Has the age of “enmity” [that Frederick Douglass spoke of] finally ended? Has the “malignant spirit” finally died away? Has the “pestilence” finally abated?
The answer to all of these questions is “no.” The hateful actions of Dylann Roof remind of us of that. So do the white supremacist websites Roof found appealing. So do the many Confederate flags displayed in places across the South — and beyond — today, emblazoning T-shirts, affixed to car bumpers, and worn as lapel pins in business suits.
The heritage these flags stand for was a bloody war initiated by the South. Those Southerners who fired the first shots to attack U.S. troops at Fort Sumter – just a mile or two from the church where Roof gunned down nine black worshippers – aimed not only to “defend” slavery, but to promote slavery’s spread across the nation, especially in the West. The defeat of the South was the defeat of the slavery system.