I’m posting my op-ed from the Moscow-Pullman Daily News today as the short version of a longer analysis I’ll write later. Takeaway: Reinforcing social paradigms from authorities (as predicted by the Principle of Reinforcement) define what the empathy-disordered in a society will think, since they lack core integrity. Symbols — especially endorsed symbols — matter.
Joy Cometh in the Morning Chuck Pezeshki, Reality-Based Lefty June 26, 2015
It was with tremendous surprise that I greeted the news that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott announced support for lowering the Confederate Flag in front of the South Carolina State Capitol building Wednesday morning. Some people have criticized the potential meaninglessness of the gesture in removing the flag in the wake of the horrific Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting, that took nine lives a week ago Wednesday.
But it’s not just symbolic. It’s a huge step toward correcting a psychopathic bullying culture that has institutionalized racism across our country. Some might question the above statement. Here’s how it works. Displaying the Confederate Flag underwent a resurgence of popularity in the early ‘60s in the South, in direct opposition to the Civil Rights movement and desegregation. And while it’s questionable whether every white guy on the street knows exactly what the Stars and Bars stands for – there’s a great book by Tony Hurwitz called “A Confederate in the Attic” that proves that – there’s no question that the Southern Racist Intelligentsia know exactly what it stands for. And while I haven’t done a survey, I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of African-Americans knows what it stands for as well.
The long-standing position of the Southern Racist Intelligentsia is to psychopathically deny the intent and value of the flag. They say it stands as a testament to a lost, yet noble cause. They point to some bizarre construction of a noble heritage. You can almost hear the music from the movie, “Gone With the Wind” in the background. It’s all a nonsense myth, of course. But it’s devious, constant abuse. As Jon Stewart from The Daily Show noted after the killing, black people have to see the flag, and drive on highways named for Confederate Generals all the time.
It’s the best kind of abuse; the kind where the target knows exactly who wants to get them, while all the other folks (mostly white folks) get to go on about their business and ignore the crime in front of them. It would be one thing if those were the only people in the mix – the Southern Racist Intelligentsia and the African-Americans. Over time, the African-American community would rise above, and the abuse wouldn’t affect them.
But enter Stage Left – the low level, empathy-disordered who actually believe this stuff. They’re poorly integrally defined, which means they’re empty on the inside, except for a profound sense of victimhood and blaming. And they absorb all the constant positive reinforcement for hating African-Americans from the bombardment of the messages from the Southern Racist Intelligentsia. They’re mentally ill, all right. But it’s more useful to think about them as being the mash in a whiskey still, fermenting their hate. And as they boil away, exacerbated by hate radio, secret clubs that give them distorted meaning, and the chronic grinding of poverty that we’ve grown to accept in America, one drop comes out the top.
And that one drop of poison is Dylann Roof. That’s how you get a shooting of an 87 year old grandmother reading Bible verses, along with eight others, in an historic church. It’s a system effect.
There are other big picture issues to consider, such as gun control, or how we perceive and develop our society. Psychology Today even had an article saying that the shootings were the result of anti-intellectualism in our society. All this may be true. But an enormous first step is the calling for removal of the directly racist symbols of the Confederacy. It’s time to realize that the Myth of the South was just that. We need to dismantle the psychopathic bullying infrastructure, whose construction continues today. And maybe we can take one step forward toward dismantling racist attitudes across our country. As Psalm 30:5 so eloquently said: weeping may come at night. But joy cometh in the morning.