Of Powder Kegs and Shoulder Chips

On Wednesday morning, August 26, 2015, forty-one-year-old Vester L. Flanagan II, a.k.a. Bryce Williams, walked up to a WDBJ-TV (Roanoke) television crew in Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, drew a gun, and opened fire, killing 24-year-old news reporter Alison Parker and her 27-year-old cameraman, Adam Ward. Vicki Gardner, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce, who was being interviewed by Parker when the shooting occurred, was shot in the back but is expected to survive.

A statewide manhunt ensued and within hours Virginia State Police and sheriff’s deputies drove Flanagan’s car off the road on Interstate 66 in northern Virginia. Before officers could remove Flanagan from his rented automobile he attempted suicide.   He died approximately two hours later in a Fauquier County, Virginia, hospital from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Flanagan was a TV journalist, obviously consumed with self-loathing over the color of his skin and his sexual orientation, who had apparently walked around for many years with a large chip on his shoulder and a deep-seated hatred in his heart for white people. In fact, in a rambling 23-page manifesto faxed to ABC News in the hours before the shooting, Flanagan wrote: “I’ve been a human powder keg for a while… just waiting to go BOOM!!!! You (expletive deleted)! You want a race war (expletive deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE (expletive deleted)!!!”

As news reports describe the manifesto, Flanagan was inspired by the Virginia Tech shootings of April 16, 2007, in which 32 students and teachers were killed and 17 wounded, and the April 20, 1999, Columbine High School shootings, in Colorado, in which 13 students and teachers were killed and 21 wounded. But it was the June 17, 2015, massacre at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, that finally drove him over the edge. Flanagan felt compelled to respond to Dylann Roof’s massacre in which 9 black churchgoers were killed and one wounded.

The horrible crime that Flanagan committed is symptomatic of the stultifying frustration that so many young black people feel today. Most walk around with huge chips on their shoulders, just daring white people to show disrespect for them or even to brush past them too closely on a public sidewalk, while others, like Flanagan, are so full of seething anger that they become walking “powder kegs” of racial hatred.

Trayvon Martin, who felt he was being unfairly shadowed in Sanford, Florida, lost his life because he responded to the chip on his shoulder by physically assaulting a neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman. Eric Garner, who was observed selling untaxed cigarettes on a sidewalk in Staten Island, New York, lost his life when the chip on his shoulder caused him to resist arrest. Michael Brown, who ignored the instructions of a police officer not to walk down the middle of a Ferguson street, attempted to take the officer’s handgun away from him. He lost his life because the chip fell off his shoulder and he became an instantaneous “powder keg.”

These are just three stories out of millions. All over America we find young blacks engaging in deadly home invasions and a sometimes deadly activity called the “knockout game,” in which a gang of young blacks pick out an intended victim, at random, and attempt to knock that person unconscious with a single punch. But what is so frightening and unsettling about all this violence is that the difference between a young black man with a chip on his shoulder and a Vester Flanagan with a “powder keg” mentality is only a split second in time.

But none of this has happened in a vacuum. There is a reason why we’ve become two nations occupying the same piece of real estate. How did we get to this point? The answer is a political one. Beginning in the early 1930s, the Democratic Party has worked tirelessly at building a broad national coalition of special interests, and through the following eighty years, as a means of keeping elements of their coalition from becoming a conglomeration of warring factions, they created a multitude of federal giveaway programs to benefit all of their political constituencies.

As an example, they have produced a welfare state with a permanent underclass of minority citizens where three out of four babies are born out of wedlock, where government-subsidized housing developments are not only the most expensive high-rise slums in the country but, next to ISIS-controlled territory in the Middle East, the most dangerous places on the face of the Earth… places where Barack Obama’s “hope and change” have left people with nothing but crushing despair and little hope for the future.

The only price blacks have had to pay for all the free money, food stamps, subsidized housing, free healthcare, and preferential treatment in jobs and higher education was to pull the Democrat lever on Election Day.  With that “devil’s bargain” in place, blacks have consistently given 90-95 percent of their votes to Democrats.  Yet, decades later, and in spite of endless promises of “better times” by liberals and Democrats, blacks have seen little social and economic progress.

