With the nation mourning the victims of the Charleston church massacre and observing the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, the June 16th commemoration of slave emancipation, there's no better time to confront the toxic influences of racism and easy access to guns that came together this week. "We can't accept events like this as routine," said President Obama. Actually, that was what he said after Newtown, several mass shootings ago. This time the president was, rightfully, angrier and wearier. "I've had to make statements like this too many times," he said, noting that "at some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries." That reckoning should happen now -- right now -- even as the Confederate flag continues to shamefully fly at full mast above the South Carolina state house.
I think a lot today about Utoya, as the headlines report about Charleston. Very different disasters, very different criminal acts, so convenient in an open society. Where one has so much opportunity to harm, and far less urgency to do good. Where hospitality is practiced, and sanctuary a distant dream.
This month marked the two-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook elementary school tragedy in Newtown, Conn., in 2012. In a report on State Mental Health Legislation in 2014, NAMI noted that on the first anniversary of the tragedy last year, Americans could see progress flowing from both the White House Conference on Mental Health and state legislation. This year, progress has slowed.