On February 29, 2012, conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh initiated a series of degrading, insulting, and scandalous remarks about Georgetown University Law Center student Sandra Fluke. Based on Ms. Fluke’s statements in her speech to House Democrats in support of mandated contraceptives for women, Mr. Limbaugh came to the conclusion that Ms. Fluke was a slut. In a fantastic leap of logic, Mr. Limbaugh concluded that the fact that Ms. Fluke wanted insurers to provide no cost contraceptive coverage meant that Ms. Fluke wanted to be paid to have sexual intercourse and that made her prostitute.
For three days Mr. Limbaugh used his globally syndicated radio show to make his vicious verbal attack against Ms. Fluke. On the third day, in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Ms. Fluke announced that she had received a call from President Barack Obama just before she appeared on the program. Ms. Fluke said that Mr. Obama gave her words of encouragement and support and thanked her for exercising her freedom of speech about the concerns of American women. Ms. Fluke was understandably touched. She admitted that what was really personal for her was that Mr. Obama told her to tell her parents that they should be proud. It meant a lot to Ms. Fluke because Mr. Limbaugh had used his show to pose the question whether or not her family would be proud of her. During a trying time she appreciated the gesture so very much.
The White House said that Mr. Obama made the call because he wanted to offer his support and express his disappointment to Ms. Fluke that she had become the subject of such an inappropriate personal attack. The President thanked her for speaking out on public policy as a private citizen. When White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked what Mr. Obama thought about Limbaugh’s comments, Mr. Carney said that the President found it reprehensible that those kinds of personal and crude attacks.
On February 26, 2012, three days before the thirty year old Ms. Fluke was verbally assaulted by Mr. Limbaugh, a seventeen year old Trayvon Martin was confronted by twenty eight year old George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. The confrontation turned deadly and Trayvon was killed when Mr. Zimmerman pulled out his nine millimeter Kel-Tec pistol. According to reports, Trayvon Martin was murdered by a single bullet wound to his chest. Despite a series of 911 calls made by people in the vicinity of the killing where Trayvon could be heard in the background pleading for help before being shot, and Mr. Zimmerman’s own emergency operator call where he says that Trayvon was trying to run away from Mr. Zimmerman, despite the fact that Mr. Zimmerman admits that he was chasing the young black teenager and initiating a confrontation, Mr. Zimmerman claims he was being attacked and fatally shot Trayvon in self defense.
The police took Mr. Zimmerman for his word claiming there was no evidence to contradict his story. The only other eyewitness to the sequence of events had died. Mr. Zimmerman went free as Trayvon Martin’s body went to the city morgue and sat for three days before the police gave his parents the horrible news of what happened to their son. To this day, there has been no indication of any call from President Barack Obama to the parents of Trayvon Martin to convey his disappointment about a fatal attack on a young black teenager and the cover up by the Sanford, Florida police to hide at best their ineptitude, at worse their blatant racial bias that prevented a thorough investigation of a possible crime of murder. Chances are pretty high that Mr. Obama will never make that call.
President Obama rarely injects himself into matters of race that pertain to black people. The majority of times Mr. Obama would probably do so would be to defend his self from accusations and insinuations that he is racist against white people, like all the times it was suggested that he went to Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ to hear anti white propaganda even though many of the people who fervently pushed that suggestion are the same ones who would accuse him of being a Muslim. The only other time Mr. Obama spoke of matters of race was when he used his Father’s Day address at the Apostolic Church of God in 2008 to berate black fathers for their lack of responsibility to support their family. Otherwise, Mr. Obama appears to be under the assumption that issues of race just aren’t all that big a deal here in America.
It is well understood that if black people would just do the right thing and keep their nose clean they too can achieve the American dream. If Mr. Obama had made that call to Trayvon’s parents, he’d probably chastise them for their inability to keep their son under control. Just like black men with children have a reputation for being irresponsible, young black men have an even greater reputation for irresponsibility and criminal behavior. Everybody knows that if there is an altercation between a black male and just about anybody else that the black man is guilty until proven innocent well beyond the most unreasonable doubt. That rule holds even when the black male is a teenager with nothing more deadly than a bag of candy in his hand.
In fairness to Mr. Obama, the altercation between Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke had political implications that could be used to help Mr. Obama in his bid to win reelection. For many people, the President looks good when he offers his support to a white woman being defamed by a conservative windbag. He’ll score some political points. There are no points to be gained from the President injecting his self into the senseless murder of a black teenager gunned down by an armed self proclaimed neighborhood watchman for walking home late at night and the resulting cover up from the botched police investigation.
Mr. Obama knows that it is rare for the murder of an innocent black teenager to garner national attention. On a national level there are many other cases that match the senselessness of Trayvon’s murder. Trayvon’s murder is far from being a rare event. Black men are constantly being confronted at the drop of a hat but then will be accused of being the aggressor when they wind up injured or dead. It’s why people like the ones who serve at the Sanford, Florida police department don’t bother to lift a finger to do a thorough investigation when a black man is murdered.
If Mr. Obama says anything he will be lambasted by his opponents. But then again, he gets lambasted by his opponents no matter what he does. Mr. Obama was thoroughly criticized when he called Sandra Fluke. He was willing to take that battle on in order to ingratiate himself to the women of America as the one most likely to support and protect women’s rights.
You would think the black Mr. Obama could relate to a black teenager minding his own business and only trying to get home when he was accused of being threatening. Not too long ago Arizona Governor Jan Brewer made headlines when she stood on the tarmac under Air Force One and pointed her bony finger at the President not too long after he descended from the plane. Later, when she was asked what circumstances led to such a blatant disrespect of the President, Ms. Brewer said that she had felt threatened. Lucky thing for Mr. Obama Ms. Brewer wasn’t the Governor of Florida. Just imagine what could have happened.
But there is nothing for Mr. Obama to gain as a supporter of black people. Mr. Obama already has the majority of black people in his favor. From a political perspective there is nothing to gain from him reaching out to the parents of a murdered black teenager. In fact, he’d probably open himself up to a can of political whoop-ass that would cost him far more than he would gain. It’s just the way our national collective responds to issues of race when it involves black people.