So is it any wonder that, in 2015, as blacks look back over more than half a century of fidelity to the Democrat Party on the one hand, and an almost complete absence of social and economic progress on the other, they would tend to be a bit angry?  In assessing where they are today they tend to blame white Republicans more than white Democrats because Democrats have convinced them that they are the “victims” of an economic system that benefits only white Republicans.

But how does a young black man in 2015 suddenly turn all of the seething anger and resentment he feels into the sort of positive energy that has made Dr. Ben Carson, a world-famous pediatric neurosurgeon, what he is today?  It simply is not possible to do so because we cannot go back in time and start all over again with the same wise counsel that Dr. Carson received as a child.  Many black men are irretrievably lost and cannot be rehabilitated or redirected at this late date.

These are the cold, ugly facts of American political history in the 20th and 21st centuries.  But as damaging as all those years of Democratic social experimentation have been, it’s clear they have not finished their long term goal of the complete and utter destruction of the greatest nation on Earth.  According to a July 20, 2015 National Review article by Stanley Kurtz, describing Barack Obama’s plan to reorient our cities and suburbs, “It is difficult to say what’s more striking about President Obama’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation: its breathtaking radicalism, the refusal of the press to cover it, or its potential political ramifications.  The danger AFFH poses to Democrats explains why the press barely mentions it.  This lack of curiosity, in turn, explains why the revolutionary nature of the rule has not been properly understood.”

So exactly what is this new Obama proposal that is so “breathtakingly radical” that not even his apologists in the mainstream media are willing to discuss it for fear that, if the American people begin to understand it, it will severely damage the long term prospects of the Democrat Party?

According to Kurtz, the Obama plan has three major elements: 1) Inhibit suburban growth and, when possible, encourage suburban re-migration to cities, 2) Force the urban poor into the suburbs through the imposition of low-income housing quotas, and 3) Institute “regional tax-base sharing” where states force upper-middle-class suburbs to share tax revenues with nearby cities and less-well-off suburbs.

As Kurtz correctly concludes, “If you press suburbanites into cities, transfer urbanites to the suburbs, and redistribute suburban tax money to cities, you have effectively abolished the suburbs.”  In short, the Obama AFFH rule represents such a radical approach to population control and distribution that it immediately brings to mind the 1973 Khmer Rouge policy of driving Cambodian city dwellers into the countryside, where they were savagely brutalized and murdered.  Since Obama is the sort of man who cares about nothing but his legacy and his place in history, would it not be ironic for history to record him as the “Pol Pot of the 21st century?”

The prescription for what ailed the black community some 60 years ago was precisely what Dr. Carson discussed in his breathtaking USA Today editorial of August 24, 2015.  Dr. Carson points out that “our schools are failing and we have no power to abandon them.  The actions of rogue police officers take black lives one at a time.  Our public school system has destroyed black lives not in the ones and twos, but in whole generations… The schools don’t teach and our children don’t learn.  Too many public schools are controlled by teachers unions focused more on the convenience and compensation of adults rather than the education of children who started out far behind.  Their failures don’t kill as quickly, but they do kill as surely as a bullet.”

Finally, he suggests that black people need to have a talk with the Democratic Party.  “Let’s tell them, we don’t want to be clothed, fed, and housed.  We want honor and dignity.  We don’t want a plan to give us public housing in nice neighborhoods.  We want an end to excuses for schools that leave us without the means to buy our own houses, where we choose to live.  We want the skills needed to compete, not a consolation prize of Section 8 (housing), food stamps, and a lifetime of government paperwork.”

That is precisely what black people need and want, but that’s not what Democrats have given them.  In fact, there is not a smidgeon of evidence that liberals and Democrats care a whit about black people beyond the votes they deliver on Election Day.  And as more and more blacks come to the stark realization that they’ve been played for suckers, the result is often a violent one.

Yes, black Americans have every right to be angry… even as angry as Vester Flanagan… but, if blame is to be assessed, their anger and their deep-seated rage are more appropriately directed at Democrats who bear total responsibility for where black people are today.  Unfortunately, when black men with chips on their shoulders decide to give vent to their anger and their frustrations, they never stop long enough to ask to see anyone’s voter registration card.

Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College.  He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.








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