The murder of Michael Westerman, age 19, of Elkton, Kentucky, allegedly by four young black males, should alarm anyone who publicly displays pride in his Southern heritage. Westerman, the father of infant twins, was gunned down as he drove with his wife between Guthrie, Kentucky, and Springfield, Tennessee, on January 14. According to Robertson County (Tennessee) Sheriff’s Department detective Dave Benton, the assailants were motivated by “the fact that [Westerman’s] truck had a rebel flag on it.” Though the Associated Press and the local news media reported that the attack stemmed from a case of mistaken identity—Westerman’s windows were tinted and the attackers thought they were shooting at a vehicle full of young white racists—it turns out that there had been an earlier confrontation at a gas station parking lot in the small town of Guthrie. Westerman reportedly tried to avoid trouble by driving away, whereupon he was followed by the black youths and shot through the heart with a .32 caliber pistol. Guthrie’s leading black spokesman justified the shooting: “They didn’t intend to hurt him. They just wanted to stop him about the flag.”

The local print media, after sitting on the story for several days, took off and ran with it upon learning that at least three cross burnings had occurred subsequent to the murder. On January 19, the Nashville Banner ran a short piece headed “Burning crosses provoke FBI probe,” in which Westerman’s murder was glossed over in the first paragraph. To the Banner and the FBI, the real story was the cross burnings—not the murder.

The Banner‘s headline on January 20 was revealing; “Youths thought targets were racists,” implying that had the targets indeed been “racists,” the murder would have been justified. “Black rage” has seemingly become a legitimate defense in the eyes of the liberal media. But had the alleged attackers been white and the victim black (perhaps clad in Malcolm X attire), the story would have made international headlines. Evidently, the Michael Westermans of the world do not elicit from the media the same sympathies reserved for, say, abortion doctors and black Los Angeles “motorists.” Heritage groups of all stripes should demand an apology from the NAAGP, SCLC, and other chrome South-bashers whose decade-long assault on all things Confederate has poisoned the minds of street thugs like those who confronted Michael Westerman. The mother of the alleged gunman, interviewed in her Riverdale, Illinois, home said: “The problem that brought this about was racism.” She doesn’t know how right she is.

While we should not condone cross burnings or other rash and violent acts to avenge Mr. Westerman’s death, we would be well advised to exercise our Second Amendment right to self-protection before we go about exercising our First Amendment right to display the Confederate flag or any other Southern symbol. In the meantime, we can wait and see whether the United States Justice Department is as zealous in Guthrie, Kentucky, as it was in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas. Should the heads of the American Empire’s civil rights and law enforcement establishment continue to consider cross burnings a more serious offense than murder, then we of the Confederate persuasion shall have to defend ourselves, as Donald Davidson wrote, “with the valor of our own arm.