July 20, 2013

The 5 believers and the 5 "cons" — the background to Obama's spontaneous remarks about race.

Talk about context — and he did — look where we find ourselves. After the verdict in the George Zimmerman case — otherwise known as the Trayvon Martin case — Obama may have wanted not to speak, but our nation casts its weary eyes toward the face that we (once) imagined would emanate rays of racial healing. Come on, Obama, you've got to do it. He got profiled all the way into office, and now we expect him to perform in accordance with our stereotype.

He resisted for a number of days. Who knows what he was thinking? Was he waiting to see if there would be riots? To hear what others might say (so he could enter the conversation late and seem, perhaps without really saying anything, like the voice of reason)?

Then, on Friday, he made his way out to the lectern in the White House briefing room — "no advance warning and little of the orchestration that usually accompanies presidential speeches" — and spoke without a teleprompter, extemporaneously. As the NYT has it:
After days of angry protests and mounting public pressure, President Obama summoned five of his closest advisers to the Oval Office on Thursday evening. It was time, he told them, for him to speak to the nation about the Trayvon Martin verdict, and he had a pretty good idea what he wanted to say.
Summoned! So commanding. He talked to 5 advisers. We're not told who, but one of them talked to summoned the NYT — I'm sure that was okay with Obama — and painted this picture:
For the next 15 minutes, according to a senior aide, Mr. Obama spoke without interruption, laying out his message of why the not-guilty ruling had caused such pain among African-Americans, particularly young black men....
So the man is capable of speaking spontaneously for 15 minutes straight, and his 5 companions — obviously 5 believers — refrained from interrupting him. It's not really that amazing to go on for 15 minutes, and we sayw him do that at the lectern on Friday, presumably because he convinced himself — with the support of the 5 — that talking, just like that, would take us to that higher level that was promised by those Hope posters.



We don't know what he said Thursday night, but we do have the full video and transcript of what that became on Friday.  Listening to the remarks again, I imagine what talking points he had in his head, and my guess is 5 "CONs": CONDOLE, CONTEXT, CONVENE, CONVERSE, CONFIDENCE. Let me show you this in the transcript:
[CONDOLE]  ... First of all... I send my thoughts and prayers... to the family of Trayvon Martin....

[CONTEXT] The second thing... a lot of arguments about the legal issues... But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling... in the African American community... a lot of pain... recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.... those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.... black folks do interpret the reasons... in a historical context.... So folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys.... they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it and that context is being denied....

[CONVENE] Now... How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?.. I'm not na├»ve about the prospects of some grand, new federal program.  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, 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 they've got pathways and avenues to succeed....

[CONVERSE] And then, finally... There has 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.  On the other hand...  That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise...

[CONFIDENCE] And let me just leave you with a final thought... Each successive generation seems to be making progress...  we should... have confidence that kids these days... have more sense...
That's it: the 5 "cons." Don't even have to write it on your hand. Maybe in his head, he pictured one "con" superimposed on the face of each of the 5 believers he practiced with. Michelle was "confidence," all about the children and the hope, and so forth. That's just my sense of how he got through the 15 minutes, and he did it pretty well if you think about everything he had to pull together, all the people he needed to appease and inspire, and the theater of seeming to speak from the heart and the mind.

60 comments:

Ann Althouse said...

I'll open comments. Please stay on topic and engage with the new issues raised in this post.

Comments are on moderation now, so they won't appear immediately, and I'm only going to approve comments that engage with the ideas in this post, so avoid generic Obama-bashing and Zimmerman trial rehashing.

Feel free to talk about Bob Dylan.

Ann Althouse said...

And by "Feel free to talk about Bob Dylan," I mean, feel free to talk about "Obviously Five Believers." Don't say the usual things that people say about Bob Dylan.

J.R. said...

It feels to me like we may finally be seeing the death of the racialization of all things. The President spoke in order to lift the current agony of the black community. But the community, excepting the usual suspects, Sharpton, Jackson, NAACP, etc., doesn't seem united in the belief that the Zimmerman case is about race.

Perhaps this is the point where we as a society can move forward from having every issue that involves a black person devolving into some form of racial animus.

I certainly hope that is the case because I am tired of the race card being tossed on the table constantly.

