Editorial: Long road to ease tensions in US, SA

Racial tensions continue to simmer in the US following the killing of five police officers by a gunman in Dallas last week – a massacre, in turn, prompted by the death of two black men, ordinary citizens, at the hands of gun-toting police.

Protests against police brutality have now been staged in many cities, not all of them peaceful, and support for the Black Lives Matter campaign shows no signs of diminishing.

The crazy acts of violence being seen in a country that promotes itself as the very model of peace, democracy and unity to the rest of the world are deeply troubling.

It is clear that racism remains very much a fact of life there, never mind that slavery was abolished centuries ago and that the civil rights movement achieved the outlawing of racial segregation some 50 years ago.

Many Americans are already fearful and jittery over increased terror attacks on their home soil.

The newest race-driven incidents on top of that will have done little to reassure them. And the more afraid Americans get, the more they seem to want their guns; the more many insist on their right to arm themselves.

It is no wonder that gun control remains a very touchy subject in the States.

Here in our own country, however, we have first-hand proof that gun control works.

An SA Medical Council study published last month showed fewer people are being shot dead here, thanks to stricter gun legislation.

But, while we have come a long way, South Africa, for all its Rainbow Nation selflabelling, is far from perfect when it comes to national unity and tolerance.

Ugliness like the Penny Sparrow incident continue to remind us deep divisions remain and that much more introspection still needs to happen for us to become a truly unified nation.

We’ve also had to deal with the issue of excessive force by police. Marikana may have happened nearly four years ago, but for many the wounds remain fresh.

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