Remember “We the People: Your Voice in the White House,” Barack Obama’s ingenious plan to turn every American into a community organizer by featuring a page on the Whitehouse.gov website where every Tom, Dick, and Harriet could petition the federal government? No doubt the plan was to inspire responsible Americans (meaning Democrats) to address injustices and redress grievances.
To say it backfired is an understatement. Among the petitions that gained enough signatures to warrant a response from the president was one calling for him to be brought on charges of treason and even one hilarious one calling on the White House to discontinue the petition page!
On July 6, a new petition was drafted, demanding that Black Lives Matter be designated a terrorist organization. It promptly received the number of votes needed to force a response from the administration.
Today, the White House “rose” (if that is the correct term) to the challenge. Here is the opening of the response:
You recently signed a petition asking the Administration to “Formally recognize Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization.”
In the wake of the tragic recent events in Dallas, Falcon Heights, and Baton Rouge, the President brought together law enforcement officials, civil rights leaders, activists, faith leaders, academics, and state and local elected officials this week to encourage frank conversations about the steps we can take together to build trust and ensure justice for all Americans. As part of these conversations, the President directly addressed the concern that the “Black Lives Matter” slogan, social media movement, and the associated protests are somehow inherently anti-police:
“I know that there are some who have criticized even the phrase ‘black lives matter,’ as if the notion is, is that other lives don’t matter. And so you get ‘all lives matter’ or ‘blue lives matter.’ I understand the point they’re trying to make. I think it’s important for us to also understand that the phrase ‘black lives matter’ simply refers to the notion that there’s a specific vulnerability for African Americans that needs to be addressed. It’s not meant to suggest that other lives don’t matter. It’s to suggest that other folks aren’t experiencing this particular vulnerability.
“And so we shouldn’t get too caught up in this notion that somehow people who are asking for fair treatment are somehow, automatically, anti-police, are trying to only look out for black lives as opposed to others. I think we have to be careful about playing that game, just because that’s not obviously what is intended.”
It goes on in this same pontifical vein for another 450-plus words before finally attempting a response to the petitioners’ grievance:
The White House plays no role in designating domestic terror organizations. The U.S. government does not generate a list of domestic terror organizations, and therefore we are not able to address the formal request of your petition. We encourage you to engage with your community in the ongoing discussion of how we can better build trust and safety in our communities.
This answer is partly true, partly false, and totally a cop-out. While it is true that the federal government has never designated a domestic entity a terrorist organization (which is not to say it couldn’t), it is false that the White House, used to mean the administration, has no role in designating groups as terrorist organizations. The task is carried out by the secretary of state, who as a member of the executive branch, answers directly to the president.