Marty Keller said...

The "conversation" on race remains one of the most difficult and wrenching challenges we deal with as Americans, because it's almost impossible to take the viewpoint of someone with an entirely different experience without lathering our own experience all over it. And when we do that, the other person can conclude that we just don't care. Successfully navigating these treacherous waters requires an extraordinary vulnerability and commitment to non-judgment, capacities spectacularly absent from our contemporary culture.

somefeller said...

Is it okay to wonder aloud if Bob Dylan is now really, really happy he changed his surname?

Richard Dolan said...

It's accurate to say that he was talking about race,more specifically about perceptions in the Af-Am community,and not the trial. Accepting that premise, there are a few other "cons" you can add to you list.

The first is 'contradictory',in that the vehicle he uses to launch his discussion does match the perceptions he wants to discuss. That's the 'fake but accurate' theme that was discussed here some weeks ago, during the conversational ancien regime, regarding the 'narrative' vs. the evidence.

A second 'con' you could have added is 'control', in the Alinskyite sense of framing and directing the way an event is perceived. This was a trickier part of O's agenda, insofar as he was aiming at an audience that is not part of the core Dem/lefty crowd -- I.e., those who don't watch MSNBC or automatically accept the 'narrative.' To his credit, O wants to speak to the anti-MSNBC crowd and try to explain to them why all the protests are going on about this case rather than (say) the vastly more common black-on-black violence he acknowledged. His point was that history is not past at all (another theme that got some non-conversational play here recently as well), but is still the frame through which the Af-Am community sees any inter-racial case involving violence against blacks. Just as a matter of logic, that frame ca't apply to intra-racial cases.

That brings up a third 'con'. Note that most of these 'cons' -- Ann's original five and the two I suggest above -- are often in conflict. O doesn't like conflict when it's about disputing his perspective, his values. But conflict is what you get when you confidently try to convene and also control a conversation about context where the starting premise contradicts what many people could plainly see.

Richard Dolan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gadflyjohn said...

There might be a sixth 'con' in the speech; "conspicuous absence." Zimmerman was conspicuously absent (except when the President asked if it would have been OK to shoot him for following Martin). The President avoided any discussion of Zimmerman's ordeal at the hands of the State and now the Feds.

I'm confused. Do we or do we not want civic involvement, with people getting off the sofa and doing something to make their neighborhood a better, safer place? Or do we just want people to phone it in to 911 and leave everything to the authorities? If we pick door A, then mistakes and poor decisions are going to happen, no question. If we pick door B, then we are back to the era of Kitty Genovese where everyone is afraid to get involved. So which way would the President rather have us lean?

edutcher said...

Pardon my skepticism, but I think 5 of his closest advisers summoned him, not the other way around.

As for context, the context is a lot of people in the last 40 years have no idea how the law and trials work. This is the fault of public schools.

They also have been taught emotions override facts or evidence.

And, as many have noted, when the Lefties say they want a conversation, what they mean is they want to tell people how right they (the Lefties) are.

Matthew Sablan said...

First rule of presidential remarks: They are rarely spontaneous and never forced. You can't force the most powerful man in the world to talk about something he doesn't want to talk about.

It's like getting a date with a pretty girl: You can't force her to go on a date with you if she doesn't want to. If Obama did not want to talk about this, he wouldn't have. He could have said the DoJ is doing an investigation, and he can't speak about ongoing investigations -- like with the IRS, EPA, Benghazi, F&F, etc.

This is a message he wanted sent, so he sent it.

Some of what he said has merit [racism is bad], but there's really no new insights under the sun.

MikeDC said...

Did he mention anything in his press conference about "why the not-guilty ruling had caused such pain among African-Americans, particularly young black men"?

I didn't see the answer to this question at all.

I assume he didn't mean that it causes them pain to imagine that there might be mortal repercussions for engaging in felonious assault. Because African Americans, like everyone else, think people have a right to defend themselves when assaulted, have no right to assault others, and often avail themselves of the right to self-defense.

It might be most accurate for Obama to say that the verdict caused them such pain because it was so unexpected because president Obama and his supporters went to such pains to obscure the facts of the case.

But I missed it if he took any responsibility for causing that pain. Did I miss it?

