On Election Day 2008, many Democrats welcomed a new post-racial America. The hideous blight of slavery and Jim Crow could never be forgotten, but our first African-American President would in some small way help atone for those sins and ultimately transcend them. Even Republicans shared the emotions of Grant Park, where thousands crying elderly blacks finally saw that America could elect a person of color.
Despite these bipartisan hopes, the nation is more racially obsessed than it has been in 25 years. In a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 63 percent of Americans think race relations are “generally bad.” Shortly after Obama took office, that number was 22 percent. In the same time period, those who think race relations are “generally good” plummeted from 66 percent to 32 percent.
Of course, Obama fans assert that this increase in racial division is due to white contempt for a black president. This is illogical since months after he took office, the American people thought racial harmony was higher than it had ever been. So what changed?
Watching Ferguson, MO go up in flames, I ironically remarked, “My favorite part about the Obama era is all the racial healing.” Little did I know how many times people would republish that line in the years that followed.
Eric Garner’s death created racial unrest in New York City. Baltimore was racked with days of violence following Freddie Gray’s death. Five officers were murdered by a black separatist in Dallas. Other law enforcement officers were ambushed in Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, and Mississippi. The police-involved shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile sparked more violent protests in New York City, Chicago, St. Paul, Baton Rouge, and elsewhere. In each case, the major media misreported the facts, stoked the literal fires, and characterized the rampages as “mostly peaceful.”
Every time an officer of any race used lethal force against a black suspect, most of them ruled justifiable, Black Lives Matter cast it as another example of privilege and white supremacy. BLM harassed bewildered customers at malls and brunches, and regularly blocked traffic on major freeways. Concerned Student 1959 tried to shut down the University of Missouri as Amherst Uprising did the same for their school.
Did Obama comment on the widespread racial unrest wracking his country? Occasionally. But each time he used his “on the one hand, but on the other” formulation that defines himself as the moral fulcrum amidst the madness. The President didn’t mention that his fingerprints were all over the riots.
Before getting into politics, Barack Obama was a community organizer. This anodyne term was created by Chicago leftist Saul Alinsky who created the position to “rub raw the sores of discontent.” Many thought Obama’s moderate sounding speeches meant he had tossed Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals in the dustbin. Instead, upon entering the White House, Obama created Organizing for Action, which has trained 5 million Americans in Alinsky tactics.
Occupy Wall Street, Wisconsin’s anti-Walker protests, and Black Lives Matter didn’t arise of their own accord. They were the bitter fruit intentionally cultivated by OfA.
More disturbingly, Obama’s goal to “fundamentally transform America” is far from over. In his farewell speech, Obama repeatedly stressed the need for the crowd to “lace up your shoes and do some organizing.” The Hoover Institution’s Paul Sperry writes:
Obama’s presidential foundation — which hopes to raise $1 billion, roughly double what was raised for the George W. Bush library — may end up eclipsing OfA as a locus of destructive, nihilistic, antisocial activism in the post-Obama era. Obama intends to use his foundation, based at the planned Obama Presidential Center on Chicago’s South Side, to continue wreaking havoc in America and around the globe.
A “scaled down” version of OfA will reportedly reside at the Barack Obama Foundation whose website states ominously, “As President Obama has said, the change we seek will take longer than one presidency.” Obama’s “historic candidacy was never simply about winning an office; it was about building a movement to tackle challenges that would define a generation. This work will live on in the Obama Foundation, which will inspire citizens across the globe to better their communities, their countries, and their world.”
When I said, “My favorite part of the Obama era is all the racial healing” two years ago, I thought I could retire the tweet in January 2017. But perhaps the Obama era is just getting started.