Confederate flag wasn't the only inspiration for Dylann Storm Roof

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Suspect in Church Shooting Had Apartheid-Era Patches

In the days since nine people were killed in Charleston, much of the debate has centered around a flag. On Monday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the state Capitol grounds, acknowledging that for many, "the flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past." It was a long overdue but impressive statement.

Dylann Storm Roof, the man who killed those nine people while they gathered in their church to pray, proudly waved the Confederate flag as a symbol of his fealty to white supremacy. But he had a fondness for two other flags as well, ones that were stitched to his jacket: the flags of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and apartheid-era South Africa. Though the now-defunct flags flew over distant shores, they too once had a significant impact on American politics.

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Charleston SC shooting, scene and suspect - Dylann Roof
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Confederate flag wasn't the only inspiration for Dylann Storm Roof
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Photos found on a website that allegedly belongs to church shooting suspect Dylann Roof.
Dylann Roof appears via video before a judge in Charleston, S.C, on Friday, June 19, 2015. The 21-year-old man accused of killing nine people inside a black church in Charleston made his first court appearance Friday, with the relatives of all the victims making tearful statements. (Centralized Bond Hearing Court, of Charleston, S.C. via AP, Pool)
Dylann Roof appears via video before a judge in North Charleston, S.C, on Friday, June 19, 2015. The 21-year-old man accused of killing nine people inside a black church in Charleston made his first court appearance Friday, with the relatives of all the victims making tearful statements. (Centralized Bond Hearing Court, of Charleston, S.C. via AP, Pool)
Dylann Roof appears via video before a judge in Charleston, S.C., on Friday, June 19, 2015. The 21-year-old accused of killing nine people inside a black church in Charleston made his first court appearance, with the relatives of all the victims making tearful statements. (Centralized Bond Hearing Court, of Charleston, S.C. via AP)
Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. Roof is a suspect in the shooting of several people Wednesday night at the historic The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. Roof is a suspect in the shooting of several people Wednesday night at the historic The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. Roof is a suspect in the shooting of several people Wednesday night at the historic The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
This photo provided by Charleston County Sheriff's Office shows Dylann Roof, Thursday, June 18, 2015. Roof, 21, was arrested Thursday in the slayings of several people Wednesday, including the pastor, at a prayer meeting inside The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. (Charleston County Sheriff's Office via AP)
Charleston, S.C., shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof is escorted from the Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby, N.C., Thursday, June 18, 2015. Roof is a suspect in the shooting of several people Wednesday night at the historic The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
This April 2015 photo released by the Lexington County (S.C.) Detention Center shows Dylann Roof, 21. Charleston Police identified Roof as the shooter who opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., Wednesday, June 17, 2015, killing several people. (Lexington County (S.C.) Detention Center via AP)
This image has been provided by the Charleston Police Department, Thursday, June 18, 2015. A man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside a historic black church in downtown Charleston, S.C., Wednesday night, June 17, 2015, killing nine people, including the pastor in an assault that authorities are calling a hate crime. The shooter remained at large Thursday. (Photo via Charleston Police Department)
This image has been provided by the Charleston Police Department, Thursday, June 18, 2015. A man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside a historic black church in downtown Charleston, S.C., Wednesday night, June 17, 2015, killing nine people, including the pastor in an assault that authorities are calling a hate crime. The shooter remained at large Thursday. (Charleston Police Department via AP)
The Emanuel AME Church is viewed behind a police vehicle on June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the Church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer holds up a tape in front of the Emanuel AME Church June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Map locates Charleston, S.C., site of a church shooting; 3c x 3 inches; 146 mm x 76 mm;
A view ofthe Emanuel AME Church is seen June 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, after a mass shooting at the church on the evening of June 17, 2015. US police on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old white gunman suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting in one of the nation's oldest black churches in Charleston, an attack being probed as a hate crime. The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the southeastern US city was one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the country in recent years, and comes at a time of lingering racial tensions. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Map locates Charleston, S.C., site of a church shooting; 1c x 2 inches; 46.5 mm x 50 mm;
The sun begins to rise behind the steeple of Emanuel AME Church, Thursday, June 18, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. On Wednesday, a white man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the historic black church, killing multiple people, including the pastor, in an assault that authorities described as a hate crime. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A man kneels across the street from where police gather outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (Wade Spees/The Post And Courier via AP)
