Friday, June 19, 2015

A Brief View From Hong Kong of a Massacre in Charleston

Today as I rode the metro under Hong Kong's streets and buildings, I looked up at a video monitor and unexpectedly saw Barack Obama:

subway car video screen displaying news of a speech by Barack Obama

Sadly, the news was about the recent massacre in far away Charleston, South Carolina — the latest in a long and all-too-regular stream of mass killings in the U.S.

When similar events in the U.S. have come up in discussions I have had with a variety of people in China, I have often heard bewilderment over why the U.S. has been unable to better address gun violence and why the problem even exists to degree it does in the first place. It seems to put a twist in the concept of "American exceptionalism", especially given how the term is now often used in the U.S. On a related note, The Economist concluded an article about the massacre with a thought-provoking comparison:
Those who live in America, or visit it, might do best to regard [the mass killings] the way one regards air pollution in China: an endemic local health hazard which, for deep-rooted cultural, social, economic and political reasons, the country is incapable of addressing. This may, however, be a bit unfair. China seems to be making progress on pollution.
I am still pondering that one.

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