President Obama weighed in the Trayvon/Zimmerman case today.
He ended his remarks in the White House briefing room on an optimistic note, saying American kids the age of his children are better than we were, or our parents and grandparents were when it comes to race. Praise for the current generation, back handed slap at the generation, now on social security, who made the civil rights movement possible.
But before that slightly uplifting note, the President stirred the pot, made the issue worse in many ways.
He recited a list of slights he has perceived over the years, directed his way he believed because he is black. Followed in a department store? Me too, he said. Woman clutching her purse in the elevator? Me too, he said. Hear car door locks click when crossing the street? Me too, he said.
Further, he said, these experience are the reasons that African Americans don’t seem to accept that Trayvon Martin initiated a violent confrontation which resulted in his death. Instead, the fight is irrelevant. What is relevant is that Trayvon, the black man/boy (whatever) perceived the slight of being followed. And evidently, the President and other African Americans believe that because of a long history of such slights it is understandable Trayvon felt entitled to the ‘ground and pound’ Zimmerman.
This is not helpful. the President just endorseD Rachel Jeantel’s position that Zimmerman was in no particular danger, just getting a ‘whupass’.
The President said if the person in Trayvon’s position had been white the outcome would have been different. One supposes he means the white Trayvon would not have been shot. That is absurd, unless you assume the white Trayvon would not have attacked Zimmerman the way the black Trayvon did. Adding to the absurdity, the President seems to be saying if Zimmerman had shot a white Trayvon then Zimmerman would have been convicted. That is doubledown absurdity. A man defends himself and because his assailant is white not black the man would have been convicted? Really? This from the President of the United States.
I’m not sure what the President was up to with these impromptu remarks. Was he saying a civil rights charge against Zimmerman is coming? Was he telling the African American community to not expect such a charge? Hard to say.
But his remarks about grievance–personal grievance–coming from a man who holds the world’s highest office precisely because he is black clanks on the ear, and has undoubtedly made racial division and discord in this country worse.