Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Obama's Dallas Speech
There have been mixed reactions to President Obama's speech yesterday in Dallas at the tribute to the five police officers who were murdered last week. Yes, he paid homage to the officers, the Dallas police force and police in general as defenders of our society. Yes, he stated correctly that the murders were an act of racial hatred. Yes, he argued for racial harmony and reconciliation.
I readily concede that he was trying to walk a middle line between those grieving for the cops and those grieving for the lives of the two men who died at the hands of the police in Louisiana and Minnesota. Yet, I would argue that his references to the two incidents were not appropriate to the time and place.
This is not to suggest that the two deaths in question were not tragedies. The use of deadly force is under question at this point. Obama knew that people on both sides were hurting and outraged, and he tried to please both sides.
But a memorial to five murdered cops is not the occasion to talk about police brutality and eulogize Philando Castile and Alton Sterling-or to mention the Black Lives Matter.movement. In my view, the President could have made more oblique references to the controversy that inspired the Dallas shooter to commit this atrocity.
But it was no occasion to try and placate or address the agenda of Black Lives Matter. Nor was it a time for all the references to himself. This service was not about Obama or Baton Rouge or Minnesota. It was about five cops who were murdered out of racial hatred.
This is a president who had the potential to greatly improve race relations in this country. He was clearly trying to do that in Dallas, but blew it. For seven years, he has squandered an historic opportunity. He did it by inviting people like Al Sharpton to the White House some 90 times. He has even invited leaders of BLM to the White House. He inserted himself into police shootings when the police deserved his support. In addition, he appointed Eric Holder as attorney general, divisive figure in his own right.
It is sad that seven years after the election (and re-election) of our first black president, race relations are the worst in a half century. Obama's speech yesterday illustrated how he just never figured out how to do it.