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Rob Horowitz: Obama Leads National Conversation on Trayvon Martin

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

 

In the wake of last week’s not guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, President Obama–expertly playing the role of Educator-in-Chief–commented extensively on the broader racial context underlying the reactions to the verdict in the African-American community.

While Obama reiterated that he believed that it was a fair trial and that the jury verdict must be respected, even going a step further and lowering expectations of the likelihood of a federal civil rights case, he also explained in detail to the nation as a whole the understandable sources of the anger in the African-American community created by this result. President Obama remarked, “You know when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could be my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African-American community at least there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it is important that the African-American community is looking at this through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.”

Obama went on to say, “There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. 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 the cars. That happens to me-at least before I was a senator. 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 before she has a chance to get off. That happens often.”

The President explicitly acknowledged the fact that young African-American men are “disproportionately perpetrators of violence” and emphasized the importance of individual responsibility and accountability for one’s own actions. But at the same time, he affirmed the undeniable role of our nation’s difficult racial history in creating some of the dysfunction that takes place in poor black neighborhoods and asserted that it makes it no less painful when all African-American boys are “painted with a broad brush” because of the actions of a few.

Generally speaking, the President’s measured, thoughtful and constructive remarks were well-received. On Sunday, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), called the remarks “very impressive” on CNN’s State of the Union. The people with the most standing to comment, Trayvon Martin’s parents said, “They were deeply honored and moved. President Obama sees himself in Trayvon and identifies with him. This is a beautiful tribute to our boy.”

The praise was far from universal, however, as there were some predictable reactions from a number of the more strident conservative commentators. Perhaps the most outrageous one was made by Sean Hannity on his syndicated radio program: "Now the president's saying Trayvon could've been me 35 years ago. This is a particularly helpful comment. Is that the president admitting that I guess because what, he was part of the Choom Gang and he smoked pot and he did a little blow–I'm not sure how to interpret because we know that Trayvon had been smoking pot that night,“ said Hannity.

President Obama limited the policy specifics to a call to reexamine stand your ground laws and better police training to reduce racial profiling. However, advancing an extensive policy agenda was not the purpose of this speech. It was to educate and move the nation by speaking from the heart about a broader understanding of this tragedy, which despite the protestations of some, cannot be neatly untangled from are nation’s racial history. On that score, the President truly succeeded. But don’t take my word for it. Read the President’s remarks and judge for yourself.

 

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.

 

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Comments:

Maria Gonsalves

Race pimps must perpetuate racial hate and divide people so they can continue their insatiable desire for power. They are losing ground. White Americans voted for a man who is half-black to be their President not once, but twice. Sadly, with his divise comments on Friday, Pres. Obama lost an opportunity unique to his Presidency: to ask the greater question raised by recent Dept. of Justice statistics-- why is Obama not asking why there is a 40 percent rise in gang membership among black youth since 2009; where is there an 18 percent rise in violent crime against whites? Why has serious Violent Crimes against whites, such as rape and murder, increased by 13 percent? Why are young black men killing one another in Chicago? Is black unemployment which has skyrocketed under Pres. Obama a contributing factor to the homicide rate in Chicago?

The Bohannon Brothers were shot outside a Jacksonville restaurant last week; one of the attackers, the shooter was reportedly an African American male... a 40 caliber handgun was recovered at the crime scene. There is no outrage from Al Sharpton and the race pimps on this crime nor is there any outrage over the shooting death of a 13 month old baby boy who was shot in a robbery attempt on his mother by two black males. Crime in ramping up and we should be worried about all crimes... interesting that tonite it is being reported that George Zimmerman came to the aid of a family whose SUV was turned over on highway near Sanford, Fl. Perhaps the guy is a wannabe cop... perhaps it could also be true that Trayvon was indeed using the Skittles and Watermelon Tea to make the cocktail LEAN... yes Trayvon may unfortunately have been a drug user... the drug cocktail LEAN is comprised of Robitussin, Skittles and Watermelon Tea. Researching Trayvon's FB posts show that he engaged in broad discussion about making LEAN and using it. Sadly, using LEAN can result in paranoia and overreactions which may have caused Trayvon to bash Zimmerman's head into the concrete.

Maria Gonsalves

http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/03/23/two-teens-arrested-after-baby-shot-in-the-head-and-killed-in-botched-robbery-of-mother/

Maria Gonsalves

If Pres. Obama "had a City" -- it would look like Detroit.

