Racial division has once again reared its ugly head in America. And this time, the President of the United States has used a horrible situation as an opportunity to shamefully pander to potential voters.
President Barack Obama weighed into the controversial killing of a black teenager in Florida in very personal terms on Friday, comparing the boy to a son he doesn’t have and calling for American “soul searching” over how the incident occurred.
Seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin, dressed in a “hoodie” sweatshirt, was shot dead a month ago in Sanford, Florida by a 28-year-old white Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer who said he was acting in self-defense.
“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” Obama said in his first comments about the shooting, acknowledging the racial element in the case.
“Obviously, this is a tragedy,” Obama told reporters. “I can only imagine what these parents are going through. And when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids.”
The case has rippled across the nation and prompted rallies protesting the failure of the police to arrest the shooter, George Zimmerman, and, more broadly, a pattern of racial discrimination black leaders cite in Sanford and elsewhere in the country.
Obama, the first black U.S. president, made his remarks at a White House event to announce his pick to lead the World Bank, waiting briefly after the announcement to take a reporter’s question about the incident.
Martin’s parents thanked the president for his words.
“The president’s personal comments touched us deeply and made us wonder: If his son looked like Trayvon and wore a hoodie, would he be suspicious too?,” they said in a statement.
Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law allows people to use deadly force in self-defense.
Similar laws are in effect in at least 24 states including Florida, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Calls are mounting to repeal them. Earlier this week, a Florida state senator said he was drafting new legislation to drastically change the law in Florida.
A South Carolina state representative said on Friday he had introduced a bill to repeal his state’s law. Bakari Sellers, a black Democrat and gun owner, said he wanted to prevent an incident like the Trayvon Martin shooting happening in his state.
“I’m six-five and a black guy,” he said. “I just know that it could have been me.”
Obama said the “Stand Your Ground” laws should be studied.
“I think all of us have to do some soul-searching to figure out how does something like this happen. And that means that examine the laws and the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident,” he said.
“Every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, and that everybody pulls together — federal, state and local — to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened.”
And, of course, what would a national race crisis be without America’s premier race baiter hogging the nearest camera?
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said Friday that he’s grateful the rest of the country has sat up and taken notice of the tragic slaying of Trayvon Martin. But he can’t help but wonder: Why has it taken so long for everyone else to recognize the chronic injustices that African Americans face?
“We’re surprised that everyone else is surprised,” Jackson told the Los Angeles Times. African Americans have tried for decades to get the rest of America to understand their plight, he said, particularly their beliefs that justice is still elusive in many parts of America, especially the Deep South.
Then along comes the Trayvon Martin case, and facts that are not in contention: Volunteer neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman pursued and then gunned down the unarmed 17-year-old last month, and never faced arrest because police said there was no evidence to contradict his claim that he fired in self-defense.
“I hope that this will be a transformative moment,” Jackson said.
Jackson was speaking Friday morning from the Chicago offices of his Rainbow PUSH Coalition. He had just returned from duties in Belgium and Switzerland. He was in Geneva on Wednesday as part of a delegation of religious leaders trying to find a way to end the violence in Syria. Jackson was preparing to get back on a plane for a flight south so he can add his voice to the growing protests in and around Sanford, Fla., where Martin’s shooting took place.
Jackson said the Martin case is getting plenty of media attention overseas, attention that is both embarrassing to white America and humiliating to black America.
Moreover, he said, the failure to make an arrest in the case takes away the nation’s “moral authority” to address injustices in other countries when it fails to do the same within its own borders.
Jackson predicted that the protests will continue to multiply in number and that the ranks of protestors will swell until Zimmerman is arrested.
“As long as he is outside of the court system, the protests will intensify and spill over into other dimensions,” Jackson said. “His lack of appearance in the court system is a source of embarrassment and humiliation. He needs to face the court.”
So, here we are. It’s March, 1968 again, all of the sudden…except its different this time. Embarrassingly different. There was an Al Sharpton-led rally in Sanford, Florida, last Thursday evening. Enterprising entrepreneurs were in attendance.
Nation of Islam representatives were on scene in Sanford, too, peddling merchandise and trying to enlist new recruits. James Muhammad, the assistant regional minister of the Nation of Islam’s seventh region, told TheDC that he and others from his organization were on scene because of “injustice.”
“The reason is our love for our people and our intolerance for having our children shot down outside of the law of justice,” Muhammad said.
Those with Muhammad at the event were selling copies of the Nation of Islam’s official publication — The Final Call — which Louis Farrakhan publishes. Farrakhan, a radical and divisive figure, has predicted “retaliation” will be coming “soon and very soon.”
For a buck, rally-goers could purchase copies of the paper from Muhammad’s associates — with the headline “JUSTICE FOR TRAYVON! Demands for arrest, criticism of police grows in case of Florida teen killed by White community patrol captain.” That statement is incorrect, however, as Zimmerman is not White. He is Hispanic, and according to a statement his father gave the Orlando Sentinel, he has a racially mixed family and black relatives.
Muhammad said there’s an underlying hatred of black people in this country. “It’s deeper than the chief of police, it’s deeper than the mayor,” Muhammad said. “It’s deeper than the government. It’s deeper than the president. The reality of it is there is an underlying atmosphere of racism in this country, where the administration of justice is inconsistent and the enforcement of law is inconsistent based on your ethnicity, based on your race.”
Others sold t-shirts emblazoned with puns about how Martin was not armed when he was shot. When Zimmerman shot him, Martin was only carrying a bottle of ice tea and a pack of Skittles, so slogans on the shirts joked about how dangerous someone armed with candy could be.
Rally-goers could buy Trayvon buttons and pins, too, while other attendees passed out signs to the crowd.
A lot of people were self-righteously proud back in 2008, when they assisted in electing a black man as President of these United States. However, they failed to pay attention to another black man, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, who proclaimed on August 23, 1963:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I am privileged to be a Facebook friend of Dr. King’s niece, Alveda King, a great Christian lady and Pro-life Activist. She was on the Glenn Beck Fox News Television Program one evening, sitting with “Uncle” Ted Nugent. It was great. The Nuge and Alveda were wonderful together. He told her he loved her.
Her uncle would have been proud of her that day.
What do you think he would say about the race-baiting prologue pitifully overshadowing the tragic death of a young man?
I believe that somewhere, he’s sadly shaking his head.