017
  • Re: Megyn vs. Alex

    • Good point. Your ratios don't make much sense, but a good point. I was not…

    • on June 23, 2017
  • Re: Megyn vs. Alex

    • @ investigator's, " I wonder why Lyons didn't also mention the absurd allegation that Donald…

    • on June 23, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation