Efter skoleskyderi i Oregon

Barack Obama

  • År: 2015
  • Sted: Det Hvide Hus, Washington, USA

Analyseret af
Emil Tarp Vang

“Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine.”

Hvorfor er denne tale interessant?

Barack Obamas tale er er et godt eksempel på en tale, der indgår i en særdeles kompliceret retorisk situation. Anledningen er et skoleskyderi, så de fleste forventer nok en taler, der mindes de dræbte og sender et budskab om håb til de tilskadekomne og pårørende. Obama benytter i stedet anledningen til at tale meget kritisk om den amerikanske våbenlovgivning, og talen bliver dermed et næsten politisk partsindlæg. Våbenlovgivningen er dog et område, hvor den amerikanske befolkning er ekstremt splittet, hvilket giver Obama en stor udfordring i situationen.

Desuden er det værd at bide mærke i Barack Obamas stemmeføring, rolige tempo og lange pauser, og på hvor stor en effekt det har på oplevelsen af talen. Det er noget, enhver taler kan lade sig inspirere af.

Den retoriske situation

Den 1. oktober 2015 bryder en 26-årig mand ind på på UCC campus i Oregon i USA og skyder en professor og otte studerende, hvorefter han skyder sig selv.

Barack Obama holder samme dag en tale for den amerikanske nation om episoden. Talen bærer præg af, at 2015 var et år med særligt mange masseskyderier i USA. Obama har blot tre måneder tidligere talt til nationen efter et masseskyderi i Chattanooga, og han blot en måned før den tale holdt han en lignende tale efter et andet masseskyderi i en kirke i Charleston. Obama taler sig altså ind i en kompleks retorisk situation, fordi der i USA er stor uenighed om, hvordan gun-violence-konflikten skal løses. Obama efterlyser gang på gang regulering af den amerikanske grundlov, mens hans modstandere står fast på deres 2nd amendment, som grundlovssikrer deres ukrænkelige ret til at bære og eje skydevåben.

There’s been another mass shooting in America -- this time, in a community college in Oregon.

That means there are more American families -- moms, dads, children -- whose lives have been changed forever. That means there’s another community stunned with grief, and communities across the country forced to relieve their own anguish, and parents across the country who are scared because they know it might have been their families or their children.

I’ve been to Roseburg, Oregon. There are really good people there. I want to thank all the first responders whose bravery likely saved some lives today. Federal law enforcement has been on the scene in a supporting role, and we’ve offered to stay and help as much as Roseburg needs, for as long as they need.

In the coming days, we’ll learn about the victims -- young men and women who were studying and learning and working hard, their eyes set on the future, their dreams on what they could make of their lives. And America will wrap everyone who’s grieving with our prayers and our love.

But as I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America -- next week, or a couple of months from now.

We don't yet know why this individual did what he did. And it's fair to say that anybody who does this has a sickness in their minds, regardless of what they think their motivations may be. But we are not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses or want to do harm to other people. We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months.

Earlier this year, I answered a question in an interview by saying, “The United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense gun-safety laws -- even in the face of repeated mass killings.” And later that day, there was a mass shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. That day! Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We've become numb to this.

We talked about this after Columbine and Blacksburg, after Tucson, after Newtown, after Aurora, after Charleston. It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun.

And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun safety laws.

Does anybody really believe that? There are scores of responsible gun owners in this country --they know that's not true. We know because of the polling that says the majority of Americans understand we should be changing these laws - including the majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America. So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer? We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don't work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence.

We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours -- Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.

And, of course, what’s also routine is that somebody, somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic. I would ask news organizations -- because I won't put these facts forward -- have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports. This won't be information coming from me; it will be coming from you. We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?

This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense.

So, tonight, as those of us who are lucky enough to hug our kids a little closer are thinking about the families who aren't so fortunate, I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save lives, and to let young people grow up. And that will require a change of politics on this issue. And it will require that the American people, individually, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or an independent, when you decide to vote for somebody, are making a determination as to whether this cause of continuing death for innocent people should be a relevant factor in your decision. If you think this is a problem, then you should expect your elected officials to reflect your views.

And I would particularly ask America’s gun owners -- who are using those guns properly, safely, to hunt, for sport, for protecting their families -- to think about whether your views are properly being represented by the organization that suggests it's speaking for you.

And each time this happens I'm going to bring this up. Each time this happens I am going to say that we can actually do something about it, but we're going to have to change our laws. And this is not something I can do by myself. I've got to have a Congress and I've got to have state legislatures and governors who are willing to work with me on this.

