As our traveling sage President returns from his most recent lecture tours of Europe and Africa, he returns to a country (ours) that is on the cusp of something much worse than economic stagnation and chronic joblessness: widespread racial unrest. The Zimmerman trial is winding down in Florida, and it is becomes increasingly likely that he will be acquitted, but two disturbing facts accompany the end of the trial: the threat of racial violence has not been this great since the early 1970s, and the trial that has inflamed this latest racial anger could have been avoided entirely but was purposely prosecuted in order to inflame racial anger in Florida and throughout the U.S., probably to further certain political careers. As John Lott points out in his analysis: “It is a case that prosecutors should never have brought, but they let politics influence their decision.”
What does this have to do with Barack Obama? Everything. When Angela Corey was making her decision to proceed with charging George Zimmerman with 2nd degree murder, she knew that the President of the United States, the first black POTUS, who had the power to influence the federal justice attitude toward the case as well as the black public opinion about it, needed to be on board with the prosecution. So, when prompted, what did this man do? This man touted as the first “post-racial” President? Did he head this off at the pass in order to make sure that race did not enter the prosecution of the case? Did he make certain that justice would be done in a colorblind manner befitting a just and post-racial nation? No, he did not. He prejudged the case, doing everything but declaring Zimmerman a racial bigot and murderer and then he made it personal by opining about Trayvon Martin being his imaginary son!
Past misjudgments may be forgiven, but the real test of Barack Obama’s racial legacy will be what he does now. After bravely solving the Irish troubles (it was their religious schools all along!) and lecturing Africans about accepting homosexuality and birth control and baby-killing, will he have the courage to tell his dearest constituency that they need to let this one go for the team? As BigFurHat at IOTW just asked today, “When will Obama get on the Tee Vee and ask black people not to act stupidly?” Like this? When, indeed?