Let's start facing facts about the tragedy of black on black and black on white crime rising exponentially in this country and why there is no outrage from the President over it?

tom brady

Yeah, kinda reminds me of the scene in Animal House when the drum major gets his baton stolen and the whole band is lead into a DEADEND alley. Seriously Rob, drink a little more Kool Aid.

Art West

It's disturbing when the president of the USA is doing the Al Sharpton race hustling thing (with more subtlety to be sure). Saul Alinsky is applauding from the grave, seeing his student leveraging an unfortunate situation.

Why is it, when some politically motivated person is "leading the conversation" or "engaging in dialogue" that its usually a monolog?

James Berling

It is totally inappropriate for the President of the United States to insert himself into a sensitive trial. It is all the more inappropriate for the President to take sides.

We are a country of laws. We have a jury system that has worked quite well for centuries. The jury has spoken. Does the left and Obama want to overturn the verdict, track down the defendant, and get some vigilante justice? Is that the objective? Or is this a thoughtful plan to agitate—to divide us.

A quote from one of Obama’s heroes:

"In the beginning the organizer's first job is to create the issues or problems."
—Saul Alinsky

We seem to live in parallel universes. How can Rob Horowitz and the leftists hear the President and praise him? They see an “Educator-in-Chief” while many of us see a megalomaniac. As far as McCain calling Obama’s remarks “very impressive” I think McCain is carefully weighing his words. McCain is an American hero. He wants what is best for this country. He is trying to bring us together. He is being the grownup in the room. In other words McCain is trying to do his part in filling part of the vacuum of leadership left by Obama.

john paycheck

note to editor:

the name of your media is go "local" prov.

this is nothing more than a rehash of hundreds of other national articles that could be found online in the last week as well on cable networks.

not even a mention of the "local" impact. why not have the author try journalism and interview people around the state objectively and present the views, pro and con, of rhode islanders instead of sitting in a coffee shop on the east side of providence, and doing nothing more than rehashing all these other articles.

James Berling

Then there is Rahm Emanuel’s watered down variation on Saul Alinsky’s quote:

"You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."
—Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago,
former White House chief of staff to President Obama

And what opportunities might the leftists be interested in pursuing?

James Berling

John Paycheck, we debate the national issues because the local ones are so hopeless.

sarah curran

We are without any real leadership in the house and McCain has seen this for some time,and I hope he continues to behave like the real american hero his is. Our POTUS works like the organizer he is, trying to divide and conquer. The sheep love this.

James Berling

The leftist sheeple worship their “leaders” with more reverence then the Brits their monarchy and in this case the President assumes his rightful place at the top of the “ruling class.”

Congratulations.

No thanks, I don’t like Kool-Aid.

I was also startled, as I listened to Obama’s masterpiece race speech, to hear how often the words “me” and “mine” keep bubbling to the surface. Did anyone notice that?

This guy is a megalomaniac.

Sammy Arizona

If the vigilante gun-nut Zimmerman had listened to the 911 officer and stayed in his SUV Trayvon Martin would be alive today......FACT

Instead after calling 911 from the safety of his locked SUV Zimmerman foolishly exited his vehicle to confront the unarmed teen face to face. When the police were already on the way to the scene

George Zimmerman acted as the Judge, Jury and executioner of a 17 year old kid who had committed no crime that evening

This case is NOT about race....its about MURDER

National Neighbor Watch specifically bans guns in their rules www.nnwi.org

Maria Gonsalves

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/07/23/Man-shot-Chicago-golf-course More violence in Chicago... no outrage...

David Conroy

Thank you Maria for posting comments that were informative and backed with facts, I learned something from reading your comments, which is more than I can say about he article.

Joseph Bernstein

We had another President-Nixon who weighed in on the actual guilt or innocence of the Manson "family"during their murder trial-and it almost resulted in a mistrial.Obama didn't go that far,but he should have refrained from discussing Trayvon Martin on both occasions that he did simply because the case was/is awaiting trial/awaiting action by DOJ on a civil rights violation.He should have waited until it was definitively over before referring to the case or the decedent-he should know the office he holds exerts enormous influence with a lot of people-I have always wondered if he "gets"it regarding the depth of responsibility he holds.Running off at the mouth on the Cambridge incident obviously didn't inform him very well.Rob-you and your East Side limousine liberal cabal live in a world of your own.

Joseph Bernstein

Sammy-more of your gun paranoia?Go live under a bridge.




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