Or did he just not acknowledge that he caused such pain, presided over others doing it, and generally used it as a tool to the profit of his reelection campaign?

Lyle said...

He forgot to condole George Zimmermann and the Zimmermann family who live under the threat of violence now. Perhaps President Obama respects the context of the threats.



erikarndt said...

It was a very constructive talk. He pulled the 5 cons together without a teleprompter and he convincingly made a consiliatory statement. He conducted himself in a timely manner, not too soon and not too late. It was sincere, with no appearance of a con job. Good work, I congratulate him.

David said...

So much material here.

Who were the five advisers? Who would Obama think it appropriate to vet this sensitive subject? That would tell us something. Will that get leaked? Whose egos are involved here?

Did he ever ask Michelle? She would seem uniquely qualified to help him on this subject. Is it a snub that Michelle is not hinted as an adviser? She has had the sense to stay quiet on this so far.

Is this all a con? Just a misdirection to take us away from the more damaging issues? It's unseemly to suggest that, as Obama of course has an actual emotional link to this subject. It is nice to see that something engages him emotionally, even if it takes days and five advisers for him to mediate the actual emotion.

Why no nod to the ordeal of the now declared innocent Mr. Zimmerman? His ordeal continues, by the way. Did O and the A's reject this notion. Or did they even notice the omission. Does Obama care at all about George Zimmerman?

Why does Obama seem to comment on race only when there is a mixed up publicized event?

Of course we will not know the answer to any of these questions now that Bob Woodward is out of favor at the White House.

I will let Bob Dylan talk about this himself. Let's see if those Zimmermans stick together.

Karen of Texas said...

Interesting method for him to employ. It runs along the same lines as behavior therapy when learning how to engage/cope with a borderline personality type: SET UP - Support, Empathy, Truth - Understanding, Perseverance.

No, I am not in the mental health field. No, I am not a borderline personality disordered individual.

El Pollo Raylan said...

English words beginning with con- or co- trace their lineage back to the Latin word cum which means together.*

How many other prefixed words did cum spawn in the English lexicon? I can't keep track of them. It's a good thing they all bear some resemblance, lest we forget where they came from.
________________
*Beatles reference

Karen of Texas said...

Interesting method for him to employ. It tracks with the SET-UP concept in learning to engage/cope with a borderline personality disordered individual.

Support
Empathy
Trust
Understanding
Perseverance

I wonder just who those 5 were?

No, I am not in the mental health field. No, I am not a borderline personality disordered individual.

SteveR said...

It seemed he just through out some words, didn't bite his lower lip though. He's not really up to the task beyond that.

Karen of Texas said...

Interesting method for him to employ. It tracks with the SET-UP concept in learning to engage/cope with a borderline personality disordered individual.

Support
Empathy
*Truth
Understanding
Perseverance

I wonder just who those 5 were?

No, I am not in the mental health field. No, I am not a borderline personality disordered individual.

Firehand said...

Reading the TalkLeft piece, and a couple of things stand out to me.

As a former Constitutional law professor, I would expect our President to acknowledge that the purpose of a criminal trial is not to send messages to the American public.
Problem is, to Obama EVERYTHING is about sending his message. Which I think is why this went into the "We need to get rid of Stand Your Ground laws" line; it had nothing to do with the trial, but he doesn't like them, so here's his message on that.

The other,
The most objectionable part of his comments: Not once did he express any empathy for George Zimmerman, the man who was acquitted who spent the past 16 months under the cloud of criminal charges, and who continues to have a target on his back.
Obama and Holder helped put that target there; why would he express any empathy for someone he helped try to destroy?

elwd2726 said...

Call me cynical but it seems to me that Obama timed his Treyvon speech to obliterate Thursday's news from the IRS and Bengazi investigations. There are no coincidences with this crew.

Conserve Liberty said...

It is a question of the cultural context, and there is more than one culture.

My wife and I were discussing last night the differences between our understanding of justice and that of the black community.

In our understanding, justice is a process, based on the rule of law and on precedent, after which a verdict is rendered by a judge or a jury. Zimmerman received justice.

In theirs, justice is something done or gotten in recompense for a wrong, as in "We want Justice for Trayvon," or, as in a mob "We're getting justice for Trayvon."

William said...