Surreace Cox, of North Charleston, S.C., holds a sign during a prayer vigil down the street from the Emanuel AME Church early Thursday, June 18, 2015, following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police talk to a man outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, inCharleston, S.C. (Wade Spees/The Post And Courier via AP)
A passing motorist looks out her window as she stops at an intersection down the street from the Emanuel AME Church early Thursday, June 18, 2015 following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A man looks on as a group of people arrive inquiring about a shooting across the street Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Chaplain James St. John, center, leads senators in prayer, Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. State Sen. Clementa Pinckney was one of those killed Wednesday night in a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2012, file photo, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, right, talks to a supporter during a break in a hearing protesting his re-election in Columbia, S.C. A white man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside an historic black church, in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday, June 17, 2015, killing multiple people, including Pinckney, the church's pastor, in an assault that authorities described as a hate crime. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins, File)
State Senator Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) gets emtional as he sits next to the draped desk of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. Pinckney was one of those killed, Wednesday night in a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley, right, stands next to Police Chief Gregory Mullen as he addresses the media down the street from the Emanuel AME Church early Thursday, June 18, 2015 following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Worshippers gather to pray in a hotel parking lot across the street from the scene of a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Lisa Doctor joins a prayer circle down the street from the Emanuel AME Church early Thursday, June 18, 2015 following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
The steeple of Emanuel AME Church is visible as police close off a section of Calhoun Street early Thursday, June 18, 2015 following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Charleston Emergency Management Director Mark Wilbert holds a flier distributed to media, Thursday, June 18, 2015, with surveillance footage of a suspect wanted in the connection of a shooting Wednesday at Emanuel AME Church during a news conference, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Images on a flier provided to media, Thursday, June 18, 2015, by the Charleston Police Department show surveillance footage of a suspect wanted in connection with a shooting Wednesday at Emanuel AME Church inCharleston, S.C. (Courtesy of Charleston Police Department via AP)
The desk of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney is draped in black cloth with a single rose and vase, Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. Pinckney was one of those killed Wednesday night in a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Investigators work outside the Emanuel AME Church early Thursday, June 18, 2015, following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Worshippers embrace following a group prayer across the street from the scene of a shooting at Emanuel AME Church, Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. A white man opened fire during a prayer meeting inside the historic black church, killing multiple people, including the pastor, in an assault that authorities described as a hate crime. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A distraught man is comforted as a group of concerned people arrive inquiring about a shooting across the street Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Worshippers embrace following a group prayer across the street from the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Worshippers gather to pray in a hotel parking lot across the street from the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen speaks during a news conference, Thursday, June 18, 2015, following Wednesday's shooting at Emanuel AME Church, in Charleston, S.C. Police released surveillance video of a possible suspect and vehicle in the fatal shooting of multiple people at the historic black church. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police stand outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
An FBI agent walks across the street from the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Worshippers gather to pray down the street from the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police stand outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police close off a section of Calhoun Street near the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police walk down the street from the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police stand outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A police officer uses a flashlight while searching the area following a shooting Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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For two decades following the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, the signature civil rights legislation of the 1960s, the battle over segregation and voting rights shifted to the international arena. The apartheid regimes of South Africa and Rhodesia represented a problem for U.S. policymakers: Although they were reliable anticommunist allies in the region, their governments were also explicitly white supremacist.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, the apartheid policies of American allies had little impact on U.S. foreign policy. But as civil rights activists began to win the war against Jim Crow at home, they called into question U.S. support for segregationist regimes abroad. By the late 1970s, the anti-apartheid movement had become the heir apparent to the campus activism of the 1960s. "After several years of conspicuous quiet," the New York Times reported, "social activists on the nation's college campuses have found an issue to stir the social consciences of their fellow students: South Africa."

