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In South Carolina, the governor does not have legal authority to alter the flag. Only the General Assembly can do that.
— A spokesman for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), quoted by ABC News, on why only the Confederate flag flying over the state capitol wasn’t at half-mast after the Charleston shootings.
This is one of those situations where you just have to take a step back and say we — you know, you talk about the importance of prayer in this time and we’re now seeing assaults on our religious liberty we’ve never seen before. It’s a time for deeper reflection beyond this horrible situation.
— GOP primary hopeful Rick Santorum, calling the church shooting in Charleston — which left nine people dead — a “crime of hate” and connected the event to a broader “assault on our religious liberty,” the Washington Post reports.
The regularity of mass killings breeds familiarity. The rhythms of grief and outrage that accompany them become—for those not directly affected by tragedy—ritualized and then blend into the background noise. That normalization makes it ever less likely that America’s political system will groan into action to take steps to reduce their frequency or deadliness. Those who live in America, or visit it, might do best to regard them the way one regards air pollution in China: an endemic local health hazard which, for deep-rooted cultural, social, economic and political reasons, the country is incapable of addressing. This may, however, be a bit unfair. China seems to be making progress on pollution.