President Obama’s recent speech to newly-minted Howard University graduates was widely praised.
‘Obama gets all in his blackness,’ gushed NPR, putting your tax dollars to work. Another writer described the speech as ‘one of the best and blackest he’s given.’
Not all observers were quite so impressed.
David Clarke, the black sheriff of Milwaukee County, opined that President Obama ‘never misses the opportunity to play the race card.’ And Rush Limbaugh, with his characteristic understatement, described the talk as ‘hideous.’
A great and honest dissertation on race? Or a shameless and pandering message to a sycophantic audience?
The truth, as usual, lies somewhere between those extremes.
Perhaps the talk was most notable for what was not in it. There was not a single mention of fatherlessness or the disintegration of the black family. Not one!
The president, while decrying an ‘unfair and unjust’ system and a ‘justice gap,’ never once brought up the scourge of single-parent families.
A major theme of the president’s address was how much things have changed in America since his college graduation in 1983. Coincidentally, in that very year the New York Times published a story lamenting the fact that 55% of black babies were being born to unmarried mothers.
And now? That number is north of 70%, a complete and utter social disaster.
President Obama decried the number of black Americans behind bars, but apparently he does not notice the correlation between fatherlessness and criminality. Rather, cloaking himself in that accent he dons for certain occasions, the president implied that our drug laws are simply too harsh.
Two items in the president’s much-lauded speech stand out as particularly ill-chosen. First, this: ‘We can’t just lock up a low-level dealer without asking why this boy, barely out of childhood, felt he had no other options.’
Is he serious?
This is progressivism at its absolute worst, implying that a young man simply had ‘no other options.’ What an insult to the millions of teens who take entry-level jobs and try mightily to work their way up. The president, rather than excusing drug dealing, should be lauding those who eschew the lazy and immoral path of criminality.
Even worse was the president’s conscious decision to praise the odious group Black Lives Matter. No room in the speech for family disintegration, but plenty of time to mention BLM. Not once, but twice.
We should be very clear. Black Lives Matter is a hateful, radical group that doesn’t much like free speech, as Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton learned when they were shouted down by BLM ‘activists.’
Black Lives Matter isn’t too keen on cops, either. Who can forget their lovely chant, ‘Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon?’
But this is a group that President Obama chooses to hold up as a model of citizen activism? C’mon, Mr. President. What about your own very worthy initiative ‘My Brother’s Keeper,’ which tries to help young men get their footing in life?
Two mentions of Black Lives Matter, a big shout-out to Beyoncé, but nary a word about a corrosive culture that too often glorifies violence and anti-social behavior.
At his best, President Obama uses his presidential pulpit to stress responsibility, family values, faith, and individual initiative. At his worst, he tells black Americans that the deck is stacked against them, that the country remains an unjust and unfair place.
We should all hope that President Barack Obama spends his final eight months in office – and his long post-presidency – urging people to avoid excuses and take responsibility for their lives. Not just black Americans, but all Americans.
Howard University was not President Obama’s finest moment. He pandered to his audience, gave them just what they wanted to hear. That’s not the mark of a true leader.
Mr. President, you can do better. So much better.