Yesterday in South Carolina, the State Senate voted 37 to 4 to remove the Confederate Battle Flag from the Capitol, a vote that would have been unheard of a month ago. (It's possible that the flag might be gone by the end of the week, though as this is South Carolina, I'm not holding my breath.)
But since there was a horrific slaughter of innocents by a white supremacist, it's opened up eyes to an untenable situation. So as the very least that can be done, something that should have happened decades ago, is seemingly going to happen while it's still a story.
Good on South Carolina. But before you get in the weeds of what I think and why I'm right or wrong, two things.
1) To those who want to talk Tradition... the Confederate Battle Flag didn't fly over the capital until 1961 -- aka, when Dr. Martin Luther King and the Freedom Riders started showing signs of the uppity. So this whole notion of the flag not meaning what it plainly means can be disposed of for the nonsense that it is.
2) You don't get to really have an opinion on whether black folks think this flag is meant to intimidate, without, well, being a member of that group.
Rather, I want to talk about the quickness of the whole situation.
What's happened here is simple: the flag issue has gone viral in an era of social media, which means it has gone to a fast track of public policy and discussion. This speed is just the way things work now, at least in the case when wildly fragmented public attention coalesces around an issue.
It may be that our media situation, with everyone getting their news from a channel of their own choosing, is going to be too fragmented for this to be anything but a rare occurrence. There isn't an avalanche of stories that have reached this kind of crescendo, and that's not really how our media works now. I could rattle off a dozen pet issues that I'd like to see get this kind of focus, but since nearly all of them don't have a clear, simple and obvious resolution -- the removal of a flag that's so obviously the totem for racists, it doubles for the Nazi flag among European twinkies who are not legally permitted to get their hands on the old swastika...
Well, they won't. This is just a perfect storm of shocking violence, sympathetic victims who then went the extra mile to forgive the assailant, widespread public disgust and a simple to understand choice that, seemingly, few under the age of 35 thinks is even a question.
There are some people in my world who see this issue, and the move to put a woman on U.S. money that people actually use, and the gays marrying and the poors getting healthcare, as signs that All Heritage Is Lost, or that These Be The End Times. (I'm related to some regrettable people.) What's actually true is that the technology has changed the way the world works, but only in rare circumstances. For the most part, business and policies will continue to go the way they've always gone; to the favor of the moneyed supporters that pay attention and indulgence beyond the election cycle.
But when there's something obviously wrong, and dumb, and it hurts people who have been hurt for, well, no good reason at all?
We will act, on dozens of hardware platforms, in ways that will multiply themselves many times over, with speed and surety of purpose that has never been seen in this country before.
It just won't happen very often.
Back to your regularly scheduled blog...