Not all social activists, though. For some conservatives, apartheid was not a clear-cut issue. While they often – but not always – expressed uneasiness with the regimes' white supremacy, they believed the U.S. should continue to support apartheid in Rhodesia and South Africa. Their arguments mirrored those they had used to support Jim Crow in the American South. First, they argued that black Africans were not fit for self-government. In 1965 Russell Kirk wrote in National Review that the problem facing South Africa was not one of racism. "The real question is prudential: how to govern tolerably a society composed of several races, among which only a minority is civilized."

In such a society, Kirk held, the principle of "one man, one vote," would prove injurious, because it would empower an uncivilized majority. Conservatives used that same argument in the United States to oppose voting reforms. The California Republican Assembly, for instance, declared in 1964, "The principle of one man, one vote violates the very promise of a representative Republican form of government," paving the way for "mob rule."

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Looking back at apartheid
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Confederate flag wasn't the only inspiration for Dylann Storm Roof
Herb Callender, center foreground, an official of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) hits the sidewalk in front of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York, July 22, 1966, after he was thrown out of the building during attempt to stage a sit-in. The incident climaxed demonstration of pickets protesting U.S. relations with South Africa. (AP Photo/John Rooney)
circa 1956: A sign common in Johannesburg, South Africa, reading 'Caution Beware Of Natives'. (Photo by Ejor/Getty Images)
ANC supporters pray in front of the courthouse of Johannesburg, 28 December 1956, to support 152 anti-apartheid militants, in which Nelson Mandela, during their trial. (Photo credit should read OFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Tens of thousands of demonstrators filll New York's Central Park, June 14, 1986. The group protested with songs, signs and chants against apartheid, calling for President Reagan to impose rigid economic sanctions on South Africa. (AP Photo/Ralph Ginzburg)
Rosa Parks, who sparked the civil rights movement nearly 30 years ago by refusing to give up a bus seat in Montgomery, Ala., joins in a march at the South African Embassy in Washington, Dec. 10, 1984, protesting that country's racial policies. Rep. Mickey Leland, D-Tex., marches behind her. (AP Photo)
Demonstrators gather on the levee at Burnside, Louisiana, March 16, 1972, to protest a shipment of chromium ore from Rhodesia that is scheduled to be unloaded there. The shipment is the first scheduled since a United Nations embargo of Rhodesia because of apartheid policies of that nation. (AP Photo/Jack Thornell)
A group of anti-apartheid demonstrators find themselves blocked off behind the municipal building in Berkeley Wednesday, April 18, 1985 after marching from Cal to the courthouse where 20 demonstrators arrested Tuesday, were awaiting arraignment. The protestors became backed up in an alley way after police closed a gate on them. (AP Photo/Ron Tussy)
District of Columbia police officers flank singer Stevie Wonder following his arrest outside the South African Embassy in Washington, Feb. 14, 1985, during an anti-apartheid protest. Wonder said his Valentine's day arrest was "my expression of love to all the people of South Africa who are against the barbaric policies of apartheid." (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Several thousand students jam into Sproul Plaza on the University of California Berkeley campus protesting the university's business ties with apartheid South Africa April 16, 1985. More than 150 students have been arrested for their sit-in on the steps of Sproul Hall. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., uses a megaphone during a protest against the South African policy of apartheid outside the South African Consulate in New York on Saturday, Jan. 26, 1985. No arrests were made at the protest. (AP Photo/Mario Suriani)
Rev. Bishop Desmond Tutu greets a crowd of 10,000 people with his hands held high during a rally at the Greek Theater on the University of California at Berkeley campus, May 14, 1985. Tutu praised the students for their opposition to apartheid in South Africa. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
University of Pennsylvania students burn facsimile passbooks, like those carried by blacks in South Africa, at a rally marking the end of a 3-week-old sit-in protesting the University's South African divestment policies monday, Feb. 10, 1986 at the Philadelphia campus. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA: After violent clashes in Soweto in August 1976, new incidents bursted out 04 September 1976 during riot police intervention against black people in Cape Town. Several people were injured, some of them killed by the police. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/Getty Images)
Unidentified students carrying banners and chanting participate in a rally April 4, 1986 in Boston Common at which college students from around New England protested South Africa's policy of racial segregation and area schools' investments in companies doing business there. (AP Photo/Jim Macmillan)
17th June 1965: A policeman watching an anti-apartheid demonstrators outside the Waldorf Hotel in London where South African cricketers are staying. (Photo by Clive Limpkin/Express/Getty Images)
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Second, proponents of apartheid regimes argued that though segregation may be morally repugnant, the U.S. had no business intervening in the domestic affairs of other nations. It was a states' rights argument for the international stage. Frustrated with Ronald Reagan's muddled statements on apartheid in 1985, National Review asked, "Why doesn't the President just say something like this: 'We are opposed in principle to both Communism and apartheid. However, we will take action only against nations that seek to export these evils.'" In other words: As long as what happens in Rhodesia stays in Rhodesia, the U.S. has no reason to get involved.

As that criticism of Reagan suggests, conservatives in the mid-1980s were split over the issue of apartheid. Some, like Pat Buchanan and Richard Viguerie, strongly supported the apartheid regimes. Should apartheid fail, "the real rulers of South Africa would be white and Soviet," Viguerie argued. Meanwhile members of Newt Gingrich's Conservative Opportunity Society, eager to build a conservative majority, believed opposing apartheid was necessary in order to shed conservatism's racist image.For that, Buchanan awarded the group the "Turncoat of the Year Award" for "stabbing South Africa in the back."

Split between anticommunism and anti-racism, the right was in a bind. Economic sanctions, America's main weapon against apartheid regimes, won support of all but the most hard-line conservatives, like Sens. Barry Goldwater and Jesse Helms.When Congress passed sanctions in 1986, Reagan vetoed them. His veto was overridden with the support of Republicans like Bob Dole and Mitch McConnell.

The collapse of Rhodesia in 1979 and apartheid South Africa in the early 1990s largely invalidated the pro-apartheid (or anti-anti-apartheid) arguments in the United States. They would only live on in the white supremacist fringes, where Dylann Storm Roof encountered them. But their history matters, because their appropriation by violent white supremacists like Roof reveals the corrosive ideology behind apartheid that its proponents in the 1970s and 1980s worked so hard to obscure.

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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