You've Got to Be Carefully Taught

Wade Michael Page and the Good Ol' Stars and Bars

08.06.12 4:51 PM ET

Mediaite posts some photos of the man it identifies as Wade Michael Page, the Sikh temple gunman, in his rock band's rehearsal space. There's one in front of a German eagle design that was used by the Nazis, one in front of a large, traditional swastika flag, and one of him in front of the flag of the Confederate States of America.

Seeing as how he's not Southern, the Stars and Bars aren't exactly part of his heritage. But I thought the people who supported continuing to hoist the standard above certain state capitol buildings say that that's all the flag is, a symbol of heritage. Huh. How do we square this? You don't suppose the Confederate flag appeals inherently to racists, do you?

Dave Weigel has some stuff on Page's white-power bands. Page was in one band called Youngland, one of whose songs features the lyric: “Stand one stand all, stand up, stand proud/and raise the white man’s flag.”

What a creepy subculture. Rock music, of course, or rock'n'roll more accurately, is what brought the black and white races together in the first place--the "colored" kids in the segregated balcony rushing down to the orchestra during Little Richard shows and all that. It's kind of hard for me to imagine that anyone that sick with hate could even learn to play an instrument, because learning to play an instrument is an act of love. But judging by the lyrics, he's as a bad a musician as he is a human being. Not that I mean to make light of this, obviously. It's the sort of thing that makes one very, very sad about the world, and although there is (as far as we know) no mainstream political culpability here, there does appear to be a strain of American heritage he has drawn on for his world view, and it's the one that's usually at play in these cases.