President Obama has not hesitated to inject himself into racially charged incidents involving law enforcement. Indeed, he has not hesitated to aggravate the gravity of these incidents with his own animus.
When his friend Henry Louis Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct by the Cambridge police in July 2009, Obama went out of his way to pronounce on the officer’s alleged stupidity. Though the facts of the case were in dispute, Obama (as Ben Smith put it) showed little doubt about who had been wronged: “I don’t know – not having been there and not seeing all the facts – what role race played in that, but I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two that he Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they [sic] were in their [sic] own home.”
In March 2012, when Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman, Obama could not refrain from emphasizing the race of the decedent before the case had been adjudicated. Zimmerman was acting as the neighborhood watch coordinator of a gated community at the time of his encounter with Trayvon Martin. Obama found the race of the decedent deeply meaningful: “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” Obama observed with his usual acuity. “When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids.” Because, in case you hadn’t noticed, Trayvon Martin was black.
Two Washginton Post reporters celebrated Obama’s pronouncement: “[T]he president’s decision Friday to assertively insert himself into the controversy surrounding the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, a black Florida 17-year-old, is evidence of Obama’s evolution and rising comfort level in dealing with the matter of race.”
Last summer brought us the case of Michael Brown, the teenage thug whose death in Ferguson, Missouri was found to have constituted a case of justifiable homicide by the police officer whom Brown had attacked. Obama found Brown’s case deeply meaningful. He asserted that it exposed the racial divide in the American justice system that “stains the heart of black children.” Speaking at the annual Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner in Washington, Obama said the death of Michael Brown “awakened our nation” to a reality that black citizens already understood.
“In too many communities around the country, a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement,” Obama noted. “Too many young men of color feel targeted by law enforcement — guilty of walking while black or driving while black, judged by stereotypes that fuel fear and resentment and hopelessness.” Far be it from Obama to attempt to bridge the gulf on behalf of law enforcement.
Harris County Deputy Sheriff Darren Goforth was murdered in sickening execution-style slaying in Houston on Friday night. Two vigils in Goforth’s honor have already been held in Houston. A suspect named Shannon Jaruay Miles has been charged with capital murder in the case. Miles’s mother has come forth with an alibi on his behalf.
Goforth is white; Miles is black. Is there a racial angle? The authorities have suggested no motive other than an attack on law enforcement for the murder. Sheriff Hickman has announced that investigators would look at whether Miles was motivated by anger over recent killings elsewhere of black men by police that have spawned the “Black Lives Matter” protest movement.
“I think that’s something that we have to keep an eye on,” Hickman said. “The general climate of that kind of rhetoric can be influential on people to do things like this. We’re still searching to find out if that’s actually a motive.” In an earlier news conference on Saturday, Hickman alluded to the movement that Obama has fostered: “We’ve heard black lives matter, all lives matter. Well, cops’ lives matter, too.”
I can’t find any statement issued by the White House for President Obama on Goforth’s murder. A Google search for a statement comes up empty. I’m sure he’ll get around to it some time soon. In the meantime, it may be noted that if he had a son, he’d look like Miles.