Obama’s Message Goes Viral After Latest US Shooting. Trump Reacts.

A message to the American nation from its former president Barack Obama has gone viral on social media following the latest US shootings over the weekend, where 80 people were killed or wounded in two attacks. Some of what he said struck a chord with South Africans at home and living in the US.

On Saturday morning in El Pasa, Texas, 20 people were killed and 26 injured, including children, by a shooter at a Walmart store. On early Sunday morning, nine people (including the killer’s sister) were shot dead and 27 injured on a crowded downtown street in Dayton, Ohio.

Writing on Facebook and Twitter (where each message has separately received over 750,000 likes) on Monday, Obama pointed out three main points – the first being that no other nation comes close to experiencing the number of mass shootings as the US, and “no other developed nation tolerates the levels of gun violence that we do”. (Walmart will not be changing its gun sale policy, despite the mass shooting.)

Obama’s second point was that a dangerous trend is being followed of troubled individuals who “embrace racist ideologies and see themselves obligated to act violently to preserve white supremacy. Like the followers of ISIS and other foreign terrorist organizations, these individuals may act alone, but they’ve been radicalized by white nationalist websites that proliferate on the internet.” he called for better law enforcement and internet platform strategies.

Thirdly, in a point that struck many South Africans, Obama said “all of us have to send a clarion call and behave with the values of tolerance and diversity”. He said the nation should “reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments; leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people.”

Obama said: “Such language isn’t new – it’s been at the root of most human tragedy throughout history, here in America and around the world. It is at the root of slavery and Jim Crow, the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.”

President Donald Trump responded on Twitter on Tuesday morning (lunchtime, South African time). He tweeted: “Did George Bush ever condemn President Obama after Sandy Hook? President Obama had 32 mass shootings during his reign. Not many people said Obama is out of Control. Mass shootings were happening before the President even thought about running for Pres.”

In a television broadcast on Monday, Trump said the nation was overcome with “shock and horror and sorrow”. He called the El Pasa shooter a “wicked man” and the Dayton killer a “twisted monster”.

He said the “barbaric slaughters” were an attack upon the nation and a crime against humanity, and stressed that the USA is a “loving nation”.

Trump said he is directing the Department of Justice to propose legislation ensuring that “those who commit hate crimes and mass murders face the DEATH PENALTY – and that this capital punishment be delivered quickly, decisively, and without years of needless delay”.

Trump said: “The First Lady and I join all Americans in praying and grieving for the victims, their families, and the survivors. We will stand by their side FOREVER!”

President Trump added: “We must honor the sacred memory of those we have lost by acting as ONE PEOPLE. Open wounds cannot heal if we are divided. We must seek real, bipartisan solutions that will truly make America safer and better for all.”

Former President Obama said: “Until all of us stand up and insist on holding public officials accountable for changing our gun laws, these tragedies will keep happening…”

In the midst of the tragedy, there were some guardian angels…