- - Sunday, December 21, 2014


Minutes after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, announced that it would not bring charges against a city police officer who shot a black teenager to protect his life, President Obama appeared in the White House briefing room to deliver a 65-sentence, 1,255-word statement.

“The fact is, in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color,” the healer in chief said. Cable news channels carrying the equivocal and morally ambivalent remarks used a split screen to show rioters in Ferguson lighting fires and looting store.

SEE ALSO: Obama, Holder condemn ‘senseless’ murders of New York police officers

On Saturday, after two New York City police officers were gunned down in cold blood, the president said nothing. That day, he was on a golf course in Hawaii. He didn’t interrupt his five-hour round with his buddies, including one once arrested for soliciting prostitution (she was, it turned out, a cop). Instead, at 12:16 a.m. Sunday, he put out a four-sentence, 89-word statement.

“I unconditionally condemn today’s murder of two police officers in New York City. Two brave men won’t be going home to their loved ones tonight, and for that, there is no justification. The officers who serve and protect our communities risk their own safety for ours every single day — and they deserve our respect and gratitude every single day. Tonight, I ask people to reject violence and words that harm, and turn to words that heal — prayer, patient dialogue, and sympathy for the friends and family of the fallen.”

The statement was bizarre. Who doesn’t “unconditionally condemn” the murder of police officers? Who would even contend that there was some sort of “justification”? And why does the president, he of the bully pulpit, “ask” people to reject violence and words that harm and turn to words that heal? How about implore, demand, order?

SEE ALSO: 2 NYPD officers killed in ambush

That’s not at all what he has done throughout the racial strife that has reared its ugly head during his presidency, from the Harvard mess that led to the “Beer Summit,” or the Trayvon Martin fiasco or, most recently, the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases.

Mr. Obama has stoked the embers of the race war with equivocal statements, giving one message in public, another in private (first lady Michelle Obama has seen to that). Remember, the president met with Ferguson activists and the very Rev. Al Sharpton at the White House in November and told them to “stay the course.” He even met with them just a week after looters ravaged the small St. Louis suburb, purportedly to discuss police violence.

The president supports Mr. Sharpton, who has been everywhere these last few months, organizing marches through his National Action Network to protest the deaths of black men at the hands of white police officers. Wherever the reverend goes, violence follows — with protesters chanting “No Justice, No Peace,” setting fires and looting stores.

In New York City just a week ago, Mr. Sharpton led a march in which protesters assaulted two NYPD officers and blocked traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. Their chant then: “What do we want? Dead cops!” The reverend stood by and smiled. And Mr. Obama said nothing.

In the Harvard debacle, when a black professor was arrested after getting violent with a police officer questioning why he was breaking into a house (albeit his own), Mr. Obama — without hearing the version from law enforcement — said “police acted stupidly.”

The half-black, half-white president of late has been poking away at the dying coals of racial discord. Just last week he said, “There’s no black male my age who’s a professional who hasn’t come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn’t hand them their car keys.” Really? Not one? I know a dozen. I’ll give you names.

In his more introspective comments, Mr. Obama is right: There has been progress. He acknowledges that. And it’s worth realizing that when he leaves office, third graders will never have known an America with a white president. Even he knows that.

But Mr. Obama also has lamented trying to catch a cab in New York City — a long time ago. Is that America now? Really?

Not according to comedian Chris Rock in his new movie “Top Five.” Walking down the street with a New York Times reporter, he says things never change. She tells him, “Thank God things change. … You need to wake up and smell the progress.”

“Yeah, look at this,” Rock says. “Black man trying to get a cab in New York City.” He steps off the curb, arm in the air. “Taxi! Taxi! Yeah!” he says with a told-you-so face.

A taxi screeches to a halt. Mr. Rock does a humorous double take.

That’s America now. Americans aren’t what Mr. Obama thinks — racist, Confederate flag-waving rednecks persecuting blacks. That was a long time ago. Wake up and smell the progress.

Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.

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