The day after the shooting in Charleston, one of the British tabloids led with the headline “America’s Shame”. Reading that headline, it struck me that describing the actions of a lone, hate-filled shooter as bringing shame upon a nation of 300 million people is, in one sense, really quite extraordinary.
And yet in the context of the US’s history of slavery and racism, the headline didn’t seem that outrageous. Indeed, it is shameful that in America today a young man would shoot nine “nice people” in a Bible study purely because of the colour of their skin. I can’t escape the fact that I am implicated in the shameful actions of my fellow countrymen, particularly as a de facto representative of the US in a foreign country (as I was reminded when my cab driver at midnight last night asked me to explain why the US is “such a violent country”).
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