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Words can’t express the outrage over the actions of Dylan Storm Roof killing nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

President Obama tried to convey his sorrow, the sorrow of his family and of the nation saying, “I spoke with...leaders of Charleston to express our deep sorrow over the senseless murders that took place last night...And to say our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families, and their community doesn’t say enough to convey the heartache and the sadness and the anger that we feel.”

Some of the anger is being directed at the Confederate Flag which is still flown, even at this moment, on the grounds of Columbia, South Carolina, the state capitol. Just for the record, after Roof’s hate-inspired massacre, our U.S. flag and South Carolina’s palmetto flag flew at half-staff. However, a third flag, within view of the State House — a Confederate one — flew, according to reports, “as high and as proud as ever, flapping in the breeze on a sunny day.”

For 300 years, about 12 generations before the Civil War, and for years afterwards, slavery was the official, state-sanctioned social/political structure in South Carolina. In the six generations since the end of the Civil War, many of those who now live in the former Confederacy, still cling to the historic importance of the flags which once represented their “unrecognized, renegade country.”

Roof reveres that flag. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, said responsibility for the violence lay solely with shooter Roof. “It’s him…not the flag,”

Those who are in sympathy with the cause of the Confederacy are able to articulate ethical, moral, legal, historic and patriotic reasons why that flag should continue to be seen on public grounds. 450 years after the inception of slavery in our country we are still unable to politically get rid of a symbol which now glorifies that despicable period of our nation’s history.

In contrast, the symbols, flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans and forms of greeting, of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi Party), which controlled Germany for about 12 years, have been outlawed by the German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch section 86a). This “denazification” efforts followed the fall of the Third Reich.

What’s wrong with our political system?

America’s largest and most influential LGBT organizations have all released statements about the shooting, which is being investigated by federal authorities as a hate crime.

There are really no words. We grieve for the families and for our country. We know our nation cannot go on like this and yet, here we are. Will enough ever be enough? Until we are willing to address race and entrenched racism in this country, the headlines will continue.

Statement from National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell:

"There are moments when a headline is too much to comprehend. This is such a moment. The nightmare shooting and murder in Charleston of nine black African American parishioners in a hate-fueled racially motivated attack leaves us bereft and sick. There are really no words. We grieve for the families and for our country. We know our nation cannot go on like this and yet, here we are. Will enough ever be enough? Until we are willing to address race and entrenched racism in this country, the headlines will continue."

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Statement from Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin:

"Today we are once again tragically reminded of the serious and widespread problem we face as a nation with violent, hate-motivated crimes — a problem which we as a nation must commit to addressing. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the communities impacted by this horrific and senseless tragedy in Charleston seemingly targeted because of their race. As this heinous crime reverberates across the entire country, we stand united with allies and friends nationwide to end the cycle of violence motivated by hatred."

Statement from National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey:

"It is with a heavy heart that we join in mourning those killed in last night's tragic shooting at a Charleston historically Black church. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the murder victims and the entire community of Charleston.

“This massacre is frighteningly reminiscent of the tragedies of another era taking place in churches in the South. While many would like to think that our nation has eliminated racism and discrimination, this appalling act of hate shows that we have not. As this violent epidemic, the targeting and killing of Black people, continues with no end in sight — it becomes ever more clear that it is everyone's responsibility to end all forms of racism and discrimination. No one, absolutely no one, should ever fear for their lives when stepping out of their homes, walking down the street in their own neighborhood, or attending a prayer services in their place of worship.

“We thank the U.S. Justice Department for providing support in the investigation of this national tragedy. The perpetrator of this horrific act must be brought to justice and we must all work harder to create a society free from murder, violence and hate crimes."

Statement from Pride at Work Executive Director Jerame Davis:

"The horrendous crime that took the lives of nine African-Americans at the Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina yesterday is heart wrenching. In moments like these, words often fail, but we must speak out when senseless, racist violence takes innocent lives. Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families.

“There is no justice that will bring back these nine people nor salve the grief of the surviving family members. The racist motivation of this murderer is another stark reminder that we must speak up and out to declare that #BlackLivesMatter. We will not rest until every corner of our country has heard that message and takes it to heart.

“It is disgusting and deplorable that some are painting this act of hatred as anything other than racially motivated. The Emmanuel AME church is a symbol of black liberation and the killer was explicit about his motivation - even going so far as to tell a survivor he spared her so she could tell others what happened. Those who try to paint this as anti-Christian violence are deplorably engaging in whitewashing the truth of the matter to perpetuate a false narrative.

“The violence, the racism, and the denial all must end. We are better than this."

What flag is Dylan Storm Roof saluting when he hears, “Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?”


Carl Matthes