Salon's Sophia Tesfaye noted Thursday
In the aftermath of a vicious attack on African-American worshippers by a white gunman in a South Carolina church yesterday, Hillary Clinton said it was time for America to be “honest” and “face hard truths about race, violence, guns and division.”
“How many people do we need to see cut down before we act?” she asked, speaking before the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Las Vegas today, according to the National Journal.
The Democratic presidential candidate prayed for the victims before reminding the gathered elected officials of the role public policy plays in American gun violence. “In the days ahead, we will again ask what led to this terrible tragedy and where we as a nation need to go. In order to make sense of it, we have to be honest. We have to face hard truths about race, violence, guns and division,” she said.
Clinton told the crowd that she was shocked by what she called the “crime of hate,” calling a church “the last place we should ever see violence.”
“So as we mourn and as our hearts break a little more, and as we send this message of solidarity that we will not forsake those who have been victimized by gun violence, this time we have to find answers together,” she said.
So far, Clinton is the only 2016 candidate to explicitly call for the reevaluation of guns in America following this mass shooting, although candidates on both sides have explicitly called out the role of racism.
The last phrase or two, "although candidates on both sides have explicitly called out the role of racism," is unnecessary. As of now, Hillary Clinton is the only presidential candidate to have exhibited both the insight and courage to recognize (a portion of that speech, below) the role of both racial hostility and firearm lust.
And she has- thus far- done much more by what she has not said. Without reference to Clinton, Salon's Arthur Chu writes
I get really really tired of hearing the phrase “mental illness” thrown around as a way to avoid saying other terms like “toxic masculinity,” “white supremacy,” “misogyny” or “racism.”
We barely know anything about the suspect in the Charleston, South Carolina, atrocity. We certainly don’t have testimony from a mental health professional responsible for his care that he suffered from any specific mental illness, or that he suffered from a mental illness at all.
Unfortunately, he's going to get more tired. Presidential candidate and Professor of Psychiatry Lindsey Graham commented "I just think he was one of these whacked out kids. I don't think it's anything broader than that." Thoughtful reflection is not something we can expect from Graham, who in September was so terrified by ISIL that he declared "this President needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home."
As South Carolina's senior U.S. Senator, Graham has an interest in assuring Republican voters that the shooting wasn't about the proliferation of guns and not primarily about racial animus. But the mental health dodge, deftly exhibited by Bill O'Reilly while interviewing Montel Williams Thursday evening, will spread. If we can convince ourselves it is an isolated case, no self-examination is necessary, and self-examination is not a pastime most Republican primary voters routinely engage in.