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How big must an American massacre be to rate some Presidential consoling? Twelve murdered in the nightmare in Colorado beckoned the President, and rightfully he traveled there to address the stunned survivors and a wounded community.
Seven dead in Oakland in a massacre in April did not rate a visit.
(Although the President will be in Oakland this month, to give a campaign speech at the beautiful Fox Theater, and to raise money in the town of Piedmont, the exclusive municipal island of unimaginable wealth completely surrounded geographically by Oakland.)
Maybe it is out there somewhere, I hope it is, but as for the Oikos University massacre, which took place here in early April of 2012, I can barely find a Federal government statement beyond this boilerplate from the Secretary of Education:
"I was saddened to learn of the senseless violence and loss of life at Oikos University in Oakland. My thoughts are with the community and families of the victims." -- Arne Duncan.
On the other hand, here's some of the White House reaction to Colorado:
"As we do when we are confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come."
-- President Barack Obama
The President dedicated his weekly address to the Colorado massacre, as he should have: Remembering the Victims of the Aroura, Colorado Shooting.
Here is a list of the President's weekly addresses in April 2012:
April 7: Easter and Passover
April 14: It's Time for Congress to Pass the Buffett Rule
April 21: Calling on Congress to Prevent Student Interest Rates from Doubling
April 28: Helping Our Veterans and Servicemembers Make Informed Decisions
about Higher Education
What were the differences between the massacres? The obvious difference is the number. How many must be killed in a day by one crazed gunman to inspire the President to come? I honestly don't know the answer, nor do I know what's right, but I suspect you need to get into the double-digits in deaths. Over the course of each year, Oakland does that easily. Many years we reach the triple digits in killings. Last year there were over 100 homicides here. But it is a slow-motion massacre. It takes too long to spark a visit, a Presidential comment, or even much if any debate about gun laws.
Here's a another difference: unlike in Aurora, Colorado, many of the dead at Oikos were immigrants or foreign nationals, some with unfamiliar-looking names, others with names reflective of our immigrants' historic desire to become American-ized; and they were killed not at a famous university like Virginia Tech, but at an obscure school with a name no one was quite sure how to pronounce. The names of the dead at Oikos:
Grace Eunhae Kim
Otherness is often key to the emotional processing of homicides. Some refuse to separate themselves from the killing and the killed. But in many parts of Oakland, so long as the killed are not like you, you can deal with the shock and sadness quickly and neatly. You might be moved, but only for a moment. The flatlands, the Deep, the lives and deaths of the victims, they are all a foreign country. Same with the dead and wounded at Oikos. And so, as far as I can tell, and again, maybe I am just not finding it out there, the White House had little or nothing to say to us about the slaughter.
But the White House is all over the killings in Colorado, supposedly a swing state, unlike California.