Some Thoughts on the President’s Trayvon Emoting

by Roger Clegg

1. You can’t claim to be having a serious discussion about race, crime, and African American young men without mentioning — not one word — that 72 percent of African Americans now are born out of wedlock. That’s where the “soul searching” he calls for is most needed, not on introspection about “bias.”

2. This was a decidedly unpresidential talk. How could he have thought it would be “useful for me to expand” in this way? The remarks made no pretense of uniting rather than dividing; they added nothing to what is already being said. It is being praised for being so personal, for being about what people are “feeling”; this is a weakness, not a strength.

3. It would have been better to begin with restating his earlier call that the jury’s verdict be respected, than with sympathy for the Martin family. There is more need for the former this weekend, with all the scheduled protests; there is no shortage of the latter.

4. His policy action items are either misguided (racial-profiling legislation) or irrelevant (repealing stand-your-ground laws).

5. Two good things, though: (a) acknowledging that any “national conversation on race” led by a politicians is useless (but, physician, heal thyself); and (b) the end of the talk, when he acknowledges that we all really do need to keep things in perspective, and bear in mind that race relations are getting better and better, generation by generation — that we are becoming a “more perfect Union.”

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