Obama nowhere mentioned that the feelings of those who feel that Zimmerman is getting a raw deal should be respected or even acknowledged.

exhelodrvr1 said...

He should have brought up the fact that so many people, particularly blacks and the media, ignored Zimmerman's mixed race, when trying to make this a white-black issue.

rcocean said...

1) Noticed several thing he mentioned Trayvon martin 7 times Zimmerman only once – and no sympathy for Zimmerman I guess

2) The mix of formal and informal. Trayon is only mentioned by his full name. GZ is “Mr. Zimmerman”. Black is used twice (black folks, black neighborhoods) African American is used 15 times. But it is “Thank you, guys”, and “talking heads”, and references to Michelle and the Kids.

3) Some odd, to me, word choices and phrases: The Trayvon Martin *ruling*- The *juries* were properly instructed- is also knowledgeable- that dishonors what happened to TM- I’m still *bouncing around* with my staff - further *professionalize* - it *resourced us* - bolster and *reinforce* our African American boys - wringing as much bias out of myself - it *actually* did just two simple things

4) He likes to list more than two attributes, hence: peace and security and order- altercations and confrontations and tragedies- business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes

phx said...

I don't know if the observation of the "summoned" word ("so commanding!") is worthwhile reading or thinking about. You can of have to guess at the level of irony intended so it seems to me. I would guess it would vaguely stir up either anti-Obama or anti-NYT sentiments, probably the advantage for the writer is it "hits" both.
It seems to me that's what executives do, I'm not sure I'd find anything negative in that. I think it would probably stir up the negative in others though, and if I believe there's really nothing right or wrong with NYT using "summoned" or Obama actually summoning his aides. So to use it would seem a little ... wrong.

William said...

Given that there is pretty clear evidence that Trayvon Martin was a bit “thuggish” (shall we say), and given that the shooting resulted from a fight between two guys in the wrong place in the wrong time with the wrong attitudes, I think the president’s comments scratched the scab off of our nation’s race-relations wound. The president seems to think that we white people don’t know what it’s like to be a black man, and that it is his role to clue us in.

For him to have singled out THIS case – where the verdict is in and Zimmerman is not guilty – and ignore the hundreds of cases where there is black-on-white violence is hugely disingenuous. How about the Antonio West, the little white boy in Brunswick, Georgia who had his life snuffed out back in March, allegedly by two Black gangbangers? Is that not worthy of comment?

What happened in Sanford was indeed tragic, but the president spoke as if the victim had no, zero, zilch responsibility for what happened. The facts indicate otherwise, and the president had to have been aware of the facts.

All in all, it was typical Obama disingenuous, self-serving nonsense. What did he really say? How did he really lead? What changes will result?

jimbino said...

Racism is alive and well in the national parks and forests of Amerika.

Sure, one of the first things Obama did after first inaugurated was to take his family to the Grand Canyon, et. al.

They were no doubt the only Black faces to be seen there that day, except maybe for Obama Mitbringsels.

I'd like to see Obama offer to CONvey, by bus if necessary, some Black Amerikans to enjoy a couple of the national treasures they partly own and continue to pay for, but have never seen.

narciso said...

Professor, this is what he lectured on at Columbia, from what he learned from Derrick Bell and Roberto Unger, it is dissapointing but not surprising,

Bob Ellison said...

edutcher said "Pardon my skepticism, but I think 5 of his closest advisers summoned him, not the other way around."

Remember that Obama said "I think I could probably do every job on the campaign better than the people I’ll hire to do it...It’s hard to give up control when that’s all I’ve known...I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. ...I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director."

These are the signs of a narcissist who is incompetent at managing and motivating people. It's quite likely that Obama called "five of his closest advisers" in and told them what's what, because he's the smartest, most talented, bestest person ever, and he knows it.

ThomasD said...

If Obama really wanted there to be a conversation on race in America perhaps he could have said something that hadn't been said before. Or at least hadn't been said by a politician before.

Gone out on a limb or something.

But that might be asking too much from this Presentdent.

phx said...

If Obama really wanted there to be a conversation on race in America perhaps he could have said something that hadn't been said before. Or at least hadn't been said by a politician before.

Gone out on a limb or something.

But that might be asking too much from this Presentdent.


