Sunday, June 21, 2015

Hillary addresses racism and the Charleston mass murder

Good on Hillary for this one. Hillary Clinton at the 2015 U.S. Conference of Mayors Hillary Clinton YouTube channel 06/20/2015



She starts talking about the Charleston mass murder around 2:50. She starts off the speech with some vague bipartisan boilerplate for the mayors' conference.

But I'm not inclined to nitpick on this one. Because she jumps on the racism and gun proliferation issues directly. "Once again racist rhetoric has metastasized into racist violence."

She even says the phrase, "institutionalized racism." And it's all put in a way that white people can understand. But without trying to phrase it to comfort the comfortable.

After years of Obama pushing for his Grand Bargain, hearing Democratic politicians say "across the aisle" on anything is like nails on the blackboard to me. But on gun proliferation, she even uses that "across the aisle" phrase to frame how irresponsible the Republicans are on the issue. No "Sistah Soljah moment" crap here.

At the end, she quotes the same Scripture verse that Jerry Brown used back in his second term as Governor to oppose some draconian austerity initiative that Howard Jarvis had gotten onto the ballot. Jerry actually opened up a Bible and read from it, but she does fine with it here.

This New York Times story by Nicholas Fandos headlines her focus on white racism, Hillary Clinton Calls America’s Struggle With Racism Far From Over 06/20/2015.

One conservative twist on display on Meet the Press 06/21/2015 from both Mike Huckabee and David "Bobo" Brooks was to emphasize the courtroom scene in which families of the victims called out their forgiveness to confessed killer.

But it's one thing for traumatized families to do that. It's another for the Huck and Bobo to try to make this a story about forgiveness of perpetrators almost before the blood of the people he murdered has even had time to dry.

White Republicans like the Huck and pretty much every commentator on FOX News aren't willing to forgive black victims shot or choked to death by white killer cops for no good reason. Instead, they cheerfully defend the cops and look for every possible way to smear to murder victim in those cases.

And the same Meet the Press show where the Huck and Bobo wanted to emphasize forgiveness for the white racist mass murderer included a segment on convicted murderers at Sing-Sing prison who used guns in the killings. All of them black.

My first reaction to hearing about the families calling out their forgiveness was that I wouldn't have done that. Because I'm just not as good a Christian as they seem to be. Because the Christian faith does call on believers to forgive those who have done you wrong. No one on the segment wondered what deep defect in White Culture might cause white politicians to howl for the death penalty in terms of unrestrained vengeance instead of emphasizing Christian forgiveness.

Chuck Todd hosted a segment near the start with the Simmons family of one of the Charleston victims, Daniel Simmons, Sr., in which two of the six members on camera spoke in what struck me as stiff, well-rehearsed words. They didn't talk specifically about forgiveness, but did emphasize the need for healing. Todd congratulated them for being examples of "reconciliation, forgiveness, love, faith." Todd And he concluded with the fatuous comment about the community uniting in grief, "Perhaps, if this is what comes out of it, maybe we're a better society for it."

I remember seeing a column by Eric Alterman once noting that "coping" is something that TV news departments feel comfortable doing. But was this really the best approach for the Sunday after what Todd himself in the opening called "the worst racial attack in decades"?

Todd doesn't seem to do as well talking about violent white racism. Look! Scary black murderers in prison!

But what about the families in court calling out their forgiveness? What the Huck and Bobo seem to miss is that they were calling out to a young man who had already confessed to the murder. Calling out their forgiveness is formally and presumably subjectively taking a Christian position. But you forgive someone who has done you wrong. In the context of the court appearance, it was also a call of condemnation for the act of the murderer.

It takes white conservatives like the Huck and Bobo to use that scene to reduce the Charleston mass murder to an anodyne nicey-nice story of forgiveness and reconciliation.