For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. – Hosea 8:7
Let me first say that I have been a pastor in an all Black congregation (we didn’t call ourselves African-American back then… we called ourselves “Black” and were not ashamed of it!). Although I did not vote for him, I had high hopes that the election of Barak Obama in 2008 would bring to an end the ugly stain of racism in our country. Not that it would eliminate all racists by magic, but that we could move forward as a nation, united without regards to color, and racists would be shown to be the small minority that they were. It is with great disappointment that I now see Obama as one of the most racist presidents since Andrew Jackson, and as a man who has set back the course of race relations by fanning the flames of racial tensions for his own political advantage. Can you imagine if George Bush had jumped into any incident of a black man shooting a white man, condemning the black man before trial and implying that the black man did it because of his race? First of all, the media would have excoriated him. Before Obama, what president got involved in individual criminal acts and took sides based upon race? Not only that, it is not the role of the president to attempt to influence the judicial process in individual cases. It is prejudicial. Yet by using high profile cases and fanning the media flames, implying racial motivations, it works to the advantage of the President during times leading up to elections. It solidifies his base, but it has built into such a crescendo of distrust and hostility towards all police that some cities are becoming far less safe than they were before.
I am not trying to justify all police actions. I have been on the receiving end of unjust police actions, so I know a little bit about it. But painting all police with the broad brush of racism is not only unjust, it also creates a climate of open warfare on police officers leading to potential social chaos.
The Voter Intimidation Case
Eric Holder’s refusal to prosecute intimidation of white voters by Black Panthers in Philadelphia in 2008 created the feeling of racial bias by this administration and was the first indication that we were not really in a post-racial society.
Two members of the New Black Panther party, Minister King Samir Shabazz, and Jerry Jackson, stood in front of the entrance to the polling station in uniforms that have been described as military or paramilitary. Minister King Shabazz carried a billy club, and is reported to have pointed it at voters while both men shouted racial slurs, including phrases such as “white devil” and “you’re about to be ruled by the black man, cracker.”
In April 2009 Bartle Bull, a former civil rights lawyer who was serving as a poll watcher at the polling station where the incident occurred, submitted an affidavit at the Department of Justice’s request supporting the lawsuit, stating that he considered it to have been the most severe instance of voter intimidation he had ever encountered. When none of the defendants who were charged appeared in court to answer the charges, the career attorneys pursuing the lawsuit assumed that they would win it by default. However the move to pursue a default judgment was overruled by two of their line superiors, Loretta King, who was acting Assistant Attorney General, and Steve Rosenbaum, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General.
Hans A. von Spakovsky stated that internal e-mails from the Department of Justice released under a Freedom of Information Act request show that political appointees were “intimately involved” in the decision to drop the case, including former Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli and Attorney General Eric Holder, and that Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez may have committed perjury by denying this in his testimony before the Civil Rights Commission.
In December 2010, the Civil Rights Commission released a report concluding that their investigations had uncovered “numerous specific examples of open hostility and opposition” within the Department of Justice to pursuing cases in which whites were the victims. The report accused the Department of Justice of failing to cooperate with investigations into its reason for dropping the case, stating “While the department has issued general statements that it enforces the laws without regard to race, these assurances do not confirm, deny or explain the specific allegations of misconduct […] Unfortunately, the department has thus far refused to address many of these specific claims or to provide the type of information that would allow the commission to properly review the decision making relating to the NBPP lawsuit.”
President Obama, speaking to reporters on March 23 after federal investigators were deployed to Sanford, said, “When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids, and I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this… If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”
Former presidential candidate Herman Cain objected to what he called “swirling rhetoric” and “a war of words”, and former Garland, Texas NAACP president C.L. Bryant singled out Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for being “race hustlers” who were exploiting Martin’s death “to inflame racial passions”. Bryant also criticized President Barack Obama for his “nebulous” comment, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Former education secretary William Bennett criticized what he called a “mob mentality”, saying that “…the tendency in the first days by some, including Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and an angry chorus of followers, was to rush to judgment with little regard for fairness, due process, or respect for the terrible death of a young man.”
