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“Oops, He Did It Again”: After S.C. ‘Accident’, Perry Downplays Gun Issue

About a year ago, following a mass shooting in Santa Barbara, California, Joni Ernst was asked whether it was appropriate for her to air TV campaign ads in which she pointed a gun directly at the camera. The right-wing Iowan, who went on to win her U.S. Senate race, replied, “I would not – no. This unfortunate accident happened after the ad.”

It’s true that the murders happened after the ad, but to call the killing spree an “accident” seemed like a poor choice of words.

Today, the word came up again, this time in reference to the massacre in Charleston. Right Wing Watch highlighted Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry’s remarks to Newsmax this morning:

[The former Texas governor] said that the president is trying to “take the guns out of the hands of everyone in this country.”

“This is the MO of this administration, any time there is an accident like this – the president is clear, he doesn’t like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message,” Perry said.

Reality tells a very different story. First, President Obama has never even suggested Americans shouldn’t own firearms. There remains an important difference between safeguards that are consistent with the Second Amendment and a knee-jerk assumption that any and all safety measures are attempts to “take the guns out of the hands of everyone in this country.”

And second, I can think of a lot of words to describe the mass shooting in South Carolina, but “an accident” isn’t a phrase that comes to mind. {Update: see below.]

In the same interview, Perry acknowledged that the Charleston murders were “a crime of hate,” but then turned his attention to, of all things, drug abuse.

“Also, I think there is a real issue to be talked about. It seems to me – again without having all the details about this – that these individuals have been medicated and there may be a real issue in this country from the standpoint of these drugs and how they’re used.”

It wasn’t altogether clear who the GOP candidate was referring to when he mentioned ‘these individuals.”

* Update: Perry campaign aides say the former governor misspoke; he meant to say “incident,” not “accident.” That certainly makes more sense. That said, Perry was also wrong in his characterization of the president’s position and his argument that drug abuse, but not guns, ought to be part of the conversation is difficult to take seriously. This isn’t, in other words, just about the unfortunate use of the word “accident.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 19, 2015

June 23, 2015 Posted by | Gun Violence, Mass Shootings, Rick Perry | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Guns, Race, And Fox News’ Pathological Denial”: Conservative Media Desperately Searching For Political Cover

Like frantic shoppers running down a last-minute list, Fox News talkers last week desperately tried to cobble together an inventory of reasons why racist gunman Dylann Roof may not have been primarily motivated by racism.

As the conservative media anxiously and collectively searched for political cover, Fox News hosts and guests offered up an array of illogical explanations: Maybe the Charleston, S.C. church killing was an attack on Christians. Maybe it was an attack on South Carolina. Maybe political correctness was to blame. Or “diversity.” Maybe pastors should be armed. (In any case, Fox Newsers agreed, President Obama was being very, very “divisive” regarding the matter.)

On and on, the alternative explanations were offered up in the face of overwhelming evidence that Roof allegedly had set out to kill as many black people as possible because he wanted to start a “race war.” Period. And the way Roof allegedly chose to do that was to open fire, and then reload, in the basement of the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, killing the pastor and eight parishioners.

Like so many Americans, Fox News has been reeling in the wake of the massacre, except reeling in a different way. While Americans recoiled from the raw hate behind the gun rampage, Fox News wrestled with bouts of pathological denial.

Indeed, for Fox News and much of the conservative media, the horrific killings in South Carolina represented a political challenge because the act of mass murder revolved around two topics Fox News has long insisted don’t really afflict America, or don’t require pressing action: Racism and gun violence. That denial has made it nearly impossible for Fox to address the shooting in any coherent way.

For years, Fox News and conservatives have routinely tried to underplay gun violence and even horrific bouts of mass murders — like the Sandy Hook school massacre — insisting the issue represents a “distraction” or a “red herring” touted by liberals to shift the nation’s attention away from truly pressing problems, like the national debt.

But the “distraction” spin is absurd. As Chuck Todd noted on Meet The Press, “50 Americans since 9/11 have been killed in terrorist attacks. We’re up to nearly 400,000 people since 9/11 have been killed by firearms.”

Meanwhile, if current projections hold, for the first time modern American history more people will die in 2015 from gun violence than from automobile accidents. Roughly 20,000 Americans kill themselves each year using firearms. And as Bloomberg News reported, the financial cost of U.S. gun violence in terms of lost work, medical care, insurance, court costs and pain and suffering amounted to nearly $175 billion in 2010.

