On Sunday, our nation once again witnessed a horrific and cowardly attack on law enforcement officers, this time in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Three officers were killed and another three were injured, with one officer still very much fighting for his life according to reports. Once again, the nation mourns. Once again, there are calls for prayers and unity in our community. It seems like the nation’s flags flying at half staff might just be the new normal.
I believe most people in America are outraged over these attacks. I believe that most people are good-hearted people, who even if they hold a feeling of contempt towards police right now due to the controversial police shootings that have happened recently, do not want to see these kinds of attacks on law enforcement. But the problem is that there are far too many in this world who are justifying these killings. Whether it is some loser on social media or a high profile person like Bill Maher, there are far too many people in our society who are saying that they “do not condone the violence towards police, but they understand it”. That is an absolutely awful statement. And by the way, it is in fact a justification for the violence we are seeing. You do not get to say that you do not condone the violence but you understand it. If you state that you UNDERSTAND why someone would want to kill an innocent police officer, you ARE condoning it. The preamble of stating that “while I do not condone it BUT” may help you to sleep better at night and make you feel like not so terrible a person, but if you state that you understand why people are wanting to commit these vicious acts, you are a part of the problem.
President Obama also decided to come out today to speak in regards to the Baton Rouge police killings…
I must admit that after 7 1/2 years of having this man as our president, I cringe every time there is a tragedy or a crime such as this and they announce that he is going to come out and speak. I cringe because I know what we can expect. We can expect rhetoric that is going to be full of politics, listening to him use the tragedy to push his own political agenda. We are going to hear a lecture about how somehow this is the fault of conservatives or America as a whole and somehow we need to change something that WE are doing to become Obama’s idea of “who we are”. We are going to hear words that are going to further divide our country instead of uniting or inspiring it. So today, when I heard he was going to speak, I thought to myself, “oh why? Why can’t he just be quiet and go away?”. But I listened to what he had to say, always hoping that this time will be the one time he will stand up and do the right thing and be a leader for ALL Americans, and not just the few that he chooses to represent. Today, his speech was a good one. He said the right things. He left out the political pushes. For once in his life, he did not push for gun control. If this speech were to be taken all by itself, I would say there were no problems with it whatsoever.
But after 7 1/2 years of this president, I do not see how we can take this speech all by itself. It was, in fact, painful to listen to because while he was saying the right things, it pointed to a painfully serious lack of self-awareness on his part. The first thing he came out to say is that we do not know the suspect’s motive, and that we need to wait to see what the evidence shows as to what his motive was. And he is right. We do not know the suspect’s motive. We do not know if he was motivated by Black Lives Matter or by Isis. We do not know if he was trying to achieve suicide by cop or if he was suffering from a complete nervous breakdown caused by PTSD. We absolutely do not know yet. So yes, the president is right. But then it begs the question… why is he so determined to wait to see what the evidence shows when it is violence against police, or even a terrorist attack, but he is so quick to come out and declare a police officer guilty and state that a police shooting was racially motivated, before any of the facts of the case are known?
He then goes on to completely condemn the attacks on police and praise police officers for the job they do for our country every day. These were good words. He spoke them, for once, without feeling the need to also justify the feelings of anti-police demonstrators and those involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. But then, the kicker, because it always comes. He calls on people and political leaders of all organizations and political parties to focus on words that unite instead of words that divide. He said that as we enter into the next couple of weeks of political conventions, we need to focus not on making accusations but on uniting rhetoric. Again, if you erase this president’s words over the last 7 1/2 years, I would say he is right and this is all true. But you cannot erase the entirety of this man’s presidency. You cannot erase the fact that only a few days ago, this is the president who stood in front of family members of innocent dead police officers and called police departments across America racist. You cannot erase the fact that at that same memorial, he said that we are an inherently racist country and if we deny the racism that HE knows exists in our police departments, institutions, homes, and even our own heads, we are not being honest with ourselves. You cannot erase the fact that every time something happens in our nation, he is out there calling for gun control. And then today, on the eve of the start of the Republican National Convention, when he knows that the news coverage is going to be entirely devoted to covering the arguments of his political adversaries, he calls on political leaders to make sure to “not point the finger at anyone” and focus on words that unite. To me, it sounds like a pre-emptive strike. It sounds like he knows that in the last two weeks, we have witnessed two major assaults on police officers as well as a large international terrorist attack. He knows that the Republican Convention is largely going to be about ripping apart his 8 years in office, and pointing to a lot of his own words and actions as contributing to the environment of division and unrest that we are currently seeing in the country. So now is the time that he is going to come out and be presidential. Now is the time he is going to call on everyone to stop pointing fingers, and focus on using words that unite instead of divide us. Once again, it is not about what is right for the country, it is about what furthers his political agenda. He knows that Hillary Clinton has had a very rough past few weeks. He knows that the party and candidate typically gets a bump from their convention, and he knows that the right have a lot of ammunition to throw against him and the state of the country and the world after 8 years of an Obama administration.
For anyone who thinks I am being overly critical of him, for anyone who thinks I am being overly-cynical, I reiterate this: the president’s speech today taken by itself was a good speech. But you simply cannot take one speech by itself and ignore this man’s rhetoric and actions over the course of his presidency. He gave a presidential and unifying speech today. Unfortunately, at this point, it is too little, far too late.