Monday, June 22, 2015

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 6/19/2015

"Shields & Brooks on church shooting, Pope’s environmentalism" PBS NewsHour 6/19/2015


SUMMARY:  From a racial hate crime that rocked the nation, to the Pope’s call for action on climate change, there has been no shortage of issues to spark national debate and discussion this week.  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks discuss these topics and more.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  So, another terrible race-related story to talk about, this horrible shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, David, where a young white man killed nine black churchgoers.

How — what are we left with?  I mean, is this an isolated — should we think of this as an isolated incident, a racist young man, or do we — or does the whole country need to do some soul-searching?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times:  Yes.

First, we should mention that the uplifting part of this story, of this terrible story is what happened today in the courtroom, the families forgiving the young man in such a heartfelt and heartrending way.  Mark and I were talking before that is living the faith, that is walking the walk.

And we have a society and certainly a politics filled with people who aren’t forgiving each other, filled with vengeance.  Well, that speech should be seared in our minds.  And so that was an uplifting moment today…


DAVID BROOKS:  … which wasn’t all negative.

The horror is the horror.  I confess, I’m a little confused about how much to generalize.  We have a race problem in this country.  That is so obvious.  But we also have an angry solitary young man problem.  And I’m not sure a lot of the angry solitary young men are directly connected.

They are obviously loosely connected to the history of race in this country.  But they are angry solitary young men looking for hateful and vicious ideologies.  Some of them turn into neo-Nazi skinheads.  I don’t think we have a Nazi problem in this country.  They are solitary and they’re hate-mongers.  And the guy sits with the Bible study group for an hour and then starts shooting them.  That’s beyond — beyond imagination.

And so I — it’s obviously connected, but I’m a little wary of the too pat causations that are linked between our general race problem and this specific, completely bizarre, and completely evil incident.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  How are you seeing this?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated columnist:  I just want to underscore what David said about those people in the courtroom today and them saying, may God have mercy on you, and I forgive you.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  It was extraordinary.

MARK SHIELDS:  It is.  These are people of faith.  These are people who do practice their faith.  And it’s a lot more than preaching.

What hit me, Judy, was President Obama, who some of his greatest and most eloquent moments have been at times of crisis and tragedy and sort of putting things in perspective, how yesterday almost seemed — making the announcement, dispirited and a sense of resignation.

And there was a little feeling, I think.  For example, after the Birmingham church in 1963, when the four little girls were blown up in Sunday school, there was a moment in the country.  You could feel it, an inflection moment, where we moved on civil rights.  The passage of the 1964 act was almost assured by that terrible, terrible, inhuman act.

But that was — so there was a sense that we were moving in a direction.  After Newtown and after the slaughter of the innocents there and the teachers, where 90 percent of Americans endorsed a background check, three-quarters of NRA members, according to polls, endorsed universal background checks, and nothing happened.


MARK SHIELDS:  On guns.  And nothing happened.

There’s a sense of, how many more, the enormity of it, what’s it going to take?  And so I just think there was a — there was really just sort of a sadness that permeated everything.  And for him to sit — for this alleged killer to sit there for an hour while these people welcome him into their church and the Bible study, and then to do it, I mean, it’s beyond comprehension.

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