by Sam Spence
There's more curiosity about the Confederate flag on the internet since last Wednesday's mass murder of nine Mother Emanuel worshipers than at any other time in the past decade, according to Google Trends.
A look at Trends data over the past week shows a few obvious terms that have peaked, including "Dylann Roof," and "Emanuel AME Church." But even the search terms "Charleston" and "Confederate Flag" have made up a larger portion of Google searches in the past seven days than in any time since 2004, when the search data begins. Google Trends data charts an indexed number of searches relative to the total queries in the U.S. on a scale of 1-100.
Searches about the flag began increasing soon after the shooting death of nine people at an Emanuel AME Bible study in Charleston by suspected gunman Dylann Roof, who is said to have wanted to start a race war. Media reports uncovering a website linked to Roof that glorified the flag over the weekend triggered further interest. And news yesterday about political action to remove the flag from the Statehouse grounds corresponds with another spike that continues today. Searches around "Confederate States of America," "Sons of Confederate Veterans," "Walmart," and "hate crime" have also appeared in Google Hot Searches; Walmart and Sears announced yesterday they would no longer carry Confederate flag-themed merchandise.
When the data is normalized across geographic areas, five of the 10 cities across the U.S. with the most searches for the Confederate flag since Thursday are in the Columbia metro area. The suspected shooter Roof has roots in nearby Lexington County, and of course, the flag itself sits in front of the state capitol.