“Their Actions Were Motivated by Racial Hatred”

It was no accident that just a couple of weeks after the horrific murders committed by Dylann Roof in Charleston, a group of young whites drove up to the house of a black family that was celebrating a birthday with weapons and Confederate battle flags. Arrests were made and earlier today two of the individuals involved received lengthy prison terms.

For more on this story click here, here, and here.

Contrary to what others will say, the Confederate battle flag was not misused or radically re-interpreted for the purposes of intimidating and/or threatening an African-American family. This incident connects the flag as a symbol of racial hate through the civil rights movement, Jim Crow and even the war itself.

In addition to the brief quote above in the title space, the judge went on to say the following: “If you drive around town with a Confederate flag, yelling the ‘N’ word, you know how it’s going to be interpreted.” It doesn’t get any clearer than that people.

35 thoughts on ““Their Actions Were Motivated by Racial Hatred”

    1. chancery

      I couldn’t find a comment section at any of the three links posted by Kevin. To which of those links were you referring?

      Reply
  1. Forester

    Well, I also think context matters. This article could be about literally any flag. Let’s use Britain for example.

    The Union Jack has been used for decades to offend and harass people from India and other countries. It’s all about the context. The flag has been controversial before, and Brexit has made it problematic again. The Union Jack would not have to be misused or radically re-interpreted for the purposes of intimidating and/or threatening an immigrant family in the UK. Look at any pro-Brexit rally — hundreds of Union Jacks fly alongside “BREXIT NOW,” “LEAVE” and “I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK.” Some people DO find it offensive and have even removed the flag from shops.

    Yet, we don’t automatically assume that anyone displaying that flag is a racist. So why is the CBF so different?

    Reply
      1. Forester

        Yes, I agree that context has been established in this particular incident, that much is obvious. But you’re implying that this incident is indicative of the flag’s overall meaning. Racism is one thread in that tapestry, but not the whole of it.

        To paraphrase Shelby Foote, those who say racism has nothing to do with it are as wrong as those who say racism has everything to do with it.

        Yes, the flag was certainly racist in the Civil Rights movement. But I don’t agree with your stopping the clock there — the flag was used throughout the ’70s and ’80s and watered down to a de-facto emblem of a geographical region (Skynrd, Alabama, the Dukes of Hazzard, a GI Joe character, kitschy souvineers, ect). It has evolved (or devolved) since the Civil Rights Movement, and lost most of it’s original meanings.

        I see this event as a horrible act of abuse and I’m glad the men were prosecuted. But I also recognize that this could have been any hate-monger, in any place, with any flag. This could have been a Muslim family and a British flag. The real problem is hate itself, which is a universal evil.

        Personally, I just avoid flags entirely except for Old Glory. They mean something different to every person and you can never reliably know who means what ….

        Reply
        1. Kevin Levin Post author

          But you’re implying that this incident is indicative of the flag’s overall meaning. Racism is one thread in that tapestry, but not the whole of it.

          It is central to its history.

          But I also recognize that this could have been any hate-monger, in any place, with any flag.

          I fail to see how this is relevant to this particular situation.

          Reply
  2. David McCallister

    Kevin, be fair- there were US flags, too. Watch the video. Do not degrade the discourse by false light defamation. You lose all credibility by your obvious continous bias and procrustian bed of Confederophobia. These criminals had their day in Court and were convicted- just like Dylann Roof. Do not blame an inanimate object for human criminality. Equal symbol rights.

    Reply
    1. Forester

      “Confederophobia?” I was on board with you, until you said THAT. Now I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. >_<

      Accusations of bias and appropriating terms like "equal rights" do not help anyone. You only make yourself (and the South, by extension) look quite silly. This is why we can't have nice things ….

      Reply
    2. Kevin Levin Post author

      My bias is the clarity that comes with understanding how the history of the Confederate battle flag has been used over the past 150 years. I didn’t blame an “inanimate object” for anything. It is the way in which it is used, which is not, in any way, accidental

      Reply
      1. Forester

        Which is a perfectly valid opinion, and I partially agree with you.

        Some comment-leavers can’t handle that, however. They have to be like Preston Brooks beating Charles Sumner with his cane: they always have to be right, and they’re ALWAYS on the attack.

        Reply
    3. Andy Hall

      As others have suggested, context means everything. Here’s some additional context you may not be aware of.

      1. According to prosecutors, these jackasses were driving around with flags and yelling racial slurs at people over two days, in two different counties. They were prosecuted for the incident in Douglas County because that one that was caught on video, but their actions there were not isolated, or transitory. They were planned and deliberate.

