MSNBC anchor Alex Wagner brought on two guests, Thursday, to broaden the tragic shooting in South Carolina to include a uniquely American culture. Wagner mentioned the fact that the state still flies the Confederate flag and University of Connecticut professor Jelani Cobb retorted, "If we could isolate this to the Confederate flag, we would be in good condition."
He added, however, "Slavery and Jim Crow and lynching, those things happened under the American flag. You know, after the Confederacy had been vanquished or before the Confederacy had come into existence. So, this is something that is deeply ingrained in the country's national history."
Apparently, viewing this shooting as simply the hateful work of one person "disrespects the legacy of people who have suffered under these circumstances since the foundation of this country."
Now anchor Wagner and First Look Media editor Eric Bates connected the shooting to the Confederate flag and made the mass killing a "political failure":
ALEX WAGNER: But for some people, the fact that the State House was flying the Confederate flag was a reminder of the forces at odds with one another in the State of South Carolina.
FIRST LOOK MEDIA EXECUTIVE EDITOR ERIC BATES: It's deeply ingrained in portions of the Deep South and you talk to many white southerners they see it as divorced from history, they don't see it as meaning that and so, it's very complicated to get through to them how it does mean that, and how it is a continuing symbol of that era that persists to this day, but I think both the issue of the Confederate flag and of gun violence come back to the broader you’re making, which is this is political failure. The American people overwhelmingly agree, particularly after Newtown, that there needs to be more gun control, that we need to get guns out of the hands – they're just too pervasive. There’s one gun for every American practically. I think it's something like 90% support that and yet, Congress has failed to act. So, this isn't a case where we failed to change people's minds or people don’t understand the root cause of the problem. People understand it very well, but the forces that are allied to prevent any meaningful change from happening control the upper hand.
A transcript of the exchange with Jelani Cobb is below:
ALEX WAGNER: There are two sort of parallel problems, there's the issue of gun safety and gun safety reform, for which there is a legislative solution, whether or not Congress decides to pursue it. And then there is the divide among the American people that exists perhaps just under the surface, which is a divide based on color. I mean, today a former Ole Miss student pled guilty to a charge connected to a noose left on a statue on campus. I mean, the shooting of worshipers and pastors, pastor, pastors, reverends, at a black church, the leaving of nooses on statues. I mean, it sounds and feels like 50, 60 years ago.
JELANI COBB (University of Connecticut): Except that it's deeply implicated in the present. These things have never ceased to exist. Here's the difficult thing to think about, right? That if we could isolate this to the Confederate flag, we would be in good condition. Slavery and Jim Crow and lynching, those things happened under the American flag. You know, after the Confederacy had been vanquished or before the Confederacy had come into existence. So, this is something that is deeply ingrained in the country's national history, and not easily uprooted. And so when we look at something like this horror that happened today, and try to say this is an isolated thing, or this is just one hateful person, what we actually do is disrespect the legacy of people who have suffered under these circumstances since the foundation of this country.