New Jersey Governor and presidential candidate Chris Christie, hewing close to his party’s line on the Charleston atrocity:
“Laws can’t change this. Only the goodwill and the love of the American people can let those folks know that that act was unacceptable, disgraceful, and that we need to do more to show that we love each other.”
From Rand Paul:
“There’s a sickness in our country, but it’s not going to be solved by our government.”
“We ought not to start immediately rushing to policy prescriptions or engaging in the blame game.”
No, oppressive laws or “policy prescriptions” from an overreaching “socialist” government can never change anything.
Of course, there was that tiny matter of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
And the Supreme Court, those “big government” meddlers, deciding in Brown vs. Board of Education (1954) to ban segregation in public schools.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964. The 24th Amendment’s abolition of the poll tax in the same year.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965.
And then the autocratic actions by evil “big government” presidents:
Truman’s executive order to integrate the Armed Forces in 1948.
Eisenhower sending troops to Little Rock to protect Central High’s African American students in 1957.
Kennedy sending troops to Mississippi to ensure James Meredith’s state university enrollment in 1963.
Johnson’s executive order for affirmative action in 1965.
The Supreme Court at it again in Loving vs. Virginia (1967), establishing the right to interracial marriage, which was then banned in 17 states, all of them in the South. The states claimed their “racial purity” laws were deeply embedded in tradition and endorsed by God.
And so on, the heavy hand of the dreaded “big government” intruding into both the private and public prejudices of people deeply rooted in the “traditions” they were struggling to uphold.
But all these were mere trifles, of course. We all know government can never provide solutions to our problems, because government is itself the problem. (President Reagan told us so.) Only the people can effect change.
Wait—we are a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people?”
Just where on earth did that come from? (Lincoln, in case you’re hazy, in another “big government” overreach known as The Gettysburg Address.)
Yes, we have met the government, and it is us, only us…
One more thing government could do, which will not bring those nine lives back in Charleston and will not soon change the minds and hearts of millions of racists harboring their dark fantasies across this country, but which will put government firmly and powerfully—because symbols are powerful—on the side of the United States of America and not the slave-holding Confederate states of 1861:
Ban the flying of Confederate flags from any government institution.
Just ban it, now. Send a powerful symbolic message.
It’s the least we, the people comprising our government, could do in solidarity with the mourners of Charleston.
Rotating banner photos at top of page courtesy of Elizabeth Haslam, some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing, see more at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lizhaslam/