OH, WHAT A WEEK! By CAMERON DUODU
The Ghanaian Times 23 June 2015
IS it really possible that the country that has twice voted for a Black President – in the person of Barack Obama – can still harbour in its ranks, White people who are so ravaged by hatred for Black people that they can walk into a church, sit quietly with the congregation for over an hour, and then stand up calmly to shoot nine of them dead – in cold blood?
It is precisely such a thing that happened in Charleston, South Carolina, on 17 June 2015, when a 21-year-old Whiteman called Dylann Roof, committed an act of murder so wanton in nature that neither America nor the world can quite get its head round it.
A photograph posted on a website with a racist manifesto showed Roof brandishing a “Confederate Flag” that US racists have adopted as a banner for their wish for the “resumption” of the American Civil War, in which the country’s “South” fought against the “North” over whether the horrendous system of enslaving Black people should be allowed to continue.
For Black people, the “Confederate Flag” conjures up ghastly images of lynchings and other inhuman practices that were part and parcel of slavery. But despite the fact that the US Constitution says that “All men are created equal”, White American politicians are so pusillanimous that they have allowed one Southern state — South Carolina — to fly the ignominious flag over its Capitol building. The Governor now says the flag will be taken down. But it has done its work already, in as far as it has inspired someone to murder nine human beings he did not even know. [See Update Below]
Although the brutal nature of Roof’s crime is acknowledged by the US media, reaction to the crime has shown once again that American society is ridden to the hilt with hypocrisy over race issues. For instance, whilst telecasting a discussion of the murder on Meet The Press on 21 June 2015, NBC TV managed to insert a clip in which a Blackman who was in prison for murder tearfully confessed his regret at having pulled a trigger to take the life of a fellow human being. Now, what was the relevance of that to a heinous mowing down of nine Black people by a Whiteman?
It was as if they were standing the story on its head and blaming Black murderers for what had happened at Charleston! Are NBC TV producers so asinine and insensitive that they couldn’t see the insulting fallacy in what they were doing? It was as if Marshall MacLuhan (“The Medium Is The Message”) had never existed, and that if you are talking about guns and murder, any clip would do!
Now, NBC TV is one of the most respected national networks in the US. So if they behaved in this way, just imagine what the lunatic-fringe networks (such as Fox) would have been doing with the story.
Even worse, the Director of the FBI, James Comey managed to to specify, publicly, that Roof’s crime was not what the Bureau would classify as “terrorism” or a “terrorist act”. At a press conference in Baltimore on 20th June 2015, Comey said the FBI was currently investigating whether or not Roof committed a “hate crime”, but not “terrorism.” “Terrorism”, according to Comey, “ is [an] act of violence done or threatens to (sic) in order to try to influence a public body or citizenry, so it’s more of a political act and again, based on what I know, so more (sic) I don’t see it as a political act.”
I beg Comey’s pardon? if a guy who brandishes the “Confederate Flag” and espouses a racist manifesto is not carrying out a “political act”, then what is a “political act”? I am afraid Comey’s comment would have played into the way America’s power structure routinely characterises racist crimes.
If Roof had been a Muslim who posted pictures of himself wielding an al-Qaeda flag on a website, the FBI would have been on to him before he could shoot anyone. The FBI might even have set him up for arrest and prosecution by mounting a “sting operation” on him (as it has done with several other Muslim “terrorist suspects” in the past.)
But racist violence? That’s low on the priority list of the FBI, hence the pervasive continuation of White police “turkey shoots” of Black people, that have become the “new normal”. These crimes have hitherto not merited the full intervention of the FBI as a national emergency that musty be ruthlessly uprooted by Federal law enforcement. Indeed, White police murderers of Blacks must know, before they commit their murders, that White State Prosecutors in many States would not prosecute them vigorously; or that even if they did, few White-majority juries and White judges would find them guilty of the most serious crime with which they could be charged – first-degree murder. The absence of deterrence equals the multiplication of crime, doesn’t it?
Maybe I am being harsh, but I noticed that although President Obama displayed the right body language, and also said the right things in his first comment on the Charleston murders, he did not wear a black tie during his TV appearance in which he spoke on the murders. Was it because — as some have asserted — he wants to keep affirming the notion that his is a “race-less” presidency? Such a posture, if it really exists, would remind one of the Lord Kitchener calypso song: “If you’re not white, you can say that Blck!”
I was also appalled by the way the media extracted from the relatives of the dead, who were still in deep shock over losing their beloved ones, statements to the effect that they “forgave” Roof for his hideous crime. Pour encourager les autres? a French speaker might ask (meaning: forgive him so that others might be encouraged to do the same thing? How inane.)
Another thing – and this goes back to the point I made earlier about the NBC TV clip about shootings in general – discussion of crimes like that at Charleston must differentiate the subject from the general debate about gun control, lest such crimes become accepted as an immutable aspect of American “culture”. We do know that the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the gun lobby are not going to vanish overnight, but The difference between gun murder in general and racist murders is that many of the Blacks who are killed by policemen are the victims of racists who are – anyhow – legitimately permitted to wear guns as part of their job of protecting the public, but who abuse that legitimacy, in order to carry out criminal turkey shoots of Black people.
