When we sponsor racially motivated terrorism abroad, why do we wonder when it occurs at home?
Anyone who has visited Charleston will tell you that the city is gorgeous. Nestled on a harbor and dotted with palmetto trees and slate-roofed historic buildings, Charleston maintains an atmosphere of quiet sophistication; at once austere and trendy.
That's why what happened in Charleston this past week, although tragic, is so emblematic of present-day America. Like the country as a whole, the shooting in Charleston showed that the city is, like the United States as a whole, gifted with architectural and natural beauty, yet sponsor of and party to the most craven ugliness.
American talking heads are claiming this shooting was about something other than yet another gun falling into yet another pair of the wrong hands. They want to make this about religion or the Confederate flag. It looks like Kiev's Misanthropic Division has it figured out, though. They share Dylann Roof's repugnant political persuasions and have been engaging in ethnically motivated killing in Ukraine under the direction of the United States government, so at least they're able to identify one of their own.
Whistlin' Dixie in Western Ukraine
I am unable to pinpoint when exactly the Ukrainian “independence” movement lost me, but I think it was somewhere between Obama double-swearing there were no Nazis in Ukraine despite evidence to the contrary, and the “pro-democracy” protesters entering City Hall in Kiev and hanging up a Dixie flag.
I'm a white Northerner. To me, the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism, treason, and sedition. To a white Southerner, it is symbolic of their declaration of independence from the Union. Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, I often saw the Stars and Bars displayed on the back of pick-up trucks – pretty amusing given that Michigan was a Union state. Accustomed though I am to seeing it in geographically illogical locations, I couldn't for the life of me understand what in the name of all that was holy it was doing in Ukraine. Was there a midnight airing of Gone with the Wind on Ukrainian cable? Did Ukraine experience a sudden outbreak of Southern pride?
What were people supposedly protesting against their president and his cozy relationship with the Kremlin doing hanging up a Confederate flag? Why did my government expect me to support individuals who espouse a point of view and display a symbol that vast swathes of the American public find offensive? How did the American leadership justify this? Simple. They ignored it.
What's worse is the Russophobic media establishment, in a stunning display of ignorance and Americentrism, was in so much denial that they even tried to convince us that the Novorossiya flag resembled the Stars and Bars, with the implication that the “pro-Russian separatists” were the racists. The Moscow Times published an idiotic article claiming the separatists had straight up adopted the Confederate flag. It wasn't just the Moscow Times. Slate couldn't tell the difference, either. Neither could the trusty scribes at the Kyiv Post.
There are two types of people in the United States who have Confederate flags: actual racists and people who have what is, in my opinion, misplaced romantic nostalgia for the Old South and the Lost Cause. We can debate all day about whether Dixie should fly at the state capitol of South Carolina, but I think we can all agree that it doesn't belong in Eastern Europe.
I won't condescend to Ukrainians and pretend they don't know what the Confederate flag symbolizes. Paraded by the Ku Klux Klan and unfurled during the one hundred years of lynchings that the African American population endured, the Confederate flag has come to symbolize the racism and oppression of slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation.
Considering the outcry over the flag in recent days – and the fact that it enjoys questionable prestige during the best of times -- I think it's safe to say that the Confederate flag is something that many Americans and their leaders say find objectionable. I am uncertain why Washington felt comfortable turning a country over to protesters who hoisted up a flag that isn't exactly welcome in America itself. To be certain, it is a complicated and controversial symbol, but when it's accompanied by white power and Nazi regalia and torchlight parades honoring a Nazi collaborator, the meaning is entirely clear. So why is it unacceptable to fly in South Carolina and not worth mentioning when it's flying in a governmental office in Kiev?
For anyone who isn't a complete moron, the Novorossiya flag is derived from the Russian naval ensign.
It's Okay. It's Just That One Guy.
We're told that it's a “minority” of people in the Kiev coup government who are right-wing racists. We're told, no worries, only a few members of Azov and Aidar battalion are neo-Nazis. Just a few white supremacist dudes in the Rada. No big deal.
Dylann Roof was one racist terrorist with one gun. Imagine entire battalions of Dylann Roofs, armed with heavy weaponry, motivated by racial hatred, with the full weight of their government, the United States, and NATO behind them, operating with impunity.
Now you understand the situation in Ukraine. Now you understand why the ethnic Russians must fight back.
What I am hearing from the Americans and the media is that Dylann Roof is a monster. Roof has drug problems. He owns pro-apartheid paraphernalia. He wears a jacket emblazoned with the flag of Rhodesia. He takes selfies with the flag of the Confederacy. His manifesto is terrifying. Americans are livid with this kid, and rightly so. What's missing from the outrage is their inability to connect the dots between a home-grown terrorist and the extremists America is sponsoring abroad. If this is unacceptable here, why is America justifying the presence of people like this in Ukraine? Let's not pretend there are ideological distinctions or degrees of bigotry between Roof and the extremists in Ukraine.
Let's also not pretend Americans don't know. I think we're past the point where the media dutifully parrots Obama's lie that there are no Nazis in Ukraine. Several American media outlets have reported on Ukraine's little Nazi problem. The U.S. House admitted the Nazi role in Ukraine and voted against training Azov battalion, but there was neither outrage nor elation from the American press.
When the Obama administration finally realized that there was this thing called the internet, and Ukrainian Nazis are all over it, the narrative switched from denying their presence, to justifying it by claiming that neo-Nazis only make up a “minority” of the battalions and a “minority” of the Rada.
America has seen first-hand the damage that a “minority” — one person — can inflict when armed and motivated by ethnic hatred. When we sponsor racially motivated terrorism abroad, why do we wonder when it occurs at home?
Lisa Marie White is a regular contributor to Russia Insider. She literally cannot even cope with this crap anymore. She can be reached on Twitter: @lisa_white
Anyone is free to republish, copy, and redistribute the text in this content (but not the images or videos) in any medium or format, with the right to remix, transform, and build upon it, even commercially, as long as they provide a backlink and credit to Russia Insider. It is not necessary to notify Russia Insider. Licensed Creative Commons.