Obama is Responsible for Racial Tensions in America Today
Racism is America’s original sin, and despite a century and a half and more of efforts to put it behind us, it is more of an issue than ever. A great deal of this is the responsibility of a man whose election to the presidency was hailed as the beginning of a new, post-racial era in American society, a man who was supposed to embody America’s rejection of racism: Barack Hussein Obama.
There were many people who opposed Obama who nonetheless hailed his election to the presidency for what it showed about the United States. There are vanishingly few countries that have ever elected as their head of state someone from a minority group that previously faced discrimination. Obama’s election was supposed to herald the end of racism and the beginning of an era in which human beings truly were judged by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin.
Things didn’t work out that way. As Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster demonstrates, throughout his tenure, Obama stoked racial tensions rather than calming them. When he took office, the Justice Department was pursuing a case against the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation in Philadelphia. Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, abruptly dropped the case in May 2009 and refused to cooperate with further investigations, giving the impression that the Black Panthers were getting away with voter intimidation because of their race.
Even worse, Obama’s response to several widely publicized incidents also exacerbated racial tensions. On July 16, 2009, black intellectual Henry Louis Gates found himself locked out of his Massachusetts home and began trying to force his way in. An officer arrived to investigate a possible break-in; Gates began berating him and was arrested for disorderly conduct. Obama claimed that the police “acted stupidly” and noted the “long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by police disproportionately,” although there was no indication of racial bias in the case. He invited Gates and the police officer to the White House for a “beer summit,” which the media hailed as a manifestation of his determination to heal racial divisions, when in fact it was just the opposite: he was taking a case of misunderstanding and disorderly conduct and portraying it as a racial incident requiring presidential reconciliation.
Obama also made matters worse yet again when a young Hispanic, George Zimmerman, on February 26, 2012, shot dead a young black man, Trayvon Martin, in what was widely reported as a racial hate crime. NBC edited a recording of Zimmerman’s call to the police to give the false impression that Zimmerman was suspicious of Martin solely because he was black. Instead of trying to calm the situation, Obama stoked the idea that Zimmerman acted out of racial hatred and said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Yet Zimmerman was acquitted of murder and the Justice Department declined to prosecute him for a hate crime.
Obama made a similar rush to judgment in the case of Ahmed Mohamed, a Muslim high school student who was arrested in September 2015 after bringing what appeared to be a suitcase bomb to his Texas high school. Mohamed claimed it was a homemade clock and that he was a victim of “Islamophobic” bigotry. Obama invited him to the White House, making the boy a symbol of the nation’s “Islamophobia” and the need to overcome it. Mohamed’s father filed a lawsuit against the school district, which was dismissed when he failed to establish that the school had engaged in any prejudice or discrimination.
In line with all this, shortly after taking office, Obama embarked upon two world tours that critics quickly dubbed the “apology tours,” as at every stop the President of the United States had some negative words for the country he governed. He had little to say about America being the most generous, and most free, nation on earth.
As Rating America’s Presidents shows, Obama did nothing to heal America’s racial divisions, and a great deal to make them worse. Bob Woodward is claiming that Trump called Obama “overrated.” That’s a generous assessment.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.
Image: David Wagner