NEW YORK: The United States has gone into full gear in condemning the racist shooting of two Indian engineers in Olathe, Kansas, which took the life of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, on February 22. Following the warm and unique gesture of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback who wrote a letter to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing his regret at the dastardly attack, assuring that Indian nationals are welcome in the state, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson joined the rhetoric of disgust over the incident.
Brownback’s compassionate and warm letter was a reminder how in a world dominated by social media, where tweets now pass for comment and curse, philosophy and plaint, one-to-one heartfelt condolence matters more than trying to gain publicity.
Though President Donald Trump had condemned the attack in Kansas in his address to Congress, there was palpable feeling that not enough was said, or done, in a forthright manner, to warn other Adam Purintons of the world to not shower hatred, show tolerance instead.
The White House seemed to have got that feeling too.
Sean Spicer was more forthright this week after hedging around the issue for long.
“It’s something that I think all Americans should be outraged and disgusted by — and stand up for the principles that unite us, and that’s what the President spoke so eloquently about during his joint address, and made it very clear that while certain policies may divide us as individuals, there are certain principles that can unite us,” Spicer said in a statement.
Spicer didn’t call the shooting of Kuchibhotla and Alok Reddy Madasani a hate crime, but came close to it.
“I think the President — whether it’s the event that happened in Kansas City, other events, the attacks on Jewish community centers that continue to plague us — we saw another report this morning of some unfortunate activity. I think we’ve got to continue to call it out, we’ve got to continue to root it out, we’ve got to continue to engage law enforcement, whatever is the applicable level of law enforcement depending on the event,” Spicer said.
Spicer’s comments are now more in line with the strong condemnation by several lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including California Democrat Congressman Jim Costa, and all the five Indian Americans – Sen. Kamala Harris, And Reps. Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, Pramila Jayapal and Raja Krishnamoorthi.
The State Department too expressed its condolences over the shooting of Kuchibhotla and Madasani, perhaps realizing that the issue was fast spreading terror in American households, combined as it is with almost daily reports now surfacing of a proliferation of hate crimes against minorities.
“Secretary (Rex) Tillerson has made clear to his counterparts our condolences over these killings. They are, it’s important to note, still under investigation by local law enforcement and we’re waiting to see the results of those investigations,” State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement.
Brownback’s letter had made it clear that not just him but Kansas was in grief and shock at the incident.
“The people of Kansas share in my shock and horror. Words cannot express the sorrow that we feel for Srinu’s wife, Sunayana, and his family in Hyderabad,” he wrote.
“In the time since Srinu’s death, we have reflected on his life, and the words I have heard most often to describe him are that he was courageous, and that he loved his family, and that he respected elders. We strive to live in Srinu’s example of courage and love and respect,” wrote Brownback.