Recent events in South Carolina can only be described as remarkable. Not the shooting, of course. Evils of that sort, sadly, are far too common these days, whether perpetrated by religious fanatics or twisted individuals. What stands out is how the people of South Carolina have responded. It has been nothing less than inspiring. It has also reveled a lot about the sanctimonious folk in the North, especially in the city of my birth, New York, where I still live.
Initially there was the standard and predictable New York reaction to the shootings. Lips were pursed and references were made to the fundamental racism of the South. The Confederate flag in front to the state house was offered as “proof.” To be fair, people were open minded about my protestations that the flag has other meanings, especially to the people of the South. But most held to their original opinion. It is kind of weak, don’t you think, that folks can only think of a flag when faced with a great evil. It looked especially weak when the churches of the state, and especially of the City of Charleston, both white and black, offered the Christian answer to evil: Love. And that response was apparent in every report form the state, clear in everyone’s actions and demeanor. Some of the northern critics moved off center. Others persisted in their original opinions, effectively dismissed the remarkable goings on in South Carolina. For these folks, they were just too inconvenient.
Faced with their ridiculous response, I could only think “everyone likes to feel superior.” Whites have enjoyed that feeling over blacks. In more recent years, blacks have felt that way over whites. One nationality or religion has almost always felt that way over another. it is as old as time, a part of human nature, I suppose. For some, it seems, the need is to feel morally superior, and it is a great enough need to ignore all the facts before one’s eyes. It is sad how thoroughly the worst aspects of Puritanism have survived, even, perhaps especially, among those who profess a purely secular viewpoint.