Barack Obama has demonstrated lately that he’s lost when he attempts to speak off the cuff, but he doesn’t fare noticeably better when his speech writers cobble together something for him to recite.
Speaking yesterday from Warsaw, where he is attending his last NATO summit, he addressed the wanton killing of five Dallas police officers — by a black man, no less, who told police his goal was to “kill some whites.”
Attempting to stave off generalizations about the shootings, the president said that “we cannot let the actions of a few define all of us.”
That is sound advice, though Obama hasn’t always followed it himself, especially when the tables are turned. Just last Thursday, he applauded the Justice Department’s announced launch of a civil rights investigation into the shooting of Alton Sterling, a black man, in Baton Rouge, less than 48 hours earlier.
By Obama’s own admission, the details of the shooting were still sketchy. Yet, he saw no problem with imputing racism to the white officer who fired the fatal round because, in his words:
[T]hese are not isolated incidents. They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.
Putting aside the rashness of his assumptions, even if Sterling’s death does turn out to have been the work of a racist, why is his prescription not to “let the actions of a few define all of us” not applicable here as well?