Pres. Barack Obama is being a poor father.
That statement deserves some clarification.
On a personal level, Obama is, by all accounts, a caring, protective and nurturing father to his two daughters.
But in a presidential sense, through his comments in the volatile aftermath of the trial of George Zimmerman (and in his prolonged politicization of the Sandy Hook massacre taking full advantage of the emotional state of grieving victims) Obama is being a very lousy dad to the country.
In a family structure that has endured for eons, a father’s role is to convert chaos to order and to shape their children’s values by delivering life lessons, and paternal affection is less important than discompassionate – sometimes uncomfortable – truth.
Not to say that Americans cannot function without guidance from the President, but the occupant of the Oval Office projects an undeniable aura of influence in times of crisis. The question is whether his influence will be benign or will motivate positive or negative change.
In Obama’s Zimmerman-related remarks to the White House Press Corps on Friday, a casual and unplanned chat in which he emphasized his belief that African-Americans routinely receive unfair treatment and that slain young black man Trayvon Martin “could have been [him] 35 years ago,” the President opted against encouraging reasonable dialogue, choosing instead to fuel old smoldering grievances at a time when emotions are already running high.
Tragedy opens our soul’s door to grief and we struggle to exorcise grief in order to return to a normal and happy existence. There is plenty of grief to go around in Central Florida.
The loss to Martin’s family of a loved one is real. There is no getting around the fact that they are suffering.
Acceptance in this case would be allowing society to reach an understanding that a tragedy occurred, and the jury’s acquittal of Zimmerman is not the same as denying that one did. Though the jury sided with Zimmerman’s defense attorneys who made the case that Martin attacked Zimmerman and precipitated the events that followed, Martin’s death is still a terrible outcome.
Although Martin’s friends and family are saturated in anger and pain, does an increase in racial tensions help them to quell that pain? Do inflamed race relations and hyping interracial fears advance the interests of other African-Americans seeking a safe, productive world in which to live and raise their families? Does it benefit the millions of Americans of white, Hispanic and Latin ancestry who are now painted with the same broad brush of racism used to smear Zimmerman?
The grief of all involved is a process and denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, all are destinations and departure points on a road to acceptance. Society finds common ground far more readily after a traumatic event by finding acceptance than lingering in anger. We need to get there, and sooner rather than later.
Obama impulse to short-circuit our national grieving process by agitating keeps the entire stuck in a state of arrested social development. Most sadly, by painting a picture of a nation dominated by anti-black racism he offers no hope to blacks for a better future, only an endless struggle against white society.
Obama’s comments heighten interracial tensions create an ever more fictional narrative contrasted with the reality that most of us experience in our day-to-day interactions – there is harmony among people of different races and backgrounds that defies the mischief-inviting spin put out of the Al Sharptons, Jesse Jacksons, Eric Holders and Obamas of our culture.
Still, Obama’s comments will be used as justification by many to avoid burying a legacy of generational hatred. They only serve to escalate tension within the black community for negligible political gain with the potential of inflicting a high cost of society.
[featured image used under Creative Commons license, credit: DonkeyHotey]