In The Wake Of The Tragedy In Charleston SC People Are Calling For The Removal Of The Confederate Flag. Is The Flag Just a Scapegoat For Bigger Issues?

Myrtle Beach, SC, Orlando, FL July 1, 2015

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-I’m not sure “blaming society” is the direction to go with the
Confederate flag donnybrook.  Dylann Roof was undoubtedly a deeply disturbed individual, and interviews with those around him indicate that there were numerous warning signs that his grenade of lunacy had its pin pulled quite some time ago.

The failure here is in reporting.  Even after hundreds of mass-shooting incidents in which it’s become painfully apparent that those closest to the shooter saw him going over the edge, we still keep seeing the failure to speak up, to tell someone in authority, that, “Hey, my cousin/brother/sister/uncle is acting like he’s about to go nuclear.”

Perhaps that renders my initial sentence a bit spurious, as it is society that has made mental illness such a bugbear, a bête noire that is feared even more than the consequences of ignoring it.  It seems that most families would rather have a relative who’s murdered people than one who’s *gasp* “crazy.”  This must stop.  We have to realize as a society that there are those among us whose elevators don’t go all the way to the top, and that some of those people are potentially dangerous to innocent victims.

In Florida, there’s a law called the Baker Act, which in stark contrast to the dysfunctional nature of most of the rest of the state works very well.  It allows for the involuntary commitment of individuals whom evidence indicates may have a mental illness or who may (this is important) pose a danger to themselves or others.

Properly applied and with adequate public awareness campaigning behind it, this sort of law in every state could do wonders for stopping the next Roof.

Myrtle Beach, SC Correspondent-This question has multiple angles. First of all I do understand how a person COULD be “offended” by the Confederacy; but this offense is most likely an uneducated one. The Confederacy and the flag are a part of the history of the United States—a history that cannot be erased. People who are offended by the flag really need to be educated. The Confederacy fought for states’ rights—not slavery—as the history books now seem to teach.  Slavery is NOT what the Confederate states or the Confederate flag stood for. Newsflash here: northern farmers, merchants, and the elite had slaves as well! As a whole we really need to stop with the black/white “thing” and work towards unity as a nation; however that’s a whole different topic.

Now, here is my main issue with the entire “flag” controversy; it’s a FLAG! It cannot hurt you unless you let it; it’s a symbol. It’s not a symbol of hatred. It’s not a symbol of white power. It’s simply a symbol of the Confederate states. Period.

The underlying problem here is that it is VERY easy for people to push hatred using the Confederate flag as a symbol. But these people are not a true representation of the flag. We really need to push towards a better understanding. We must start to assess children at a younger age for instabilities. I’m sure Dylann Roof displayed certain tendencies prior to this event. We cannot simply say “Oh he’s just shy, that’s why he has no friends” or “He’s just going through a phase”. Too often we fail ourselves by passing it off as something simple when we really need to work with parents, schools, etc to identify these problems before they turn into tragedies.

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-In the case of the Charleston tragedy and the subsequent debate and decision making process of the various entities that sanction removal of the cConfederate flag from the public squares of the South and elsewhere, the real issues in this terrible and heartbreaking occurrence are not the flag but the underlying societal failures that encompass the circumstances of the murders in Charleston.

The Confederate flag has become the current scapegoat for bigger issues that involve mental health and societal failures along with concerns that are associated with individuals like Dylann Storm Roof and others who have committed crimes in the name of mentally twisted thinking.

In order to restrain the deranged actions and retaliations of Roof and those with related behavioral patterns and tendencies, indicators and identifying factors should be put in place early on to help determine if there are serious behavioral issues within an individual. Those issues need to be brought to the forefront within the educational and mental health system to alleviate and prevent behavioral outcomes such as Roof’s and those of other offenders.

If a child or older youth is identified with moderate to severe behavioral tendencies within the school or mental health system, intervention programs should be made available for remediation and therapy for such difficulties.  If the indicators are there, such as family abuse, confused childhood issues, alcohol and improper drug use, threatening and hateful actions, criminal offenses and other alarm bell warnings, the parents and extended families of such individuals need to be made aware of the behavior patterns of the child and informed of what choices for intervention and help are available to them.  If the problems and behaviors persist beyond grade school and high school, and interventions and remedial solutions have not occurred, those in relationships with the individual must be proactive in following and reporting on the activities and actions of the individual that warrant critical attention.  In the case of Roof, the indicators were present with an abusive and neglectful family situation, drug use and criminal activity.  In addition, subsequent interactions with friends suggested the attitude of a disturbed individual.

The actions of deranged and unbalanced individuals are hard to follow and monitor, and laws do protect individuals from false accusations and incrimination, but in the case of Roof and other perpetrators of heinous crimes, intervention on the part of the local school system, mental health system and rehabilitation centers have to be part of the process.  With the current acceptance of anything goes and the politically correct denial that such behaviors are simply self-expression, the perpetuation and emergence of such individuals into the mainstream of society will continue. The confused minds of the Dylann Roofs of the world may not all be able to be rescued and rehabilitated, but they can certainly be identified and placed in a therapeutic setting to prevent future Charlestons.

Asheville, NC Correspondent-When a massive tragedy like the shooting in Charleston occurs, part of the grieving process involves looking for someone-or something-to blame. In this case, the racist diatribes of the young man who committed this heinous deed have drawn considerable attention to one of the patches on the vest he wore on that fateful day. The Confederate flag, the same flag that flies at a memorial for Confederate dead near the South Carolina capitol building, has been the center of controversy in recent weeks.

Make no mistake, removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state house, from the Mississippi state flag, or from any other decoration would not prevent this or any other act of racist violence. Symbols did not cause this atrocity; human cruelty did. There’s room in the aftermath of this senseless act to talk about mental illness, gun control, and the social isolation that drives men to evil. Yet, minimizing the role this iconography plays in our government is still the right thing to do.

Daily, African Americans in the south drive on roads named for generals who fought to keep them in bondage. They must, in public schools, pledge allegiance to a flag which was carried by men who died for the right to own them. The Confederate flag is undoubtedly a part of American history, but preservation in museums and history books is a far cry from celebration in state government. Don’t take down the Confederate flag because it will prevent acts of violence. Take down the Confederate flag because it commemorates one.  

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