      2. These jackasses were part of a group calling itself “Respect the Flag,” and it wasn’t Old Glory they were referring to.. They were part of a much larger effort, across the South, to show support for the Confederate flag in the aftermath of the Charleston shootings with truck rallies and convoys. Again, not a bunch of dumbass yahoos* running around on their own — this was planned and deliberate.

      * OK, I’ll grant you “dumbass yahoos.” But you get my point.

      Reply
      1. Kevin Levin Post author

        Hi Andy,

        Thanks for the additional information. Their “support for the Confederate flag” reinforced its racial meaning. They apparently couldn’t resist.

        Reply
  3. Annette Jackson

    Flaggers drove through my town more than once, a town well known to them as being over 70% African-American. What was the point of that other than being confrontational? In the past few months it is not just the south being stupid, as witness 25 or more bomb threats made just today on Jewish centers nationwide. Attacks on our media coming from the highest level of government is not setting the kind of example we need.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      Flaggers drove through my town more than once, a town well known to them as being over 70% African-American.

      The Confederate battle flag has a long history of use as a symbol of white supremacy. The situation you describe is not unusual at all.

      Reply
  4. Matt McKeon

    Its the equivalent of the Orange men marching through Catholic neighborhoods on Battle of the Boyne day.

    Those people complain when the security forces want to shift the routes. Its heritage, you know!

    Reply
  5. Connie Chastain

    You and your commenters are selectively “accepting” your “facts” about this case. Even if the defendants did what is claimed (and some of it is extremely doubtful), they should get six months in jail, tops. These long prison sentences are persecution. There are murderers who get lesser sentences.

    The SPLC’s involvement is deeply suspicious. How much did they coach and manipulate the plaintiffs? How much was the Georgia already-questionable “gang terrorist” law manipulated to apply to this incident? What the SPLC is doing is setting a precedent so it can help local officials prosecute/persecute innocent heritage activists for supporting heritage via the misapplication of some obscure local law.

    How happy would it make you for Susan Hathaway to be railroaded into a 20 year prison sentence on trumped up charges?

    Oh, one other thing. Take everything you read about this in the fake-news media with a huge grain of salt. You’re likely being lied to.

    Reply
  6. Shoshana Bee

    I have often said that one has not lived the full spectrum of the human experience until you have endured ‘hate on sight’. I have a strange generic look that appeals to what I call ‘then enemy of the moment’. In Israel, they thought I was Palestinian. In Syria, I looked Jewish. Crossing on the edge of the ghetto, I looked to be the enemy Mexican. On the Rez, not quite Indian. Just outside the Rez, too Indian. In Starbuck’s, I just looked foreign. It makes one twitchy, after a while. When I see a truck approaching adorned with the CBF, I get small, and I don’t wait around to see if it’s just a show of ‘heritage’. I can only imagine what my brothers, the African-Americans must think when they see that rag a-comin’.

    Reply
  7. tkamaoa

    This is backwoods Southern justice–a la “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.” These two are collateral-damage scapegoats punished to reinforce the lessons not learned from the South Carolina shooting–a senseless tragedy, the verdict of which employed justice at its finest: the death penalty for Dylann Roof. What possible lesson will these two local yokels learn from their combined 35 years in the prison system? Exactly–more hatred, more racism, more mob mentality, more violence, more injustice, more cruelty, more segregation, more evil. . . . The pure senselessness of this entire case is cast in an even uglier light: verdicts cloaked in local color dialect with just enough legalese tossed in as a feeble attempt to justify its injustice. This entire mountain of a molehill amounts to what? A long joyride taken by extremists who foolishly used a symbol of a shameful chasm in our nation’s history to disrupt an innocent child’s birthday celebration to get their kicks and let off proverbial steam. Yes, controversial, harassing and threatening behavior. And, yes, they deserve punishment, but the punishment should fit the crime. This duo would regret, and possibly forever change, their actions (and lighten taxpayers’ burden of supporting them for the next 3+ decades) by serving sentences of community service as organizers of needy children’s birthday parties every weekend for the next 35 years. Adding them to the FBI, CIA and Department of Homeland Security’s watch list of domestic terrorists wouldn’t be unjust. If these perpetrators of prejudice fail to meet strict guidelines of their punishment, throw the book at them–then! Our justice system should not be an instrument used to make examples of these idiots in order to try and convince other idiots to change. Courts nor Congress can legislate morality! Yet, that is exactly what this verdict attempts to accomplish. It’s a classic exercise in futility. With mobs of protesters exercising their freedom of speech by burning the very flag that stood in this Georgia courtroom yesterday, this case and its verdict prove to be a mockery of the values for which tens of thousands of defenders of our freedom of speech have died. And brave men and women are still dying to defend that freedom as of this moment. The scales of justice continue to tip. The blindfolds continue to obscure. Sure-fire grounds for what will ultimately be a SCOTUS appeal now lurk in the shadows of the halls of Georgia justice.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      What possible lesson will these two local yokels learn from their combined 35 years in the prison system? Exactly–more hatred, more racism, more mob mentality, more violence, more injustice, more cruelty, more segregation, more evil. . . .