On July 22, President Barack Obama said about the incident, “I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home, and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.” Law enforcement organizations and members objected to Obama’s comments and criticized his handling of the issue. In the aftermath, Obama stated that he regretted his comments and hoped that the situation could become a “teachable moment”.
Ferguson and the Michael Brown Case
This case is a little more complicated. Michael Brown was shown to be a thug and the initial report by his companion that he had his hands up was recanted and later show to be false by the Department of Justice. However, the initial media reports as “fact” caused a boiling over of the underlying racial tension in the community. The Justice Department did find evidence of racial bias in the police department. Yet, as the protests became violent, agitators came in from outside, property was destroyed and looters burned and stole, the President was mostly inclined to justify the lack of civil order by his silence, and only belatedly called for people not to throw bricks…
In the days following the shooting, state and federal officials weighed in on the matter. On August 12, President Barack Obama offered his condolences to Brown’s family and community. …
U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the First Amendment violations, saying, “There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests, or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. And here, in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground.”
On November 24, minutes after a prosecuting attorney announced that a grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson, President Obama urged calm and restraint in Ferguson, saying racial discrimination and distrust of police cannot be resolved by “throwing bottles.” Immediately after the shooting and in the weeks leading up to the grand jury announcement, President Obama has made several such calls for calm and restraint in Ferguson.
While the foregoing are just some examples of the inappropriate insertion of racial politics by the President into individual incidents, the overall tenor has resulted in the execution style slaying of police officers and even calls for the killing of police by the #BlackLivesMatter movement:
Several conservative pundits have labeled the movement a “hate group”. Candidate Chris Christie, the New Jersey Governor, criticized President Obama for supporting BLM, saying that the movement calls for the murder of police officers, which was condemned by New Jersey chapters of the NAACP and ACLU.
Marchers using a BLM banner were recorded in a video chanting, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon” at the Minnesota State Fair.
United States President Barack Obama spoke to the debate between Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. Obama said, “I think that the reason that the organizers used the phrase Black Lives Matter was not because they were suggesting that no one else’s lives matter … rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African American community that’s not happening in other communities.” He went on to say “that is a legitimate issue that we’ve got to address.”
Yes, by all means, systemic racism must be addressed. But we must also be cautious about a mob mentality which justifies a rush to judgment and creates a climate of hostility which cannot be placated by any means. When all police officers in any shooting are immediately condemned and found guilty because of a difference in race, then we have a fire that cannot be extinguished. By sowing hate, suspicion, and vengeance, we reap social disorder.
Seattle Seahawks Richard Sherman said about the “Black Lives Matter” movement, “I dealt with a best friend getting killed, and it was [by] two 35-year-old black men. There was no police officer involved, there wasn’t anybody else involved, and I didn’t hear anybody shouting ‘black lives matter’ then.”
Some commentators and law enforcement have claimed that BLM has made it hard for police to do their job, leading to a rise in crime rates. Commentators have referred to this as the Ferguson effect. FBI Director James Comey, for example, suggested that the movement is partly leading to a national rise in crime rates because police officers have pulled back from doing their jobs.
While the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore certain seems to show gross misconduct by some police officers, it is telling that President Obama will jump into any issue involving the death of a black man, but has never said a word about the murder of a white man by a black man. That is just an irony of the President who was supposed to be post-racial and unite us all. He is biased, and it shows.
And the worst part about this whole stirring of the racial pot is that it feeds into the racism of white supremacists and has led to murders by white racists in Missouri and now apparently in Minnesota. Dividing us by race for political ends is destroying the very hope for change his election in 2008 should have fulfilled. A lost opportunity for bringing out the best in us is leading to the devolution of our culture. Having sown the seeds of racism to the wind, he is reaping for us all a whirlwind.