CHARLESTON, South Carolina — In an article discussing a South Carolina police officer fired on Facebook photo showing him wearing Confederate Flag underwear, liberal warhorse, the Washington Post added fuel to the media’s racism hype by comparing the officer to two accused murderers.
As Breitbart News reported on the story:
North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers cited the photo of Sgt. Shannon Dildine in a termination letter sent to the officer.
In the letter the chief told the officer that the photo damaged the “ability to improve trust and instill confidence when working with our citizens.”
“Your posting in this manner led to you being publicly identified as a North Charleston Police officer and associated both you and the Department with an image that symbolizes hate and oppression to a significant portion of the citizens we are sworn to serve,” Chief Driggers wrote.
— ABC News 4 (@ABCNews4) June 26, 2015
The firing came as the Confederate flag went from a common icon to a forbidden image within a few days. What had begun as a somewhat reasonable revisit of the decades-long debate about the role of the Confederate flag in the wake of the Charleston Church Massacre quickly devolved into an increasingly bizarre game of politically correct one-upmanship. The flag purge spread from Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley calling for it’s removal from the state capitol to retailers like eBay and Walmart removing all traces of it and down to the pits of absurdity of the Apple App Store removing Civil War games, because they featured the flag of the South.
Given that atmosphere and the increasingly strident social media scalp hunting, posting the photo certainly wasn’t the smartest move; however, the Washington Post wasn’t content to live it that. Instead, they published a sloppily researched article that torqued up the drama by tying Dildine to not just one but two accused killers.
First, WaPo writer Michael E. Miller describes Dildine with the journalistically questionable phrase “basking in Confederate pride.” Then he jumps into a comparison of Dildine to the officer who faces murder charges for killing a black man.
North Charleston and neighboring Charleston have been at the center of several recent controversies revolving around race and the Confederate flag.
On April 4, Dildine’s colleague, North Charleston cop Michael Slager, was caught on camera fatally shooting African-American man Walter Scott in the back during a traffic stop.
When footage of the incident emerged a few days later, Driggers fired Slager shortly before Slager was arrested and charged with murder.
There has been no evidence presented so far that the shooting death of Walter Scott was caused or related in any way to either the Confederate flag or to underwear.
Miller and the Washington Post then draws a direct comparison between the police officer and accused racist murderer Roof, writing:
On June 17, the neighboring city of Charleston was the site of a horrific hate crime as Dylann Roof allegedly attacked a historic black church, killing nine.
Like Dildine, Roof had posted pictures of himself online posing with the Confederate flag. Unlike the cop, however, Roof also appeared in his photos wearing a gun.
There’s another fairly significant difference: Dylann Roof is alleged to have killed nine innocent people in cold blood whereas Dildine posted a photo of himself wearing underwear on Facebook.
The issue with Roof was the multiple murders he’s charged with, not that he posed with a flag.
The Washington Post apparently had another example of racial problems in Charleston listed in the story but that reference is now removed, for reasons cited in the correction at the bottom of the article.
Correction: The original version of this story mentioned a recent church fire in North Charleston. That fire was actually in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Charlotte is a three hour drive from Charleston and in another state, but to be fair to the Washington Post both cities do begin with the same letters of the alphabet.
Follow Lee Stranahan on Twitter at @Stranahan.