      The one defendant appeared to be remorseful. Let’s keep in mind that they were not convicted for flying the Confederate flag, but for violating the state’s According to one of the articles: “Norton will be sentenced on one count of violating the street gang act and one count of making terroristic threats. Torres will be sentenced on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of terroristic threats and one count of violating the street gang act. The aggravated assault charges carry up to 20 years for each count and the street gang act carries between five and 20 years, said Emadi. A terroristic threat conviction is punishable by up to five years in prison.”

      Reply
  8. Andy Hall

    Back in the summer and fall of 2015, the heritage folks were tripping all over each other on social media to brag about the dozens of rallies and truck convoys held across the South to express support for the Confederate flag.

    These “Respect the Flag” clowns were very much part of that effort; the thing that sets them apart is that they carried it a few steps father than others did. It’s a difference of degree, not of kind.

    Reply
  9. Neil R. Hamilton

    People MUST realize, that there are consequences for their own actions. It’s easy to say “I’m sorry” when one is caught exercising those actions. It is much harder to think upon what results may come from those actions before putting them into play.

    Maybe this is the lesson that needs to be taken from these harsh sentences. Maybe others will think long and hard before jumping into their trucks and cars to have a bit of fun or express supposed outrage over a perceived point of pride.

    There are always consequences…

    Neil

    Reply
  10. bob ruth

    I have a suggestion for all of these so-called flaggers:

    Why not take your campaign to some of our Northern communities? I’m sure you would receive a warm embrace from residents of Harlem and the inner city neighborhoods of Detroit and Atlanta. Or how about Watts in LA. or Compton, CA?

    Being patriotic and courageous Southerners, you could march (By this, I mean: walk – not ride in cars – so you can’t beat a hasty retreat) unarmed through these streets with your Confederate battle flags proudly flapping the in breeze.

    Reply
    1. David McCallister

      Bob, the problem is, of course, that the people of the North, being mislead by their corrupt leaders, did not leave the beaten and destroyed South alone after the War- they embarked on a vicious campaign of revenge. And they haven’t let us alone since. No need to go to them. Harlem? Atlanta (Yankee occupied Atlanta)? LA? Why bother? What we, and most folks around the world, want is for the outsiders to leave us alone- Southerners have no intention of going to their homes to cause trouble. Just as in 1861- the South wanted to be left alone- it was the North which trespassed, invaded and blockaded illegally and unconstitutionally, and committing war crimes.
      When will the war crimes of Lincoln, Sherman, Sheridan, et al be prosecuted?

      Reply
      1. Kevin Levin Post author

        Oh brother.

        When will the war crimes of Lincoln, Sherman, Sheridan, et al be prosecuted?

        I love it when people claim to be victims 150 years later. LOL

        Reply
        1. Annette Jackson

          Sad that this perpetual victimhood continues. I used to follow Civil War sites on Facebook until it seemed that the pro-Confederate posters always claimed that none of their ancestors had ever owned an enslaved person. Never. Not a single one. And claimed that since they did not they never derived a benefit from the system.

          Reply
        2. David McCallister

          Kevin, Maybe you’ve never been to a city council or county commission meeting where African-Americans get up to say how offended they are by offenses from 150 years ago. It moves them to tears. I hope you wouldn’t be laughing then. I never do. You apparently have no empathy or understanding for cultures which have long memories. Sad that you “love it” when people feel hurt. If you educated instead of indoctrinated, maybe there would be less of that pain, and more understanding and forgiveness. You are just pushing away the Table of Brotherhood.
          Why? I can guess. And I’m not LOL.
          Oh brother.

          Reply
          1. Kevin Levin Post author

            I have no idea where this nonsense is coming from, but it stops right here. This will be your final comment on this post and if your insults continue you will be banned from commenting for good. That is all.

            Reply
      2. Msb

        I can’t imagine why the Union, having destroyed slavery, should have let the defeated Confederates recreate slavery under another name. The South wanted to be left alone? Google the Fugitive Slave Law.

        Reply
  11. craniumlogos

    The judge was right, but his sentence too harsh. A year in jail would have taught them the same thing. 35 years combined starts to sound like something out of Les Miserables.

    Reply

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