I disagree with this since there's not a lot new to be said about the issue of race in America, no real new combinations of thought either. The idea isn't that the President should be better or newer than all the rest of us. It's that he should among the best of us.

Now that wouldn't be asking too much.

Ex-prosecutor said...

It seems to me that the racial feelings in this case could have been dramatically altered had the names of the two participants been different - Travon, for instance, to a more black sounding and lower class name such as Letavious or Antwon and Zimmerman to a Latino name, such as Juan Romero. "Justice for Letavious" would not have the same tug, and a Latino name for Zimmerman might engage them in his favor.

rcocean said...

I think it should be subtitled:

"I feel your pain and please don't riot"

Pianoman said...

exhelodrvr1 said:

He should have brought up the fact that so many people, particularly blacks and the media, ignored Zimmerman's mixed race, when trying to make this a white-black issue.

And J.R. said:

It feels to me like we may finally be seeing the death of the racialization of all things. The President spoke in order to lift the current agony of the black community. But the community, excepting the usual suspects, Sharpton, Jackson, NAACP, etc., doesn't seem united in the belief that the Zimmerman case is about race.

I think he specifically chose NOT to bring up "mixed-race", which keeps his comments in accord with the rest of the "black community". In other words, the President wasn't addressing most of the country; his message is focused towards those that are enraged by the verdict.

J.R. is correct IMHO; we are seeing the end of racialization. Zimmerman was mixed-race with a black great-grandparent (Zimmerman is an "octaroon"), which means he has the same amount of "black" in his lineage as Homer Plessy. And yet the media were so committed to making this a racial incident that they ignored Zimmerman's actual racial makeup. The media coverage has had an aura of desperation in it from the start of the case -- when the phrase "White Hispanic" first appeared.

President Obama can't take the conversation in that direction, however, and it's easy to see why. It would have the potential to cause deep division within the Democratic Party.

I don't blame the President at all for this. He is trying to give the race-baiters some satisfaction, while at the same time allowing the "system" to operate properly. In doing so, I believe he is trying to get the "black community" to acknowledge the Rule Of Law, and to also understand that these laws benefit everyone -- not just "white Hispanics".

It looks like Sharpton/Jackson/Etc are moving forward with "Justice For Trayvon" rallies, protest marches, and a possible boycott of Florida. If that's all that happens, and if the President's remarks are the reason that there ISN'T rioting taking place, then I think it was well worth it.

One other thing that occurred to me. While White Gospel preachers commonly use alliteration to make their points, Black Gospel preaches more commonly use poetic techniques. It's more rhythmic and musical. I wonder if the reason for using the "cons" is not only for purposes of memorization, but is also a way for the President to use that same kind of poetic technique ...

Hagar said...

I would think most black people, and especially those living in high crime areas, would be greatly opposed to any suggestion that suspicious characters in their neighborhood should not be checked out as well as to any restriction on their rights to defend themselves and their property when under attack.

traditionalguy said...

I found it interesting how sensitive Barack Obama's views were. But the old Civil Rights hustlers, such as Jessie Jackson, came off as old fools.

Charles Barkly's quotes, posted by the Professor, were a complete summary of what most people took from the Zimmerman TRIAL.

And those results required an uncensored trial on TV for three weeks followed by a just Jury verdict. Hurray for the results, and Good job, you lawyers.

tim maguire said...

Was anybody (really, anybody?) looking to Barack Obama for wisdom to raise the tone of the discussion?

Anybody?

It is interesting, however, as others have pointed out, that Obama confessed to being a violent street thug in his youth (because, of course, it really is all about him).

He's so darn presidential.

Michael said...

It makes me sad to listen to the President. He says nothing somewhat prettily. Cliches for the most part. Ideas that have made the rounds these fifty years now,hollowed out by overuse. I get the feeling that even he is painfully aware of the disappointing performance of his self identified race after all these years, the glaring decline in values, the worship of celebrity, the disdain for learning. For grammar. For self examination. And so we are treatd to another invitation to a conversation. Another opportunity to make plain to the race he claims that they are victims of oppression, hate. And these people are telling their children that this one-off event is a tracing of the character of their country, a thing they should fear and perhaps even expect from their oppressors.

Michael said...

