Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” national President and CEO of the NAACP Cornell William Brooks reacted to the fatal shooting of 9 parishioners inside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC and said the Confederate flag is a symbol of the “atmosphere of hate,” in America.
Brooks said, “There is in this country a climate of caring, but also atmosphere of hate. What we’ve seen in this city across the last few days is a climate of caring, people have come together they wrapped their arms around one another. They extended love to one another. That speaks to the best of who we are. But there’s also an atmosphere of hate. This young man who entered bible study, and received right hand of fellowship, perhaps received open Bible from the pastor, laid down that Bible, laid down the hand of fellowship picked up a gun assassinated nine people what can be called no less than flesh and blood obscenity.”
He continued, “This crime may have occurred in moments but it came into being over some time. This young man was indoctrinated, radicalized if you will with an ideology of white nationalism or racism. And so the point being here we’ve got to look at not only this individual act of brutality we also have to look at the atmosphere from which it emerged we have to address that. When we think about the fact that in this country the 784 hate groups, the level of hate crimes in this country has remained constant over years. We have to allocate resources to address these hate groups and these hate crimes. The fact of the matter is that Justice Department underestimates the degree of hate crimes in this country because they have to rely on self reporting. That is a challenge. And the fact that we have at least two to three hundred thousand hate crimes in given year is unconscionable and inconsistent with our values as Americans. So we have got to address that.”
“This young man was wearing a flag of the pre-Nelson Mandela apartheid era South Africa, he also wore flag of the nation of Rhodesia, drove a car embellished with the Confederate flag. Each of these symbols is illustrative of underlying racism in this country, among a minority of Americans but level of racism and racial bigotry and racist ideology that we cannot blink, we cannot ignore, we have to address. It is a moral ugliness in our midst but we have to address that.”
On the Confederate flag Brooks said, “The NAACP has led a boycott of the state of South Carolina for years on end because we are endeavoring to bring that flag down. The fact of the matter is that flag represents exclusion, represents bigotry, represents biased. There are white nationalist groups across the country who see that flag as representing their values. The fact of the matter is our American flag represents the values of the majority of Americans, that is inclusion that is democracy, that is the spirit of our Founding Fathers and Mothers.”
He added, “It has to come down. It must come down.”
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