Idolizing Genocide: Why the SC Shooter’s Patches Matter
As the United States press continues to ponder the “causes” of the hateful terrorist shooting in the Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, an increasing amount of media coverage attempts to explain away Dylann Roof’s psychopathy with a “misunderstood” personality and “mental illness.” Roof’s supposed “state of mind” could not be clearer, however, as along with the discovery of his frightfully bigoted manifesto, Roof has been portrayed proudly wearing the flags of Rhodesia and Apartheid South Africa on his jacket, as well as recreationally waving the Confederate flag. Others may pretend not to know what these flags symbolize, but we do:
The Rhodesian flag, deceptively clad in the Zimbabwean coat of arms, represents the Republic of Rhodesia: Zimbabwe’s avowedly racist predecessor. The Republic was named after British magnate and politician Cecil Rhodes, who, as an avid supporter of colonialism, helped implement a racially-based caste system in the area, defined by its aspirations to maintain white political power while Rhodesia’s majority black population worked as peasants. The Republic was later inherited by Ian Smith, who declared it to be a “White Republic” in 1964, hiring mercenaries to fight against African “terrorists” like those members of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army. Though it’s been 35 years since the destruction of Rhodesia, white supremacists still see the viciously racist Rhodesian government as a victory for their race, and attribute what they see as the “downfall” of Zimbabwe – ruled by Mugabe since 1979 – as proof that whites are superior rulers.
The Apartheid flag, colored with the flags of South Africa’s colonialist invaders, is designed to reflect the country’s supposed “historical roots” as a white-ruled European colony. The Apartheid, which officially began in 1948, is and was the official term for systematic racial segregation in South Africa; the word encapsulating a myriad of violent, chauvinistic practices imposed on the majority black population. By law, interracial marriage was prohibited, each citizen had to be separated into race “classes,” people of color were forced to carry identification, and the government was free to murder, torture, and imprison a large majority of their citizens.
This horrific system, which lasted for the better part of 50 years, was finally dismantled in the 1990s. For white supremacists, however, the memory of the Apartheid is alive and well; supremacists often using South Africa as a modern-day example of “white genocide” taking place post-Apartheid.
Now, the Confederate Flag, or the “Stars and Bars” – representative of America’s Confederate army – continues to survive as a symbol of the Confederate cause: the rightful subjugation of African-Americans and the perpetuation of slavery. Though the flag always represented this shameful goal, it gained traction in 1948 when the segregationist Dixiecrat party adopted it as a symbol of resistance against the federal government. Since then, the flag has been widely adopted as a beacon of racial discrimination, used by various racist hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Unfortunately, the Confederate flag continues to wave uncontested in five states – Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Florida, and Georgia – and is even protected by law in states such as South Carolina and Louisiana. As long as this hateful flag remains at full mast, the United States, along with the rest of the world, will constantly be reminded of its conviction.