It makes me sad to listen to the President. He says nothing somewhat prettily. Cliches for the most part. Ideas that have made the rounds these fifty years now,hollowed out by overuse. I get the feeling that even he is painfully aware of the disappointing performance of his self identified race after all these years, the glaring decline in values, the worship of celebrity, the disdain for learning. For grammar. For self examination. And so we are treatd to another invitation to a conversation. Another opportunity to make plain to the race he claims that they are victims of oppression, hate. And these people are telling their children that this one-off event is a tracing of the character of their country, a thing they should fear and perhaps even expect from their oppressors.

Tim said...

Did the race-obsessed media miss the obvious about Trayvon Martin?


All the media now is debating whether Zimmerman racially profiled Martin because of his 311 call when he said "This guy looks like he is up to no good, or he's on drugs or something, It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about"

So with all this dissection of what Zimmerman was thinking at the time, maybe we are missing the obvious. I have seen lots of people who look like they are on drugs just walking around and looking about -- especially in airports and grocery stores. They always strike me as very strange or even crazy.... they are talking to themselves and just staring around, not even paying attention to where they are....

Then I notice they are .... talking on a blue tooth mic hidden in their ear bud.

Trayvon Martin's friend who he was on the phone with, Rachel Jeantel, testified that he was talking on a bluetooth phone connection with a mic on the ear bud line.. So Trayvon was talking into the air with no cell phone near his mouth or ear.

Maybe all this commotion about "racial profiling" is really about "bluetooth crazy people profiling" that I am guilty of several times every week?

Hagar said...

"Stand your ground" does not just refer to defense with guns.
If Zimmerman's head had hit the edge of the sidewalk so that Zimmerman had died or been severely brain damaged, Trayvon Martin would have been the defendant in the case, and would most likely have claimed the "Stand your Ground" statute in his defense. Would it have held up?
Well, Trayvon Martin then would have been the sole survivor, and it would be his story that was told.

People should think a little more about this before they jump on anyone's bandwagon.

Uncle Jimbo said...

I would add CONfused. His comments on self defense and stand your ground were CONtrary to the law. Kinda embarrassing for a guy with a degree from Harvard Law. Might indicate why he never published anything in the Law Review.

http://www.blackfive.net/main/2013/07/obama-misarticulates-self-defense.html

Cordially,

Uncle J

jono39 said...

Everyone seems to be overlooking that it was a deliberate intention of Obama that radicalized the death of Mr. Martin in the first instance. Mr. Zimmerman's grandmother was African-American (0ne of them). While I personally reject all of this racialization of blood, in America, one black grandmother qualifies you as black in the Ivy League and every leigslative program our moronic courts and legislatures have crafted since 1876.
Obama is at least as incompetent as his two predecessors. What he is doing is what passes for bully pulpit and policy in his cynical world.
The sewage has been rising for some years now but the rtate is accelerating.

Kirk Parker said...

gadflyjohn,

Please don't make it sound like mistakes only accompany door A. You don't have to be Radley Balko to think the police are fallible, too!

Johanna Lapp said...

A more apt Dylan song metaphor would be "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts."

Big Jim profiling the Jack, a hanging judge, boys lying on the ground, Lily thinkin' about the law, the leading actor in a monk's hood.

"No one knew the circumstance,
but they say it happened pretty quick
The door to the dressing room burst open
a Colt revolver clicked..."

But for all the onstage sound and fury, the distracting hullabaloo and spectacle, nobody's paying any attention at all to the nonstop drilling in the basement wall.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

I appreciated the remarks of Charles Barkley. What has gone on in the public arena since the trial of George Zimmerman has a tribal Lord of the Flies 'Kill the Beast' quality to it. What the book lacked was a reason for the projection of evil which was to be projected into the other. In this case the violence of TM is ignored, his youthful homophobia and all fault is projected into GZ who came into his circle of consideration. So we have a completion of the 'Kill the Beast' orgiastic excitement. I am genuinely shocked at its primitiveness. The president's remarks are a minor help but certainly don't acknowledge my perception.

mtrobertsattorney said...

Obama, briefly, mentioned black on black crime and the disproportionate black crime rates. But then he quickly backtracked and implied the reason for this was the legacy of slavery.

