(Partially) Deconstructing Obama (Updated 7/20/13)

The updated portion commences just after the overstrike text near the middle of the post.

“President Obama’s remarks on Trayvon Martin (full transcript),” Washington Post, 7/19/13:

The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week, the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling.

Well, it was the Zimmerman trial verdict, but knock yourself out.

I gave an — a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday, but watching the debate over the course of the last week I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.

Or not.

First of all, you know, I — I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s — it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.

Sure, but…nothing about Zimmerman’s family? Oh.

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there are going to be a lot of arguments about the legal — legal issues in the case. I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.

Promises, promises.

The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a — in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works.

But…

But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that — that doesn’t go away.

He could have been your son, it could have been you. As Hugh Hewitt pointed out, the same could be said about George Zimmerman, since Zimmerman is bi-racial.

So you’re saying you were a thug, Mr. President?

Also, one would be hard-pressed to find a single serious analyst on the topic of race relations in America who has ever suggested that history “go away.” So that’s a logical fallacy.

What you seem to be saying is that at times that all-too sorry history is as real today as it was at its worst, no matter how long ago the worst occurred; that nothing has changed–forget about that changing since you were young, but ever. If that’s not what you meant, why frame it as  “a history that…doesn’t go away”?

Shelby Steele has already shed a bright light on that, as I excerpted in “Race-Hustling As Nostalgic Ennoblement.”

But back to the farce in progress:

There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.

And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

Assuming it is true that blacks are subject to higher levels of vigilence on the part of non-blacks (presumably whites), and that it is as ubiquitous as you frame it (if it is not ubiquitous, what possible reason would you have for bringing it up), do you suppose it has anything to do with the fact that young black men commit a disproportionate amount of violent crime in America relative to their numbers? Or are you implying it is endemic white racism (and cowardice) when in proximity to a member of a group that is wholly undeserving of such a reaction?

On the one hand, you ascribe to non-blacks (presumably whites) a tendency to generalize based on race. On the other hand, you infer a generality about (guess who!) non-blacks. Nice racket.

And you know, I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.

All the more inescapable when the President of the United States reinforces it. But the irony presumably escapes you.

Speaking of experiences brought to bear, when I was young I worked for three years for a pizza store. I was robbed four times and shot at twice. None of the thugs in those encounters were white. Anecdotal? You betcha. Does that experience fly in the face of statistical reality? If only.

The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

That was a button-pushing incoherence of a paragraph.

All too often, the “knowledge” that blacks (sorry, I’m not playing the ridiculous “African-American” what-are-we-supposed-to-refer-to-black-people-this-week-as game) acquire is the parade of self-pitying bullshit they are sold by self-interested race-hustlers. (I again refer you to “Race-Hustling As Nostalgic Ennoblement.”)

You, Mr. President, are a classic Leftist pseudo-intellectual who thinks that the goal of political life is to achieve equal outcomes. But that is an argument for another post. Suffice it to say that the fact that, for instance, there are more young black men in prison than their numbers would lead us to expect, has as much to do with racism as does a cheese omelet. But as I said, that is an argument for another day.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact, although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.

Interesting how you folded in victims into that paragraph.

Easily the most weaselly, bullshit paragraph so far.  You are of course making excuses for the fact that blacks are over-represented in the criminal justice system. That was the whole point of the paragraph.

We understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

See? You’re making excuses for blacks being overrepresented in crime again.

History.

That is: Slavery. Jim Crow. That is: The Man.

Blah blah blah.

This idiocy is so twisted up I feel a bit condescending pointing it out. Oh well oh well.

And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

But you have no problem blaming white people for all this. And the irony escapes you.

I think the African-American community is also not naive in understanding that statistically somebody like Trayvon Martin was probably statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.

Probably?

Seriously?

I have seen no evidence of any such understanding in the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial. None.

So — so folks understand the challenges that exist for African- American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it or — and that context is being denied. And — and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Did I mention that all of this extrapolation from Zimmerman case glosses over the fact that Martin tried to kill Zimmerman. Oh yes, that. Small details.

Speaking of context, Daniel Patrick Moynihan was a prophet when he wrote, in 1965: “The steady expansion of welfare programs can be taken as a measure of the steady disintegration of the Negro family structure over the past generation in the United States.”

In other words, the very political mindset that set this all in motion now blames white people generally, and conservatives specifically, for the Democratic destruction of the black family.

C.f., Larry Elder.

