In the aftermath of the horrific shooting in South Carolina, a cry has arisen calling for the Confederate flag that flies on the capitol grounds in South Carolina to be taken down.
Russell Moore has joined in the call, and I have been called out on Twitter to do the same. Let me explain my reasons for declining to do so — I am declining to say anything about it, one way or the other. There are three reasons.
First, as I explained in another post after another shooting, it is unseemly to politicize these horrors when the families are still weeping. Whether the issue is gun control or something else, whenever a hard sell comes in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy, the only thing it makes me want to do is wonder at how boorish some people can be. If this the case when the political issue is arguably connected, as with gun control, how much more is it the case when it is so obliquely related? Did the alleged shooter even know about the flag? Boorish behavior can be exhibited by either side. If one man starts a roaring debate in favor of gun control the same day of the shooting, the situation is not improved if an advocate of open carry does the same thing the next day. The families involved, who include godly Christian people calling for repentance and a turn to Christ, ought not to be distracted by apparatchiks trying to make some political hay out of their grief.
Secondly, when the appropriate time comes for us to discuss as a people what our response should be — and it will come soon enough — let us start with issues that stand a chance of being far more relevant to the shooting than a flag at the state capitol. Is the point to help solve the problem or is the point to make a grand gesture? Let me give you an example. If you insist on having a national conversation about these iniquitous shootings, then why don’t we start by talking about psychotropic drugs? Take all the mass shootings perpetrated in the last twenty years by young males under the age of twenty five. What percentage of the shooters were on prescribed psychotropic drugs? What drugs? How long had they been on them? And, most importantly, why do you not have immediate access to the answers to these questions? I will tell you why — it is because the industry that promotes better living through chemistry is a politically protected class, in a way that gun manufacturers and Sons of Confederate Veterans are not. So it is not enough to debate the political aspects of such shootings at the right time, it is also necessary to debate the right thing at the right time. Otherwise the clouds of grief just cover for the emptiness of the gestures.