Has there been a mass murderer in recent history with as much power to change America as Dylann Roof? Roof, who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, SC last summer, set off a furious wave of indignation. After witnessing such a horrible, racist crime, the country wanted to take action. That’s understandable. But instead of focusing our energies on the white supremacist cults and ignorance that led Roof to do what he did, the left decided to make his shooting spree all about one thing: the Confederacy.

The Confederate Flag had nothing to do with Roof’s murders, of course, but that’s somehow where we landed. The issue seemed so tangential that you almost had to wonder if there was something about those murders that the media wanted us to overlook. For instance, Roof’s long manifesto, which at times sounded a lot like the “whiteness” theories coming out of liberal academia. While Roof obviously derived different conclusions from these theories than most progressives, you can’t ignore the similarities.

“Even today, blacks are subconsciously viewed by White people are lower beings,” Roof wrote. “They are held to a lower standard in general. This is why they are able to get away with things like obnoxious behavior in public. Because it is expected of them.”

That’s not exactly how a professor of white privilege would put it, but the ideological foundation is identical. In his essay, Roof criticizes today’s history classes for instilling a “subconscious White superiority complex in Whites and an inferiority complex in blacks.”

So liberals had a keen interest in avoiding any detailed discussion of Roof’s ideas.

Or perhaps they just didn’t want Americans to think too deeply about how useless our national background check system was in this instance. Every mass shooting that gets significant television coverage leads to one, predictable thing: a renewed push for gun control. Not even the San Bernardino terrorist attack was exempt. But this one was. Why? Because Roof bought his gun legally, despite the fact that he should have been disqualified through a background check. The system failed, and it proved that liberal gun control does not have the answers they promised.

So they made it all about the Confederate Flag. And it’s still continuing to this day. Just last week, the University of Louisville announced that a Confederate monument honoring Kentuckians who died in the Civil War would be removed to “a more appropriate place.” Read: Somewhere no one will ever have to look at it again.

History is a story. We emphasize certain things and we downplay others. Shine a bright enough spotlight on anyone and you can find a justification to vilify them. Out of 44 presidents, not one of them left office without innocent blood on their hands. Shall we really demonize Andrew Jackson for the Trail of Tears while giving JFK a pass for Vietnam? And you can go right on down the line.

Confederate soldiers didn’t give their lives to protect the institution of slavery, they died for a principle they believed in – the right to oppose federal oppression. And when you realize that, it suddenly becomes clear why today’s liberals hate the Confederate Flag so very much.