Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

The horrific and terroristic murder of 9 black Americans in Charlestown, South Carolina,  while they worshiped at one of the oldest African-American congregations in the United States has become the main news story of the week, rightfully. The suspect, who is in custody, is alleged to have admitted that he came to the church “to kill black people” and to “start another civil war” about race. There’s no question in my mind given the accused killer’s sentiments that this was a premeditated and racially motivated attack.

And what are we to make of the Confederate flag? The question arises naturally because South Carolina still flies the battle colors of the Confederacy on government grounds.  Ta-Nehisi Coates makes a compelling case that the Charlestown massacre cannot be separated from the legacy and ideas represented in the flag: “The flag that [the alleged killer] embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition to this act—it endorses it.”

Coates is certainly no conservative and I doubt he and I would find much agreement elsewhere on political or social issues. But on the issue of the Confederate flag, Coates isn’t being a liberal: He’s just being an American. Read more.