In this video, President Obama gives an incredibly moving response to Texas’ Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, whose foot is perpetually in his mouth, for having the nerve to suggest that the President has been exacerbating race relations by acknowledging the very obvious reality that there is a serious problem with excessive force by police officers in this country.
Patrick, in a brazenly disrespectful fashion, repeated the entirely fabricated right-wing narrative that somehow President Obama is inciting violence against the police and not standing up for them, when in fact the President has done the complete opposite.
I’m concerned that police officers across the country — they know you support law enforcement, of course, but do they really in their heart feel like you’re doing everything you can to protect their lives? Yesterday, you had meetings at the White House and afterwards you said that tension between the police and between black America is only going to get worse. Words matter. Your words matter much more than mine.
Everything you say matters, and I would ask you to consider being careful when there is an incident of not being too quick to condemn the police without due process and until the facts are known. I know that’s not your intention, but again words have meaning. Another thing I’d like to say tonight: Consider, when you go home to the White House, to put on the blue lights. The police have asked you to do that. You’ve done it for other groups. Let’s send a strong message.
The president, however, was not about to be talked down to by a delusional radio host who believes that God is speaking to him through Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, administering a verbal smackdown in his characteristic politeness.
Let me first of all say that I have been unequivocal in condemning any rhetoric directed at police officers, so I think, lieutenant governor, you’d have to find any message that did not include a very strong support for law enforcement in all utterances dating back to Ferguson. Because I rely on law enforcement to protect me and my family just like everybody else does. So I appreciate the sentiment. I think it’s already been expressed. But I’ll be happy to send it to you in case you missed it.
But I think that the one thing that all of us need to do, you and me, is to make sure that we don’t pretend as if there aren’t potential problems in how police and certain communities interact and that, when we raise those issues or people raise those issues, that the perception is somehow that that’s anti-police. That’s, I think, what I’ve tried to express here, and I completely agree with you that protesters have to be peaceful. It’s counterproductive if you’re not.
And if we also acknowledge the fear that communities feel — if the parent sends their kid out to the store and they’re not sure whether they’re going to have a bad interaction that results in a tragic death. If we can just acknowledge this isn’t a matter of us versus them but it’s a matter of all of us together as Americans working to solve this problem, then I think we will solve it.
It’s going to take a while to get to the point where we want to be, but nobody’s more hopeful than me. I’m Mr. Hope. But we have to understand that in a country with 300 million people where the police interact millions of times with individuals, black and white and Hispanic and Middle Eastern, that they’re going to be surprised. And we shouldn’t shy away from that. But I am absolutely hopeful that we can solve it.
He then goes on to explain, for the umpteenth time, that simply acknowledging the disparity in police executions between whites and nonwhites is not expressing any dislike or lack of support for the police, that it is by acknowledging the problem that we can truly help our police become the best they can, to help them serve their communities to the best of their abilities and leave us all with a more perfect union.
Watch it here:
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.