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Gaping wounds

Guns and race — two of America’s most intractable problems — were entwined in Charleston.

By: Express News Service | Published: June 24, 2015 12:00 am
Charleston attack, Charleston racial attack, barack obama, america racial attack, Charleston church attack, church attack america,  Charleston black american attack,  African Americans, indian express editorial In Charleston, the most poisonous of the country’s problems — guns and racism — came together in the most tragic way. (AP photo)

I’ve had to make statements like this too many times,” said US President Barack Obama in the wake of the murder of nine black churchgoers by a white supremacist in Charleston, South Carolina. Indeed, through his presidency, Obama has offered similar condolences after mass shootings 14 times. It’s a morbid routine. After gunmen invade universities, elementary schools and places of worship, the nation is shocked and outraged. Politicians, especially Republicans, are quick to pin the blame in ways that seem designed to absolve the gun industry: these are mentally disturbed individuals, they say, and never mind how they got the guns. On occasion, as after the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, in which 20 six-year-olds were slain, the White House tries to rally support to institute meaningful gun control measures that fail to pass Congress.

This time, accompanying these depressingly familiar rituals, was an image that encapsulates America’s unhealed racial wounds: the flag of the Confederacy fluttering at the statehouse in Columbia even as other flags flew at half-mast. It took South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley almost a week after the hate crime to call for this symbol of oppression and slavery to be removed. She, too, asserted that the killer had appropriated the flag in a “sick and twisted” manner. But, as Obama put it, “the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution… casts a long shadow” — still.

In some ways, in fact, the inauguration of the Obama era has more clearly exposed the deep racial tensions simmering under the complacent narrative of an America that has come to terms with its past. From the persistent obstructionism displayed by the Republican Party towards Obama to the structural racism of the criminal justice system that has led to the deaths of so many innocent African Americans, it is all too clear that the election of a black president has not spelt the end of racism in America. In Charleston, the most poisonous of the country’s problems — guns and racism — came together in the most tragic way.

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  1. M
    mohit kumar
    Jun 24, 2015 at 4:19 pm
    This refers to “Gaping Wounds (June 24, 2015)”. Same chain of events, same condolences, same regrets and life moves on in the “developed US”. I don’t think that this oldest democracy is learning anything at all from the aghast and disgraceful acts of racism and killings of innocent souls. The Obama regime has itself witnessed such unfortunate events more than 10 times and not a single concrete step seems to have been taken to curb the root causes of such events. The crony capitalists and lobbyists have made sure that the gun industry thrives in this impending chaos in the American society and this is utterly shameful. These recurring incidents have very simply reflected that social contours have wide fractures in the oldest democracy and people have not have come with terms of peaceful living with heterogeneity of society. The US has been often called as melting pot of cultures and I don’t think that the present immaturity simmering has been causing the admixture to attain its pure form as it is getting adulterated with times. The civil society, the intellectuals, the youth have to take charge there and make sure that the frequent blots on their nation don’t surface up quite often.