PHOTO: Worshippers after Wednesday’s shootings at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s shootings at an African American church in South Carolina which killed nine people, I was asked by BBC WM Radio this morning to consider the state of the American Dream.

Beginning with the question of why Americans might think they are exceptional, the discussion includes specific issues such as gun control, race, health care, and “prosperity”.

Listen to discussion from 10:18

When you grow up in the US — whether you’re in Alabama or California or New York — because the country is so big, it is important that you are imbued with the spirit that “We Are All American”. Even though we live thousands of miles apart, and quite often don’t have that much in common with each other, we are all part of this great experiment.

Here in Britain, we have many chants on football terraces. In America, we don’t have that many at sporting events but we always have “We’re Number 1”. For many Americans, this identity is bound up with the notion of the flag and My Country, Right or Wrong.

When you have events, like we have in Charleston and others in the past year — not of unity, but of division — you have to ask yourself, “What is It We Are Upholding as Americans?”

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