I hope and pray that I don't have to come out again during my tenure as President to offer my condolences to families in these circumstances. But based on my experience as President, I can't guarantee that. And that's terrible to say. And it can change.

May God bless the memories of those who were killed today. May He bring comfort to their families, and courage to the injured as they fight their way back. And may He give us the strength to come together and find the courage to change.

Det siger retorikerne:

Det overordnede formål med talen er en gang for alle at overbevise befolkningen om, at en lovændring er nødvendig, hvis denne type angreb skal forhindres i fremtiden. Talens formål er derved en påmindelse om, at magten ligger hos folket, og at de bør overveje, om deres holdninger bliver repræsenteret af dem, de stemmer på. Selve italesættelsen af de dræbte og det angreb, der er anledningen til talen fylder ret lidt. En genknytning af samfundets tråde er det grundlæggende formål med denne type mindetale, men i denne tale rykker genknytningen af samfundet dog ned og får anden prioritet. I stedet er Obamas politiske formål i højsædet.

Det umiddelbare publikum til talen er en sal fyldt med pressefolk, men talen bliver også live-transmitteret via TV til hele USAs befolkning. Denne befolkning er som nævnt ovenfor meget splittede, når det kommer til diskussionen om våben. En stor del af den amerikanske befolkning er nemlig glødende modstandere af enhver form for moderation af våbenlovgivningen. Denne del af befolkningen bliver primært repræsenteret af det republikanske parti, som med National Rifle Association (NRA) i ryggen foreslår, at løsningen på konflikten kan være, at folket bør have flere våben. Det giver Obama udfordringer, når han skal tale, da mange tilhørere potentielt vil stejle, når han begynder at tale om at ændre våbenlovgivningen. Obama indtager muligvis af samme årsag en talerposition, der er meget fattet - grænsende til det opgivende eller skuffede. Tryk avler som bekendt modtryk, og derfor er det en velvalgt måde at fremføre talen på. Den ret nedtonede actio har sandsynligvis også både noget at gøre med den tragiske anledning for talen, men også det at talen bliver sendt i fjernsynet og altså ikke bliver holdt foran et live-publikum.

Talen som en genrehybrid

Som nævnt i indledningen er denne tales genreperspektiv ret interessant. Anledningen foreskriver en følelsesladet mindetale. Talen åbnes også som en klassisk mindetale, men ret tidligt laver Obama et genreskift, som bliver markeret af stykket: “But as I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough.” Det markerer skiftet fra en forventelig mindetale til en mere overraskende politisk tale. Vi kan altså arbejde med denne tale som en genrehybrid mellem lejlighedstalen (den epideiktiske genre) og en mere politisk tale (den deliberative genre). Når talen lakker mod enden, begynder den igen at lyde mere som en mindetale, hvilket giver den en slags hjem-ude-hjem-karakter.

Vores vurdering af talen

Om denne tale er vellykket eller ej kommer selvfølgelig an på, hvordan man definerer vellykket. Den klassisk retoriske måde at vurdere det på er at se på talens effekt. Når talen sine mål? Der må svaret desværre blive nej. Retten til våben er ikke blevet begrænset siden talen. Tværtimod har våbenpolitik ikke engang rigtig været på dagsordenen i den nyligt afsluttede valgkamp. Donald Trump blev endda valgt som præsident efter en valgkamp, der må siges at være blevet sunget i en anden toneart end denne tale af Obama.

Obama tager nogle umiddelbart velovervejede retoriske beslutninger i sin tale, som fx at forsøge at bryde rutinen fra sine tre tidligere mindetaler og sammenligne gun-violence-konflikten med andre dele af samfundet, men det virkede simpelthen ikke. En af grundene er selvsagt, at der er store kræfter på spil, som kæmper imod regulering af våbenlovgivningen. En anden grund kunne også være, at flere af Obamas argumenter simpelthen er for nemme for modstanderne at være uenige i. Bare idéen om at udnytte denne mindetale som springbræt til at sætte gang i gun-control-diskussionen forudsætter, at man ser en sammenhæng mellem de to, hvilket ikke er tilfældet i et splittet USA.

Vores vurdering er altså, at talen på trods af gode retoriske og stilistiske beslutninger ikke formår at tvinge sig vej ind til de stålfaste våbenglade amerikanere og derfor ender med ikke rigtig at flytte noget - udover likes i Europa.

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