It's true that the removal of the Confederate flag won't solve the "country's problem with race," but the author is right that it is "a step in the right direction." Some people will say that a flag is only a symbol, but symbols can have great cultural significance as myth and meaning. South Carolina flies a flag that symbolizes slavery and a war of rebellion. What does that say about that state's commitment to racial reconciliation? What does it say about the United States as a whole that this racist symbol--the confederate flag--has migrated away from the south and can be found in every state in the union, even though the flag evokes the specter of civil war and treasonous rebellion?
No surprise at all that vicious racist comments infest the online chat rooms of law enforcement. For many police officers, "the blacks" are not US citizens (certainly not equal citizens). The blacks are merely slaves off the plantation, with no rights that a white man is bound to respect (in the immortal words of a supreme court justice). The police do not think of themselves as protecting black communities; they act as though they are protecting "white" communities from the blacks. As for "serving" black communities, the idea is ridiculous. Slave patrols don't "serve" the slaves, they control and oppress them.
Not a few white people in the United States would like the blacks to simply disappear: to go away, die off, "return to Africa." This white fantasy of vanishing blacks has existed in US culture since the days of the Colonization movement in the 1830's. It persisted down to the Civil War when even Abraham Lincoln gave it some thought. It was only an aspect of Ku Klux Klan thinking, as the Klan was more concerned to keep blacks as slaves than to drive them out of the country. But the fantasy of all white America has been given new sinister life by the gains of the Civil Rights Movement and by the multicultural character of mass immigration. People like Dylann Roof see the permanent end of "white America" looming before them and they don't like it. Hence the desire for a "race war" to settle once and for all the troubling problem of "the blacks."
In one respect, Dylann's Roof's fantasizing comes straight out of American history--the embrace of the confederacy, the reliance on guns, the horror of "miscegenation," the paranoia of being "white" and oppressed...it's all there. On the other hand, there is a distinct neo-nazi element in Roof's thinking. The belief that a race war is just around the corner is hitlerite, because Hitler showed that a racial genocide is indeed possible. For racists, Hitler is the truth. Even the Klan cannot match up to the utter ruthlessness of the Nazis. It's clear that Roof went out of his way to commit a totally ruthless crime. In other words, he wanted to come off as a Nazi. And I would say that he fully succeeded.
And there are people in this country who speak harshly of Roof's victims! These people are America's own nazis.