Now, the question for me at least, and I think, for a lot of folks is, where do we take this? How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction? You know, I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through as long as it remains nonviolent. If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family.

Your implication is there has been no anti-verdict violence. Obviously you don’t see what you don’t pay attention to, Mr. President.

But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do? I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government — the criminal code. And law enforcement has traditionally done it at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.

Ah, so all this was a sop to, as Charles Krauthammer noted, soften the blow that Holder knows a Federal civil rights prosecution isn’t going to happen.

Way to weasel, Mr. President. Golf clap.

That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation, we can’t do some things that I think would be productive. So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.

Oh joy.

I’ve run out of patience. Maybe I’ll come back and update this later.

Or maybe I’ll stick a No. 2 pencil in my ear while listening to Rebecca Black instead.

Here’s the rest if you want to subject yourself to it:

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it’d be productive for the Justice Department — governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.

Because nothing builds local trust like Federal intervention.

You know, when I was in Illinois I passed racial profiling legislation. And it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.

You passed it? Oh.

Collected data? Oh good, that way we can once again focus on outcomes and reverse-engineer from that.

If only state and local law enforcement could be as professional as the TSA, eh?

And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way, that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and in turn be more helpful in applying the law. And obviously law enforcement’s got a very tough job.

All the more tough for all the micromanaging by the Federal government.

So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought bear if state and local governments are receptive. And I think a lot of them would be. And — and let’s figure out other ways for us to push out that kind of training.

And if they’re not receptive, there’s the old block grant bait-and-switch. And if that fails, DOJ harassment.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than defuse potential altercations.

In other words, if you are attacked, you have a legal and moral obligation to run like the wind?

I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the stand your ground laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.

Commentary? You mean facts?

On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?

So the onus is on the attacked, not on the attacker, is that it?

As for Democrats talking about “peace and security and order,” that’s too sickly funny for words.

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?

Uh, Mr. President, Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman. What on earth are you blathering about.

Uh, no, Mr. President, shooting someone because they’re following you has nothing to do with stand your ground laws, and you bloody well know it.

And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

It seems to me that you are bloviating about utter nonsense in order to cover for the fact that there is no Federal case to be made.

Number three — and this is a long-term project: We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

Fathers. C.f., Larry Elder.

Stop focusing on disparate impacts and start re-focusing on content of character.

And stop freaking race-baiting, sending the message to blacks that they are victims. They are only victims to the extent that they buy into the kind of crap that self-interested, race-hustling, Leftist community organizers have been selling for decades.

You know, I’m not naive about the prospects of some brand-new federal program.

If only we could spend more money. Darn.

I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I do recognize that as president, I’ve got some convening power.

“Convening power”? Oh goody, let’s have another commission so we can ignore the findings like all the other commissions that came before. A grand idea.

And there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front. And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African-American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that — and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed — you know, I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation. And we’re going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that.

Celebrities and athletes? Huh?

Never let a crisis, manufactured or otherwise, go to waste.

It’s not like there’s anything else going on with the economy, or in the world.

And then finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. You know, there have been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.

Given the fact that you are trotting out the same tired Leftist platitudes, presumably the soul-searching will consist of non-Leftists who believe in merit and content of character shutting up and listening while the Left finds a way to double down on the failed ideologies, mindsets, sense of victimhood, and Federal programs of the past.

On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s a possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can; am I judging people, as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

Honesty? You want honesty? The Left wants honesty? Oh, that must be why they’re constantly screaming, “SHUT UP, YOU RACISTS!”

Do not invoke content of character. Do not. The Leftist obsession with “disparate impact” proves, day after day, in every policy pronouncement, and in the endless demonization of those who argue for content of character in lieu of Leftist identity politics, that you have absolutely no interest in content of character as a guiding principle, but only as a twisted rhetorical prop.

And let me just leave you with — with a final thought, that as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. I doesn’t mean that we’re in a postracial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated. But you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they’re better than we are. They’re better than we were on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

Glad to hear that. Of course it flies in the face of most of the preceding, but it’s a nice little coda to a parade of race-baiting.

And you realize that that progress is in spite of the Left, not because of it, right?

No, you probably don’t understand that.

And so, you know, we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues, and those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions. But we should also have confidence that kids these days I think have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did, and that along this long, difficult journey, you know, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

If you truly believe that things are better, why do you and your Administration reflexively join with despicable race-hustlers in trying to drag us back to the past?

All right? Thank you, guys.

Feh.

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