The State of the Union address last night revealed in Barack Obama a President who has tried and failed to be a healing leader. When first elected, he swore to oversee America’s social reconstruction. He failed. Instead, he has brought about a deterioration of race relations and greater social strain than we have ever witnessed in two generations.
Throw away the accolades, the awards or the vast number of schools and bridges that will doubtlessly be named after him; Obama’s term in office is stirring racial resentments.
Good Leaders Unite People
I disagree with the politics of the Kennedy brothers and the myth of Camelot that is embedded in President John F. Kennedy’s Administration. Yet I believe that Robert F. Kennedy did his utmost to heal a nation during one of the most troubled times in our history.
The best evidence of this is the speech RFK delivered to a mostly black crowd gathered to hear him in Indianapolis on April 4, 1968. RFK had just learned of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.:
I have some very sad news for all of you, and I think sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.
… For those of you who are black — considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible — you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge…
For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.
… What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another…
Robert Kennedy was beloved by millions, perhaps because he did not live long enough to meet or to disappoint grand expectations.
You would think Obama would emulate RFK. Both were young Senators in the Democratic Party who campaigned hard for the Presidency. Yet unlike Robert Kennedy, Obama has refused to ease racial tensions and has at times inflamed them.
Obama’s Handy Race Card
In contrast to RFK’s message are two occasions when Obama poured gasoline on already simmering racial fires.
The first was in July 2009 when Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested at his home in Cambridge, Mass., by police investigating a possible break-in.
Gates found that the door to his residence was jammed and forced his way through the door, according to The Associated Press. A woman called police, saying she saw “two black males with backpacks on the porch” and that one of them was “wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry.”
When the police arrived, Gates would not come out of the house to talk to them and he refused to explain the circumstances of the apparent break-in. Instead, he became confrontational with police and even initially refused to produce identification.
The Boston Globe reported:
He was booked for disorderly conduct after “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior,” according to a police report. Gates accused the investigating officer of being a racist and told him he had “no idea who he was messing with,” the report said.
Rather than simply ignore a regional news story, Obama was quick to comment: “Now, I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.”
Please, Mr. Obama, let’s not forget the facts you openly admit: that you were not there and that you do not know what role, if any, “race” played in that arrest.
After the truth came out (that Gates was abusive and police were doing their job in protecting his property), you might believe that Obama may not be so eager to personalize another news event whose focus was race. If you thought that, you would have been wrong.
More egregious than Obama’s inserting himself into the Gates’ case were his opinions on the tragic death of black teenager Trayvon Martin one year ago.
Not in dispute is the fatal shooting death of Martin by George Zimmerman on the night of Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. The events of that night grabbed the national spotlight. If we learn the truth of what happened that night, it will be in a Florida courtroom — not from the personal opinions of our President.
But that didn’t stop Obama from weighing in on it. “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” Obama said nearly a month after Martin’s death. “I think [Trayvon's parents] are right to expect that all of us, as Americans, are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and that we’re going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”
Seriously, Mr. President, if you had a son, he would look like Trayvon? If a non-black said there is a resemblance between Martin and the President, I expect he would be accused of being racist.
Moreover, does the Florida judicial system really need to be lectured by the President to take the young man’s death seriously?
Four More Years Of Racial Unrest
Throughout his first term, Obama did not reconcile racial divisions. He seemed to make them worse.
That was admitted last month by Toni Carter, former deputy mayor of Hanover Park, Ill., who said the African-American community had big expectations that racial tensions would be reduced after Obama was elected. She now believes the country has taken a step backward.
“It seems like a lot more people are (angrier) than they were before,” said Carter, who added that she doesn’t expect any improvement in Obama’s second term.
Good race relations are essential to national unity. A competent President would understand this and not see the country splintered. Instead, Obama seems preoccupied with his immediate political agenda and his future place in history.
T.S. Eliot wrote: “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm–but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves. ”
Yours in good times and bad,
Myers’ Energy & Gold Report