The massacre of nine African American parishioners by a white male at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last week cried out for leadership on gun violence, racism and the Confederate flag, which still flies on capitol grounds in South Carolina. Republicans once again found themselves in the awkward position of fearing to irritate their own party powerful by speaking truth to power. Jeb Bush “didn’t know if this was racism.” Marco Rubio ignored Charleston in a speech but praised the second amendment. Lindsay Graham said this murderer was “looking for Christians to kill.” As author and commentator Anita Finlay noted, “Only Ben Carson had the courage to name this attack for the race-based hate crime that it was. The others stuck a finger in the air to see which way the wind was blowing.”
Political strategist and author Shawna Vercher stated that “When candidates say an issue is about “state’s rights, they are punting, because they don’t want to answer. But that is not showing leadership.” Republicans undoubtedly are sensitive to the racism charge because their opposition to President Obama has very often been labeled as such – fairly or not, in each case. However, to hide from the obvious truth in the Charleston tragedy only diminishes their credibility further, threatening to prove the very charge they so vehemently deny.
Vercher notes Republicans still have an opportunity to show leadership on these issues, but have a lot of catching up to do. As WaPo’s Jonathan Capehart wrote:
“Anyone who wants to be seriously considered for president of the United States must take race and racism seriously. He must be ready to discuss both with the thoughtfulness they require and be ready to offer solutions that can be implemented. I say “He” because the only viable woman in the race for the White House already has it covered.”
Shamefully, some mainstream media outlets assist these candidates in sweeping this issue under the rug. Shawna Vercher and Anita Finlay discuss this and more in a hard hitting episode of Dare We Say.