On Friday, President Obama used a star-studded White House reception honoring the opening of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture to both lecture white people on how they should view the recent police shootings involving African-Americans as well as give a seeming wink and a nod to protesters bent on using the tragedies for their own ends.
Departing from remarks he had prepared, Obama said the timing of the museum’s opening is “fascinating, because in so many ways, it is the best of times. But in many ways, these are also troubled times. History doesn’t always move in a straight line, and without vigilance, we can move backwards as well as forwards.”
Naturally, the President had specific messages to both white and black Americans on how the museum should influence them.
To white Americans, Obama said he hopes the museum will cause them to “step back and say, ‘I understand, I sympathize, I empathize, I can see why folks might feel angry, and I want to be part of the solution as opposed to resisting change.’”
So, whites are supposed to “understand” when an angry mob beats and strips a random white dude just for being white while in the wrong place? Whites are supposed to “empathize” while buildings burn, stores are looted, and photographers are almost tossed into fires, all because a black cop shoots some gun-toting thug? Well, okay then!
To black Americans, Obama said, “my hope is that black folks watching some of those same images on television and then seeing the history represented can say to themselves that the struggles we’re going through today are connected to the past, and yet, all that progress we’ve made tells me I cannot and will not sink into despair.”
Yep, I’m sure that’ll stop them, Mr. President!
Of course, the reception was attended by plenty of stars who likely were a million miles from the mean streets of Charlotte – Oprah Winfrey, Harry Belafonte, Jesse Jackson, and record producer Quincy Jones, among others.
In an earlier Good Morning America interview, the President did say that violence is the “wrong way” to protest against police shootings and promised to stay out of the debate to keep from interfering with federal investigations.
“What we’ve seen over the past several years is that the overwhelming majority of people who have been concerned about police-community relations doing it the right way. Every once in a while, you see folks doing it the wrong way,” Obama said. “Looting, breaking glass — those things are not going to advance the cause.”
The President did toss the nation’s police, whose largest union has endorsed Donald Trump, a small bone, seeming to try to balance his desire for ‘social justice,’ whatever that means, with police support.
“I think it’s important to separate out the pervasive sense of frustration among a lot of African-Americans about shootings of people, and the sense that justice is not always color blind,” the President told ABC News. “Police have a really tough job. They’re dealing with people, typically, who are not looking forward to their interaction with police.”
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