}

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

What a real president says

Former President Barack Obama issued a statement from him and Michelle on the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings in the USA:
Michelle and I grieve with all the families in El Paso and Dayton who endured these latest mass shootings. Even if details are still emerging, there are a few things we already know to be true.

First, no other nation on Earth comes close to experiencing the frequency of mass shootings that we see in the United States. No other developed nation tolerates the levels of gun violence that we do. Every time this happens, we're told that tougher gun laws won't stop all murders; that they won't stop every deranged individual from getting a weapon and shooting innocent people in public places. But the evidence shows that they can stop some killings. They can save some families from heartbreak. We are not helpless here. And until all of us stand up and insist on holding public officials accountable for changing our gun laws, these tragedies will keep happening.

Second, while the motivations behind these shootings may not yet be fully known, there are indications that the El Paso shooting follows a dangerous trend: troubled individuals who embrace racist ideologies and see themselves obligated to act violently to preserve white supremacy. Like the followers of ISIS and other foreign terrorist organizations, these individuals may act alone, but they've been radicalized by white nationalist websites that proliferate on the internet. That means that both law enforcement agencies and internet platforms need to come up with better strategies to reduce the influence of these hate groups.

But just as important, all of us have to send a clarion call and behave with the values of tolerance and diversity that should be the hallmark of our democracy. We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments; leaders who demonize those who don't look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people. Such language isn't new – it's been at the root of most human tragedy throughout history, here in America and around the world. It is at the root of slavery and Jim Crow, the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. It has no place in our politics and our public life. And it's time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much – clearly and unequivocally.
This is what a real president says, down to getting the names of both cities right. Even two years after leaving office, he’s still demonstrating what acting like a US President means, how it should be done.

Obama later Tweeted a link to an article from Vox, “Democrats have been discussing the same ideas on guns for 25 years. It’s time to change that.”, in which German Lopez argues that "There should be a Medicare-for-all or Green New Deal for ending gun violence." His article is as much a review of how the USA’s politics on guns became so skewed to the Right as it is a call for Democrats to begin a bigger conversation rather than advocating the same minor changes over and over. While some of the proposals talked about in the article go far beyond what Democrats have called for in the past, they’re also common-sense, tried and true measures that work. We should at least talk about these solutions.

And, the USA should have a president who understands that promoting racism and intolerance is never, ever, acceptable. The USA needs a president who will stand up to the forces of hatred, call it by its proper name, and do everything feasible to end it. In 2020, the country will get the chance to make sure that happens, to make sure it gets a real president again.

Update – Tuesday, August 6 (US time, August 7 NZ time): A White House spindoctor has attacked President Obama for his remarks. Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told Fox "News" (of course): "For [President Obama] to interject himself into this conversation, this debate, at this point, it’s his right to do it. But the fact is Donald Trump is the president of all Americans. He’s trying to move this country forward, and comments like that take us backwards and take us to a dark place that we never want to be and we never want to visit again.” Hogan clearly mixed up the presidents he was talking about…

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