If you are sickened by the depraved actions of four black Chicago teens who kidnapped a mentally challenged white man, bound and gagged him, and subjected him to 48 hours of racist hate-filled torture, join the club. “Sickened” is the operative descriptor for how Americans — even apologists among us — are receiving news of this unspeakable act, which has belatedly been upgraded to a hate crime.
Well, most Americans are sickened. The president of the United States hasn’t officially weighed in on the story, though his mouthpiece, Josh Earnest, told reporters during yesterday’s press briefing that “he’s confident [President] Obama ‘would be angered by the images that are depicted on that video.'”
How comforting: Obama would be angered. He might even be outraged, but since he has chosen not even to acknowledge this act of barbarism, let alone issue a public statement on it, we have only the assurances of his press surrogate to go by.
Not that one of his standard-issue heartfelt pep talks would suffice this time. As Piers Morgan observes in a must-read piece in the Daily Mail, this was “not a quick, spontaneous assault. The victim is believed to have been held for up to 48 hours. The live Facebook stream itself goes on for more than 30 minutes.”
And what goes on during this interminable video?
These smirking scumbags tie him up, gag him, kick him, punch him, scalp him by viciously slashing his hair with a knife, and flick burning cigarette ash on the head wounds they inflict in the process.
They laugh, they jeer, then one of them shouts: ‘F**k Donald Trump, n***a, f**k white people!’
Another urges the victim to say, “I love black people.”
And then they force him at knifepoint to say, “F**k Donald Trump.”
It’s not just that Obama has been so vocal — one might even say instigatory — when it to crimes perpetrated against black people. It’s that this is an act of such pure, unadulterated hatred, and one driven unambiguously by racial animus, that it requires at least the president’s attention.
Morgan asks readers to imagine that the races were reversed, that the victim had been black and the assailants white. But there is no need for that. What I perceive is a need for is for America’s first black president to use his bully pulpit, before relinquishing it in two weeks, to speak directly to African America — to tell black parents to tell their children that white people are not their sworn foes, that blacks alone are not victims of racism. I realize this would probably be difficult for Obama, who has forsworn his white heritage, but it is necessary. He has chosen to deliver his farewell address to the American people next Tuesday in his adopted hometown of Chicago, which gives him an easy segue since that’s where this act of depravity occurred.
Some will argue this is neither the time nor the place. That may well be true. But if Obama leaves these much-needed words unsaid before he leaves office, his legacy will include cowardice.