President Obama gave the commencement address at the historically black Howard University in Washington yesterday. Politico has posted the text here; the White House has posted the video below.
It’s not all bad, but it’s mostly bad. It goes on for 45 minutes that feel like 45 hours and features Obama’s faux ghetto speak. That’s bad too, though it’s not as bad as Hillary’s. Doesn’t anyone in Obama’s circle of love hear it as condescending?
Howard University figures prominently in the thoroughly execrable National Book Critics Circl Award-winning book by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me. It may not be the worst book ever written, but it was certainly the worst new book published last year. ABC News reports that Obama “had just motorcaded from the White House with” Coates and Obama cited Coates favorably in the course of his commencement speech.
In my view, Coates’s book gives us an updated racial hustle. By contrast, Obama’s commencement speech gives us the same old racial hustle. For example, Obama peddles the orthodox left-wing creed promoting misleading “gaps” that require the Democrats’ intervention. Obama set it up this way:
In my inaugural address, I remarked that just 60 years earlier, my father might not have been served in a D.C. restaurant — at least not certain of them. There were no black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Very few black judges. Shoot, as Larry Wilmore pointed out last week, a lot of folks didn’t even think blacks had the tools to be a quarterback. Today, former Bull Michael Jordan isn’t just the greatest basketball player of all time — he owns the team. (Laughter.) When I was graduating, the main black hero on TV was Mr. T. (Laughter.) Rap and hip hop were counterculture, underground. Now, Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday night, and Beyoncé runs the world. (Laughter.) We’re no longer only entertainers, we’re producers, studio executives. No longer small business owners — we’re CEOs, we’re mayors, representatives, Presidents of the United States. (Applause.)
I am not saying gaps do not persist. Obviously, they do. Racism persists. Inequality persists. Don’t worry — I’m going to get to that.
He returns to the “gaps” here:
We’ve still got a big racial gap in economic opportunity. The overall unemployment rate is 5 percent, but the black unemployment rate is almost nine. We’ve still got an achievement gap when black boys and girls graduate high school and college at lower rates than white boys and white girls. Harriet Tubman may be going on the twenty, but we’ve still got a gender gap when a black woman working full-time still earns just 66 percent of what a white man gets paid. (Applause.)
We’ve got a justice gap when too many black boys and girls pass through a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails. This is one area where things have gotten worse. When I was in college, about half a million people in America were behind bars. Today, there are about 2.2 million. Black men are about six times likelier to be in prison right now than white men.
Groan. Obama still feels free to peddle the frequently exposed “66 percent” canard to people who don’t know any better. And gee, why are black men about six times likelier to be in prison right now than white men? That’s not a tough one, but the correct answer is nowhere on offer. Instead we have this:
Brittany Packnett, a member of the Black Lives Matter movement and Campaign Zero, one of the Ferguson protest organizers, she joined our Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Some of her fellow activists questioned whether she should participate. She rolled up her sleeves and sat at the same table with big city police chiefs and prosecutors. And because she did, she ended up shaping many of the recommendations of that task force. And those recommendations are now being adopted across the country — changes that many of the protesters called for.
As always, the biggest gap is between truth and politically useful falsehood.
Quotable quote: “That’s a pet peeve of mine: People who have been successful and don’t realize they’ve been lucky. That God may have blessed them; it wasn’t nothing you did.”