|A white supremacist burning the American flag?|
There are times when an expatriate says to himself, "maybe I've been away too long". This is one of those times.
The Charleston massacre shocked me and horrified me, but unfortunately it didn't surprise me... Billy Holiday's classic, "Strange Fruit" is as valid today as the day it was written. Racism is part of America's DNA and will be as long as there is system/culture that divides humanity into winners and losers holds "losers" in contempt and though marketing, celebrity worship and mainstream media makes most people feel deep down like losers.
In such a system feeling superior to someone, anyone, somehow, is an irreplaceable, psychological crutch. And po' whites need that crutch more than anyone. A person of color that is struggling to stay afloat can feel that her color is holding her back and she is probably right, but "po' white trash", descended many of them from the settlers of pre-revolutionary, colonial times, white, Anglo-saxon, Protestansts of literally Mayflower vintage; those creatures that Cris Rock describes as "Broke-ass mothafuckas, livin in trailer homes, eating mayonnaise sandwiches, fuckin' their sista, listening to John Melloncamp records!" have no such "excuse", they have to take their failure, their loser-hood straight in the vein. "Even" black people hold them in contempt.
So, Roof's murdering a group of peaceable African-Americans gathered for Bible study doesn't surprise me, but seeing a photo of such a white supremacist burning an American flag does surprise me.
Talk about cognitive dissonance: I am of the 1968/Vietnam generation and this image of Dylann Storm Roof burning the American flag is one that I find very striking. Something very important has changed.
Way back in the 1960s, rednecks like Roof made up a large percentage of the draftees that were sent off to fight that war and they were the ones who attacked the middle class boys who were the ones with student deferments, who were the ones that burned the American flag and their draft cards back then as a protest in demonstrations against the war.
In fact, the traditional backbone of the US Army: America's military "caste," has always been white Scotch-Irish southerners, some aristocrats, most of them poor.
What can this burning the symbol of America's military power by one of their number mean?
Reading about him it is obvious that he has had a life and upbringing that is identical to millions of other poor, white, southern boys... This one went around the bend.
Here, I have to quote myself on Dylann Roof, as I believe that, precisely because he is crazy, he is a peek into the darker areas of an important part of the American subconscious:
They live in their dream world and perhaps their dream world is not so different from ours, differing mostly in that we only visit that world in our sleep or under the influence of drugs and they spend their tortured lives inhabiting it. Their life is a “daymare,” so to speak. Perhaps we could learn about our own hidden darkness by studying his visible darkness.