Despite the avalanche of data, Fox News has led the charge to dismiss the importance of addressing gun safety, and has been especially ruthless in attacking advocates trying to pass new legislation. That hardened political opposition helps explain why the cable channel has been desperately searching for ways to explain away the shocking South Carolina mass murder.

Fox and conservatives have been even more adamant over the years in insisting that Democrats, liberals and minorities over-hype the issue of racism. For instance, on his Forbes.com blog, Peter Ferrara of the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based conservative think tank, reported in 2013 that “racist attitudes” no longer “have any power or influence in American society.” Indeed, The Wall Street Journal editorial page last week casually announced that institutionalized racism no longer exists.

Racism, like climate change, is denied as part of the larger conservative political reality.

Like Prohibition and the Wild West, racism apparently represents a distant chapter in America’s past and is now filed under “archaeology,” as Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin dismissively put it last year while attacking Obama for addressing the issue at all. (Rubin claimed Americans are “held prisoners forever in a past that most Americans have never personally experienced.”)

Why the rising chorus of racism deniers under Obama? It fits a larger, right-wing political agenda. “Some on the right are deeply invested in the idea that anti-black racism is no longer much of a problem in the United States, and certainly not a problem on the scale of false accusations of racism,” wrote Michelle Goldberg at the Daily Beast.

Added Zack Beauchamp at Vox last week: “basically, the fact that America’s got a Democratic, black president means Republicans have grown more skeptical that structural racism is a huge, enduring problem.” The result? “It’s very difficult for Republicans to talk about racism as a serious, enduring problem without alienating a real part of the base.”

The same, of course, goes for Fox News and not wanting to alienate its loyal viewership base. And so in recent years we’ve heard Bill O’Reilly announce, “We are not a racist nation. […] Fair-minded Americans should be deeply offended, deeply offended that their country is being smeared with the bigotry brush.” Steve Doocy declared, “I don’t know that Barack Obama could have been elected president if he was living in a racist nation.”

And there was this from Fox’s Eric Bolling [emphasis added]:

It’s getting tiring. We have a black president, we have black senators, we have black heads of captains of business, companies. We have black entertainment channels. Where — is there racism? I don’t think there’s racism. The only people perpetuating racism are people like this gentleman from the NAACP, are the Al Sharptons of the world. Let’s move on. Let’s move on.

Let’s move on? Tell that to the people of Charleston.

 

By: Eric Boehlert, Sr. Fellow, Media Matters for America; The Blog, The Huffington Post, June 22, 2015

June 23, 2015 Posted by | Fox News, Gun Violence, Racism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Whatever Did It, It’s Done”: I Wouldn’t Go To Sleep On The South Carolina Legislature Until The Change Is Consummated

So today SC Gov. Nikki Haley and both Republican U.S. Senators finally changed positions and called for the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag that flies on the Statehouse grounds at a Confederate memorial. This is not some sort of profile in courage. Similar steps have been taken in other southern states (Mississippi joins South Carolina as the remaining states subject to a NCAA post-season boycott the NAACP requested). The “compromise” in 2000 that moved the Battle Flag from the top of the State Capital to the Statehouse grounds, making it the first thing many visitors saw when in the vicinity, wasn’t remotely enough.

It’s nicely ironic that Dylann Roof’s hopes of inciting a race war with his terrorist attack on Emanuel AME Church instead led to this symbolic but significant act. I suspect the prime mover in this development aside from simple shame was the agony of the national GOP, whose presidential candidates were being forced to deal with an issue that divided “the base” in an early primary state from the rest of the country.

My own basic feeling as a long-time opponent of Confederate insignia as a profanation of my native Southland (I was actually born not far from the flag in question in Columbia) is reminiscent of the reaction of the cartoonist Thomas Nast to Grover Cleveland’s breakthrough presidential victory in 1884 (the first Democratic win since 1856). Nast cited a lot of explanations of “what did it,” and then concluded: “Whatever did it, it’s done.” Or so it seems, at least; I wouldn’t go to sleep on the South Carolina legislature until the change is consummated.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 22, 2015

June 23, 2015 Posted by | Confederacy, Confederate Flag, South Carolina Legislature | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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