Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Obama's Legacy of Demagoguery and Divisiveness - Ari Lieberman

by Ari Lieberman

The “Ferguson effect” takes its toll on the African-American community while race relations are at a nadir.

When Obama assumed office in 2009, there were high hopes that the first African American president with bi-racial parents would be able to bridge the racial divide and foster unity in the country. Those hopes were soon dashed. Nearly eight years later, the nation is more polarized than ever, as devastating race riots grip large metropolitan cities with alarming frequency.

Instead of offering hope, Obama gave us demagoguery. Instead of fostering unity he stoked and encouraged divisiveness. Instead of providing concrete solutions, he issued speeches laced with empty rhetoric and platitudes. Instead of calming the nation in times of crisis, he engaged in race baiting.

The first test of Obama’s seriousness in addressing race relations came just six months after being sworn in. Police officers in Cambridge Massachusetts received a call of a possible burglary in progress and responded. When arriving at the scene, they found Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. trying to force his way into his house through a malfunctioning door. The police were unfamiliar with his identity and asked for identification to establish residency. Gates instantly became irate, indignant and uncooperative. It went downhill from there. Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct, though the charges were later dropped.

An event that was essentially a misunderstanding and a local matter was suddenly thrust into the spotlight and propelled to the national stage. You see, Gates, an African American, cried racism. He also happened to be pals with Obama. Obama could have told Gates to work things out with the police or file a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board if he felt slighted. Instead, Obama stoked the flames of hate by publicly siding with Gates, claiming the police “acted stupidly.” 

Before ascertaining the facts, Obama rushed to judgment and immediately condemned those entrusted with safeguarding our security. His asinine response would set the administration’s tone for the next seven years. Obama later backtracked on his rush to judgment and offered the arresting police officer, Sgt. James Crowley, a beer but the damage had already been done. The only thing that the African American community took away from the encounter was that the police acted “stupidly,” thus reinforcing preexisting negative perceptions so prevalent within that community.

There is no doubt that some level of tension exists between various police departments and members of the African American community but the president has a responsibility to calm frayed nerves and foster understanding and outreach. Instead, Obama has done the opposite. Race-baiting, tax cheats and serial liars like Al Sharpton are frequent guests of the White House.  According to official records, Sharpton visited the White House on more than 100 occasions and that number excludes official administration visits to him.

Obama’s association with the so-called Black Lives Matter movement is also a source of concern. The White House has played host to leaders of this nefarious movement on a number of occasions. Even more disturbing is the fact that Obama has referred to BLM-inspired demonstrations as “a good thing.”

The George Soros-funded BLM movement was propelled to the national scene after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri and the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island New York. Police officers, accused of wrongfully killing the two suspects, were cleared of all wrong-doing after thorough and independent judicial and legal reviews.

Other police officers involved in confrontations in which black suspects died were similarly exonerated. Notably, in the case of Freddie Gray, an African American judge acquitted three police officers in connection with the suspect’s death which ultimately led to the dropping of charges against the remaining three officers charged with wrong-doing.

That did not stop thugs, encouraged by BLM, from taking to the streets and causing mayhem in the form of looting, beatings, destruction of public and private property, obstructing traffic and violently confronting law enforcement. Other high-profile, police-involved confrontations with African American suspects resulted in similar violent demonstrations, with BLM at its epicenter.

Of the nine high-profile confrontations with African-American suspects in recent years, four suspects were armed with functioning handguns. One was armed with an imitation airsoft pistol that had its orange marker – signifying that he gun wasn’t real – removed. All nine suspects either resisted arrest or engaged in felony evasion or other form on non-compliance. Some of the police officers were themselves African American or otherwise non-white placing a wrench in the theory that the killings were motivated by racism.

Keith Lamont Scott, whose killing sparked violent protests in Charlotte, was armed with a handgun when shot. Video footage shows that he was shot after repeated warnings to drop the gun he was holding. The weapon found at the scene was bio-metrically linked to him. His shooter was an African American police officer.

This of course, did not stop Hillary Clinton from pandering and condemning the police before all the facts were fleshed out. Like Obama, Clinton rushed to judgment because of pre-disposed prejudices and cheap electioneering.

The sad irony is that the BLM movement, which cares nothing of the scourge of black-on-black violence and gives it scant mention, has hurt rather than helped the very community it purports to represent. Cities that have witnessed spasms of anti-police violence in response to isolated incidents involving police shootings, have witnessed dramatic spikes in violent crimes, including homicides.

Significant spikes in murder rates were recorded in St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee and Cleveland. Baltimore, the city that witnessed several days of violent race riots following the Freddie Gray incident, experienced the most significant increase, up an alarming 20 percent from the previous year. Last week’s multiple shooting in Baltimore, in which 8 people, including a 3-year old girl, were wounded serves to highlight the surging crime problem.

The violence that we are witnessing in these and other inner city areas can be directly attributed to the so-called “Ferguson effect.” Police are avoiding high-crime, inner city areas for fear of adversarial confrontation with hostile elements. Pro-active, anti-narcotics operations that had been so effective in keeping crime rates down have been all but suspended.

Police officers are tasked with making split-second decisions and their lives depend on making the right decisions. If they react too slowly, they risk death. If they react too quickly, they risk termination of employment, lengthy court proceedings and possibly prison.

During Obama’s tenure, there have been at least 10 major race riots and a staggering 60 percent of Americans believe that race relations have worsened. By meeting with race-baiters and issuing inflammatory comments that bear no relation to reality, Obama has lent legitimacy to those who seek to divide America. His legacy will be stained with demagoguery and divisiveness.

Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.


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