To equate the gratuitous murder of Blacks by such racist White policemen with those of ordinary murderers – both Black and White – who are able to lay hands on guns easily because of lax gun laws — is to codify, a priori, a legal sleight of hand which exonerates the murderous White policemen in advance. All citizens, alike, look to these policemen for protection, by dint of the fact that law enforcement officers are paid with everyone’s taxes. And such an exoneration in advance is not only unconstitutional in the US but also patently puts the lives of Black people at risk every second of every minute of every hour of every day.
That’s why to conflate the two issues in a facile manner is — arguably — to encourage White police murder of Blacks. The two crimes both end in loss of life, but they are different social phenomena that must be separated in order that the one — a general disease — may not be used to lessen the uniqueness of the other, which is a specific crime in every sense of the word.
Nikki Haley Calls For Confederate Flag To Be Removed From South Carolina Capitol
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) called for the Confederate flag to be removed from the state capitol.
“That flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state,” Haley said Monday.
Haley argued that many South Carolinians see the Confederate flag as a way to respect their ancestors, but argued Dylann Roof, who was charged with murdering nine people in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, last week, “has a sick and twisted view of the flag.”
Haley said there’s no need to “declare a winner and a loser” or interpret the flag in any one way, noting South Carolinians are free to fly the Confederate flag on their personal property if they so choose.
“But the statehouse is different, and the events of this past week call on us to look at this in a different way,” she said.
Haley spoke at a press conference at 4 p.m. ET Monday. In her remarks, she mentioned both the Charleston church shooting and the killing of Walter Scott, arguing those incidents don’t reflect the progress of the state.
“On matters of race, South Carolina has a tough history. We all know that,” Haley said.
Haley said she would call a special legislative session if South Carolina lawmakers don’t take up the issue of the Confederate flag this session.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and others joined the governor in calling for the flag to come down. Graham previously said the flag “is part of who we are,” but that he would be “fine” with taking the symbol down.
“After the tragic, hate-filled shooting in Charleston, it is only appropriate that we deal once and for all with the issue of the flag,” Graham said in a statement Monday.
Debate over the flag was reignited after the shooting at the Charleston church last week. When flags were lowered to half-staff in remembrance of those who were killed, the Confederate flag — which has flown next to the Confederate Soldier’s Monument since 2000, when it was removed from atop the South Carolina capitol dome — didn’t budge, because it’s held in place by a padlock. By law, the flag couldn’t be removed.
Several politicians have weighed in on the flag, with 2012 presidential rivals Mitt Romney (R) and President Barack Obama agreeing that the flag should come down. Some South Carolina politicians had a different take, with Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), who attended Haley’s press conference on Monday, saying removing the flag “should not be the immediate solution.”
This post has been updated to include Haley’s remarks.
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SODOM AND GOMORRAH
The brutally inhuman way in which the authorities of the Accra Metropolitan City Council, backed by the Central Government, have treated the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah in Accra, is a disgraceful demonstration of the fact that our current rulers are very cynical indeed.
For what they have clearly is to capitalise on the revulsion felt by the public against those whose thoughtless acts of clogging and silting up gutters, caused such a tragic loss of life in the recent floods, to perpetrate an injustice against the slum-dwellers.
Now, no-one will dispute the fact that some of the slum-dwellers had erected both homes and commercial kiosks in waterways, and had thus contributed to the flooding of the area. But was it every structure pulled down in the area that stood in the way of flowing water and therefore deserved to be demolished? The people obviously don’t think so.
That aside, what a Government that respects its moral duty of care to its citizenry ought to have done would have been to get town engineers to demarcate and mark with red chalk, the structures that specifically contribute to flooding. Then accommodation should have been found for the inhabitants, and those willing to move, evacuated before sending the bulldozers in.
As it is – and remember we are in the rainy season – where are the homeless to go?
Of course, we all know that our Government is broke and, moreover, has borrowed money up to its neck. So carrying out any meaningful resettlement would be difficult for it to do at this time in any case – even if it wanted to.
Nevertheless, if it had drawn up an attractive practical plan and tried to sell it to the people, some of the slum-dwellers (at least) would have co-operated with the plans.
You see, the demonstration effect of providing modern one or two-room houses to people who live in shacks cannot be over-emphasised. We have the evidence before our very eyes: in Accra, the old “estate houses” at Labadi, Osu, Kaneshie and elsewhere were all meant to prevent the growth of slums in the metropolis, and people fought over them. Tema, Kumase and Takoradi also had their share. The work of the colonialists was embraced and expanded greatly by the Ghana Housing Corporation.
Mr John Dramani Mahama would do well to remember that his father belonged to a Convention People’s Party (CPP) Government which sometimes exhibited admirable humanitarian concerns for the welfare of the people. For example, when it realised in advance that the Akosombo Dam would cause massive flooding and create “the largest man-made lake in the world”, it planned new townships for the people who would be displaced.
Of course, not everyone liked the houses given to them (mainly because they were not based on our traditional concept of “the compound house” but, rather ignorantly, on the modern idea of one/two-bedroom houses which are alien to many Ghanaians’ desire to interact constantly with other members of their extended families.
Well, I can tell the Government that the displaced people of Sodom and Gomorrah will be watching keenly to see whether the real reason for moving them so precipitately — and in such an opportunistic manner to boot — is to make the vacated lands available to the “business cliques” that now rule the country.
I hope not!