We now know that Vester Flanagan was a sort of mirror image of Dylann Roof: black instead of white, gay instead of straight, but like Roof a nut with a cause. Like Roof, Flanagan’s cause was race. Flanagan was race-obsessed and, like Roof, wanted to incite a race war.
I agree with Hugh Hewitt that it is a mistake to pay attention to “manifestos” left behind by insane killers. It only encourages them. But if we are going to take seriously the ideology of lunatics, it must be a two-way street. Dylann Roof’s racist ideology was taken very seriously, to the point where Confederate flags came down across the South. In Flanagan’s case, the focus is on gun control rather than his equally racist ideology.
Flanagan was consumed with race hatred, and was disciplined by the television station for which he worked at the time for, among other things, wearing a Barack Obama button while he stood in line to vote. So why do we not retroactively conclude that images of Barack Obama are hateful, like the Confederate flag, and must be banned? Glenn Reynolds asks, “Will Obama apologize for the behavior of one of his followers?” Of course not. But imagine if a racist white killer who worked for a television station had been similarly disciplined for wearing, say, a Ted Cruz button. Do you not think that fact would be deemed highly relevant, and highly embarrassing to Senator Cruz?