I don't find this explanation accurate or helpful. First, Thomas Sowell has shown it to be false in his studies of black crime rates in the 1930's and 40's. Second, it proposes a cause that is intractable. And third, it offers an easy excuse to the perpetrators.

Revenant said...

If Zimmerman's head had hit the edge of the sidewalk so that Zimmerman had died or been severely brain damaged, Trayvon Martin would have been the defendant in the case, and would most likely have claimed the "Stand your Ground" statute in his defense. Would it have held up?

Almost certainly not, since there iss no evidence Zimmerman either threatened or attacked Trayvon Martin. "I was beating his ass and noticed he had a gun in a holster, so I killed him" is not a legitimate defense under "stand your ground".

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

It is not illegal to follow another person. It is illegal to assault them, absent imminent threat. Trayvon Martin was fatally stupid, and he broke the law.

What I find remarkable about this all is that Mr. Obama is now and once again occupying himself with an issue at a level which in other circumstances would never make it anywhere near a CEO's desk.

He must, therefore, have a potent reason for getting involved. It is, of course, and once again, from Alinsky: "Rub raw the sores of discontent." This case has always been about pushing black turnout in whatever the next election happens to be. Doubt me? Name one other black victim of gun violence ...

Left Bank of the Charles said...

President Obama masterfully waited for the day before the scheduled big rallies, warned Al Sharpton and the other organizers he would put any violence on them as a dishonor of Trayvon Martin, signaled in a roundabout fashion that Trayvon had no right to kill George Zimmerman for being a crazy ass cracker (for which brother Robert Zimmerman thanked him), then completely undercut Eric Holder by all but closing the federal civil rights investigation and calling off the national conversation on race.

We'll see if it works, but the President may have just earned his Nobel Peace Prize.

Hagar said...

@ Revenant,

If Zimmerman was dead or incapacitated, It would be Trayvon's story that was told, and it almost certainly would have claimed that Zimmerman swung at him first.
The gun would have stayed in its holster until the ME stripped the body, and would not have been a part of it, unless someone bothered to wonder why Zimmerman had not pulled it, which is unlikely, since there just never would have been a court case.

Which brings to mind; with what is now known, do we know the identity of the person who put the Martin/Zimmerman "incident" on UTube 3 weeks after the shooting, and whether this person is an employee of the Civil Rights Division of the DoJ, or related to some such employee?

Matthew the IRS agent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kansas City said...

To me, Obama almost always disappoints. I thought what he said about context was somewhat helpful to understand how blacks feel about the Martin situation. The part about him, it is always about him, was stupid. Would he 35 years ago have looked for the chance to beat the crap out of a guy who was "following" him. His falure to say anything of an even vaguely sympathetic nature about Zimmerman was bad. Obama seldom really acts as president of all the people. What he has a chance to make a difference, he fails.

Matthew the IRS agent said...

Only five companions? What happened to the other seven?

Jupiter said...

So, the President wants me to understand that if I am driving in my neigborhood, and I see one of Eric Holder's people walking around, I need to stay in that car unless I want my cracka ass beat. But don't lock the doors.

Michael Ryan said...

Perhaps the speech has already had a desirable effect?

Your later post notes that hundreds turned out for the rallies today. Really? Hundreds? Not hundreds of thousands? Hundreds of African Americans (and others) took part in these rallies while around 40 million stayed home?

Kirk Parker said...

Johanna,

"a Colt revolver clicked..."

You know the saying: the second-loudest sound in the world is "click" when you expected to hear "BANG!"

Henry said...

Thus, we contrarians are summoned to the comments.

Always set aside an empty chair for the sixth con.

caplight45 said...

It may have been that the President's speech was in part an attempt to boost the turnout at the Trayvon Exploitation Rallies. I will be interested in seeing the crowd size estimates in the MSM. The numbers should be as inflated as the Tea Party rallies attendence numbers were systematically under reported.

The President has had several speeches supposedly revealing his wise and healing insights into race issues. His convention speech in 2004, his post Jeremiah Wright speech in 2008 come to mind. And who could forget the Beer Summit. But his real beliefs are to be found in his actions in the appointment of Eric America-is afraid-to-have-an-honest-conversation-about-race Holder and the racist application of the law under Holder's leadership.