Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Is Obama facing facts, or playing the race card?
Special to the Daily
So now the president isn’t Trayvon Martin’s father, he’s Trayvon Martin.
Barack Obama’s recent plea for “soul-searching” and honest talk on racism in America in the wake of the George Zimmermann verdict comes wrapped in the familiar excuses, blame and attempt to stoke white guilt over our country’s “very violent past.” It’s the gambit of the race hustler, the opportunist, the hard-Left community organizer. It’s a lost opportunity for a real exchange, and more’s the pity. We desperately need that discussion.
Since the president seems determined to put race on the agenda, let’s go there, starting with his opening statement: what he clearly regarded as a few illustrations of unfounded white paranoia about black Americans. And let’s keep in mind that a fundamental necessity for honest conversation is fact. To that end, the statistics that follow come from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “Crime in the U.S.” abstract for 2011 — the last year comprehensive figures are available. The report can be seen at: http://tinyurl.com/kzwyhwo.
One should also note that percentages have not dramatically changed over the past decade.
One of his first comments was that “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 may be because in 2011, 34 percent of all vehicle thefts were committed by black Americans. Given the relative numbers in the U.S. population, one was eight times more likely to have one’s car stolen or to be carjacked (“other assaults”) by a black, than a white, American.
He also said that “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.” Perhaps because the former committed 55 percent of the robberies and 34 percent of the assaults in 2011.
What Barack Obama seeks to portray as unreasoning fear fueled by latent racism has another explanation: wholly rational concern for personal safety. As any competent security expert will advise: awareness of one’s surroundings is of paramount importance. That he doesn’t acknowledge this says more about him than it does about those he implicitly criticizes.
Another figure the president left out: in 2011, black Americans committed 4,149 murders, 50 percent of the total in this country. More than 80 percent of the victims were also black. In a population just over 12 percent of the whole, this is carnage. It is also inexpressibly sad. And it has nothing to do with racism, real or imagined.
The president noted these figures, but dismissed them as being a product of “a very difficult history” and an “excuse to (then) see sons treated differently.” He added that lack of recognition of this history “adds to frustration,” excusing further bad acts — the very essence of the approach used by impresarios of racial conflict such as Al Sharpton.
At the end of his discourse on white foolishness, the president asked “Where do we take this?” It was a rhetorical question, immediately followed by the usual suspects: hints of possible Justice Department action against George Zimmermann, an examination of “stand your ground” laws, enactment of statues against “racial profiling” — never at issue in the Zimmermann/Martin case according to the jury, but why let a crisis go to waste?
Nevertheless, America might want to take the President up on his query, since he did note that part of the solution might lie in the African-American community itself. We should address that part about “… helping young African-American men feel that they’re a full part of this society …” Note that this part of the solution doesn’t involve money. It doesn’t involve affirmative action. It doesn’t involve guilt, either.
This kind of solution involves instead a change of heart and of behavior. The “young African-American men” of whom the president speaks should frequently be reminded by parents, peers and role models that part of being included in society is accepting the norms and mores of that society, not flouting them. If one dresses like a gangsta, talks like a gangsta and acts like a gangsta, one will be treated as such, regardless of intent.
They, and all of us, should also remember that American society “owes” the individual very little except the opportunity to succeed. Actual success or failure depends largely on a person’s effort, skill and luck. Resort to past grievances, or excuses conjured out of imagined ill-will and slights will not suffice, but will further shed the social fabric on which we all depend — to no good end.
I wonder if that’s the sort of “helping” the president has in mind?
Morgan Liddick lives in Summit County.
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