It WILL take more than goodwill, Will. But goodwill is a prerequisite

There are those who refuse to participate in celebrating the spirit of unity over bringing down the Confederate flag. One of those, unfortunately, is my former colleague Will Moredock:

It will take more than goodwill to heal this state

After the Flag


“To use Gov. Nikki Haley’s words, it truly is a great day in South Carolina” — that was the text message that awakened me at 7:15 Thursday morning from my cell phone by the bedside. It was followed immediately by other messages from friends near and far who wanted to check in and see what I had to say about the end of the Confederate flag debate and — let us hope — the end of an era.

In the days after the lowering of the Confederate flag in front of the Statehouse in Columbia, much will be written and said about the courage of Gov. Haley and the Republican General Assembly in taking that measure, to which I say, “Bullshit!”

Why did it take the killing of nine good people by a Confederate flag-waving bigot at Emanuel AME Church to open the eyes of these GOPers to what millions of South Carolinians and Americans have known for generations?…

Yes, it will take more than goodwill for our state to progress.

But the thing is, goodwill is a necessary ingredient.

And celebrating when people who have long disagreed with you decide to agree — rather than kicking them — is kind of an obvious first step.

21 thoughts on “It WILL take more than goodwill, Will. But goodwill is a prerequisite

  1. David Carlton

    Through this affair I’ve long been bothered by people I’ve basically agreed with who can’t seem to let go of their rancor. Moredock is right: Haley and the Republicans could have moved on this a long time ago, and didn’t, for reasons having to do both with political calculation and basic blindness toward the concerns of those not part of their constituency. But–as seen from a distance, TBS–the trauma of Emanuel succeeded both in breaking an obdurate logjam and opening lines of communication that had never been used before. Furthermore, I agree very much with him about the white working-class South Carolinians who clung to the flag in the fact of an increasingly unstable world (I grew up back of a cotton mill, BTW, and have spent my scholarly career studying industrialization). The issues that have divided white and black South Carolinians have for too long distracted them from paying attention to their common needs. Republicans have long relied heavily on ethnocultural politics to cement their dominance, identifying with such symbols of white southern culture as the Confederacy, white evangelical religiosity, and the like. In the wake of Emanuel, though, they ran up against the limits of that strategy. The symbols of the Confederacy increasingly divide not only white and black southerners, but divide white southerners as well. And evangelical religiosity has never been a “white” thing, but in this case brought all South Carolinians together in community. There will continue to be partisan divisions, of course (and unlike you, I actually think parties are good things, for they give people clear alternatives to choose), but South Carolinians are all bound together, and for this moment, at least (and for the future, one hopes) they actually recognize that.

  2. Karen Pearson

    Might it be that we’ve had enough recorded incidents lately of police beating/shooting/killing black folks for little or no reason to show some folks that there might be a grain of truth behind African-Americans’ claims of persecution? A little better understanding of “white privilege?”

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Sandra Bland was pulled over for failing to signal a lane change, and it went downhill from there, ending in her death. I do not believe I would have been pulled over for such a thing, or asked to step out of my vehicle if I had, even if I was “mouthy” to the cop.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Maybe not you, but a white guy, maybe so.

        I have this friend, who, to use a racist cliche in a different way, is one of the whitest guys I know — very WASPish, very preppy — got handled roughly and hauled in for mouthing off. But then, I doubt you (or, I hope, I) would ever mouth off to this extent, and under such prejudicial circumstances.

        It happened here in Columbia. My friend was guilty of a crime that he could and should have been hauled in for — he’d had too much to drink, and he was driving. But after stopping him and speaking to him sternly, the cop was about to let my friend go — which is what you would no doubt call the “privilege” at work.

        Then, as the cop was walking away, my friend muttered darkly, “F___ing a__h___!”

        The cop spun around, pulled my friend out of the car, had him chicken-winged over the hood in less than a second, put the cuffs on him and hauled him in.

        Which should surprise no one. In fact, this was so dumb that… did I say “friend?” Could I dial that back to “acquaintance,” just for the purposes of this anecdote?…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          This was MANY years ago, when my friend was young, dumb and single, and well before dashcams. Had there been video of the encounter, I have no doubt that everyone who viewed it would have sympathized with the cop, and not my friend.

          Boy, was HE asking for it…

      2. Bryan Caskey

        That whole fact pattern is awful. The whole “hanged in her jail cell” idea strikes me as strange. I don’t know what to make of that. That aside, there’s definitely no reason to arrest someone for an improper lane change. I’ll admit, while it’s not “best practices” to backtalk a police officer during a traffic stop, an officer who arrests you for doing so isn’t displaying good judgment, either.

        Is this a bad time to talk about how only police officers should be trusted with guns, and CWP holders are akin to drunk drivers?

          1. Bryan Caskey

            It wouldn’t have helped. You missed my point, entirely. (I’m on your side as to Ms. Bland.)

            My point was that simply being a police officer does not magically confer some sort of special ability or professionalism. Someone previously mentioned how they trusted police officers with guns, but not CWP holders.

            1. Kathryn Fenner

              I like the British concept of guns for cops only in extreme cases—which wouldn’t work here since there are so many guns already out there.

            2. Mark Stewart

              That was me. I do trust the police. If we lose that as a civil society we are in real trouble. That, however, does not preclude police officers from being just as law-breaking as anyone else. It may also be that simply being a police officer places one in a position to cross the line. I do think that cops have developed a military hardwear fetish which is corrosive to the very idea of policing.

              It isn’t that I don’t trust CWP holders: I just believe that many of them should not be so trusting of themselves.

              1. Bryan Caskey

                “It isn’t that I don’t trust CWP holders: I just believe that many of them should not be so trusting of themselves.”

                Agreed 100%. A great many people do think that simply having a gun is the only thing you need to do. That is a recipe for problems. Like I said before, simply buying a guitar does not make you a musician.

                Practice, practice, practice. Also, not to get to “zen” on ya, but having the right mindset is probably the most important thing.

  3. Karen Pearson

    Although I’m a white woman, my parents taught me that it is a very bad idea to bad mouth a cop. The best bet, they told me, is to be polite, and either shake off whatever they said/did, or bring suit later. They added that bringing a lawsuit wouldn’t work well unless I had witnesses. The police are always believed over the individual, unless the individual can prove otherwise.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      That’s the way to go, whatever your color.

      My sons, back in the days when they played in punk bands, used to get profiled as suspected druggies. On account of the hair, and their vehicles. My younger son drove an old Chevy Caprice that was COVERED with punk stickers of various kind. He got stopped when I wouldn’t, and treated with great suspicion…

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