Last July after the ‘Batman’ killings I wrote the blog below. Most of what I wrote is still relevant although fortunately Obama was re-elected instead of a total fruitcake.
However, the killing fields just get worse. Sandy Hook just features as a minor upward blip in the statistics. But surely even in the US of A they can feel the terrible, terrible way in which youngsters have been killed and their families blighted. Since then more than 600 more people have been slain by guns in the ‘Land of the Free’. The response from the totally insane NRA leadership is predictably more guns. They claim that the only thing that will stop bad people killing is to give good people guns,. WRONG the only way to stop the senseless slaughter of innocents is a ban on guns. Let’s face some facts:
Allowing for the size of the population you are 50 times more likely to be murdered by guns in America than in the UK. You are 70 times more likely to die of suicide or accident in America than in the UK. Our rates are low because few of us keep a gun. Those that do are carefully controlled and usually know how to use them which minimises accidents.
This reminds me of a conversation I had with an American in Senegal recently. He was a worker for a Republican foundation helping bring democracy to Africa. “Shouldn’t you start in Florida?” I asked! He didn’t really understand the point!
America is now is the position that we were in 40 years ago. Then we still thought that we were a world power – they still do. But the times have moved on. America can no longer be the gun toting saviours of the World. If they want to be respected they will have to lead by example and practice what they preach. A country where the right to basic health is denied, a country which casually accepts slaughter on its streets in the name of Freedom is no partner of the UK and is no fitting example to the World.
God help America
Let me be about upfront about this. I have never believed that there exists a ‘special relationship’ with America. I know many American people, have visited their country on several occasions and have American friends. But one can only question their claim to be the “Land of the brave and the home of the free”, when they come close to electing buffoons like Mitt Romney.
So what does Mr Romney think of our Country? We are, apparently, a small island with small houses that doesn’t make things that people want! Well partly true! We are not huge in size and some of us do live in terraced houses because we fit a lot of people onto our land mass but what a dismissal of the Worlds 7th or 8th largest economy.
He came to London yesterday and showed no comprehension of how we govern ourselves, what our values were and questioned our preparedness for running the Olympics. We can ask questions about how the Olympics are going but it just is not the sort of thing that a guest muses publicly! What was this Mr Leader stuff – does he think we are a soviet republic?
It would be risible if Romney wasn’t the latest in a line of Republican half wits. Sarah Plain knew all about Russia because she could see it from her home in Alaska and thought Africa was a Country. George Bush Junior only got elected because his brother had effectively rigged the electoral register to preclude many Democrat voters from voting at all.
And the face of America that we see is a very low grade culture indeed. Crap TV programmes and ‘food like McDonalds’ and KFC’ which is leading to massive obesity problems first in America and now in other parts of the world.
It doesn’t need to be this way. I stayed awake the night that Obama got elected. I thrilled as he strode out into that Chicago Park to receive the cheers as the first black man elected in America. I thought, and still think, that under his leadership America really could lead the World, starting with his own country, towards a more rational foreign intervention policy of aid and support and not war and death.
But even more since he did get elected I have wondered whether America really can be changed or should just be ignored. I ask myself how a Country which claims to be Christian can have massive debates about whether poor people should be entitled to decent health facilities. I know we have our differences of opinion here but no-one disputes the fact that the Government should provide free first time service to anyone of our citizens who needs it.
Last week we saw the biggest possible difference between our two countries in the response to the shooting tragedy at the cinema showing the latest Batman film. More people bought guns after the shooting than before. The fact is that you are 100 times more likely to get killed by a gun in America than you are in the UK. Other murder rates are also considerably higher than our own. We had two shooting tragedies and tightened the gun ownership laws they have loads of tragedies every day and loosen theirs.
This example alone shows a very different mind set between Americans and our European partners.
My fervent hope is that Obama wins again in November. The thought of a prejudiced bigot becoming the Leader of a Country which claims a common heritage to our own is quite repugnant. If there is a bridge across the Atlantic between the UK and America I hope it is a drawbridge. Because if Romney wins I fervently hope that we will draw it up and cut them off!