Said George W. Bush, appearing today, along with President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts, at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Nice picture at the link of Michelle Obama warmly hugging Bush.
Here's Time Magazine's transcription of what Obama said. Excerpt:
This is the place to understand how protests and love of country don’t merely coexist, but inform each other. How men can probably win the gold for their country, but still insist on raising a black-gloved fist. How we can wear an I Can’t Breathe T-shirt, and still grieve for fallen police officers. Here, the American wear the razor-sharp uniform of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, belongs alongside the cape of the Godfather of Soul.Obama doesn't mention Donald Trump, but last week, Obama said:
We have shown the world we can float like butterflies, and sting like bees, that we can rocket into space like Mae Jemison, steal home like Jackie, rock like Jimmy [sic!], stir the pot like Richard Pryor. And we can be sick and tired of being sick and tired like Fannie Lou Hamer, and still rock steady like Aretha Franklin....
I, too, am America. It is a glorious story, the one that’s told here. It is complicated, and it is messy, and it is full of contradictions, as all great stories are, as Shakespeare is, as Scripture is. And it’s a story that perhaps needs to be told now more than ever.
"You may have heard Hillary's opponent in this election say that there's never been a worse time to be a black person. I mean, he missed that whole civics lesson about slavery or Jim Crow.... But we've got a museum for him to visit, so he can tune in. We will educate him."It would, in fact, be a good idea for Trump to visit the museum, but I've got to say that Obama distorted Trump's statement. Trump did not say "there's never been a worse time to be a black person." That's Obama's paraphrase. Trump said:
"We're going to rebuild our inner cities because our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they've ever been in before. Ever. Ever. Ever... You take a look at the inner cities, you get no education, you get no jobs, you get shot walking down the street. They're worse -- I mean, honestly, places like Afghanistan are safer than some of our inner cities."It's a statement about "African-American communities." A slave was not living in an "African-American community." And Jim Crow was an evil system of exclusion, but to say that is not to understand what life was like in the communities where black people did live. I understand the political motivation for paraphrasing Trump's remark the way Obama did, but that paraphrase pretends not to see what Trump was saying. It's much harder — and much more important — to try to refute Trump's inflammatory statement if you're precise about what he said. And even if you did amass the historical and present-day journalistic record to refute it, why would you be smug?