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Did Trump really condemn Srinivas Kuchibhotla's killing?

Trump left it to his nation to stand united in 'condemning hate and evil in all its forms'. As the executive head of the US government, Trump failed to live up to his responsibility of condemning this act of blatant hatred and putrid jingoism. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 01, 2017, 12.23 PM (IST) Madhumita Saha

Donald Trump, the president of the United States, opened his address to the joint session of the US Congress by a cursory reference to last week’s shooting in Kansas City of Indian national Srinivas Kuchibhotla. 

For the record, Trump has not apologised on behalf of his country or his people.

He left it to his nation to stand united in “condemning hate and evil in all its forms”. As the executive head of the US government, Trump failed to live up to his responsibility of condemning Kuchibhotla's killing, an act of blatant hatred and putrid jingoism.

The president did not mention the name of the victim either. After all, Mr Kuchibhotla is neither American, nor a hero. He is just another member of the waves of immigrants from the countries of the global South who have travelled to the US to eke out a living. 

No consolation message from the president has reached Kuchibhotla’s family yet. 

The suspect, Adam W Purinton, admitted in court that he shot Kuchibhotla, thinking he was an Iranian. There are thousands of Iranians working and studying all over the US -- why would a Kansas citizen suddenly become so conscious of the presence of an Iranian national in his own town?
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Clearly, the president does not care. His mentioning of the Kansas shooting is perfunctory at best, a face-saving measure to embellish America’s image as the land of law and order.  

“America is strong, America is proud, and America is free,” the president pointed out, but in obfuscating over the recent evidence of jingoism in the US, the president evaded engaging with his own role in stirring up negative emotions among many of his countrymen -- which is what led to the killing of Kuchibhotla.   

The suspect, Adam W Purinton, admitted in court that he shot Kuchibhotla, thinking he was an Iranian. There are thousands of Iranians working and studying all over the US -- why would a Kansas citizen suddenly become so conscious of the presence of an Iranian national in his own town?  

It is virtually universally known that President Trump is committed to painting Iran as a terrorist state. But unlike a responsible leader, Trump deliberately did not distinguish between the Iranian state and common Iranians living in the US. Can the President deny that this consistent blurring of categories is fueling a blanket animosity towards anybody who does not look or speak like a white American?

The death of Kuchibhotla is not an isolated incident of hate crime, it is part of a deeper malice the US is suffering from. The country has high unemployment rates, its people are terrified and confused about terrorism. Under the circumstances, the easy answer the country has found is to obliterate “outsiders”, anybody it considers not American. 

Instead of diffusing culpability for the act, the president needs to address it head on. The United States of America stands at a critical juncture, one at which it needs to recognise the threat insularity poses to the nation's democratic fabric. Otherwise, this slow smouldering hatred towards immigrants will turn into a normalised practice of violence in the US. 

And all future Kuchibhotlas will turn into nameless victims of hate crime in presidential speeches. 

(WION)

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