How does any man say this in front of grieving families?

Monday, July 18, 2016
Peter Heck - Guest Columnist

Peter HeckThe president's speech last week in front of the mourning families of five dead white police officers demonstrates he has never resigned his position as community organizer, where he learned to care little for truth and instead to use rhetoric to inflame passions and play on people's emotions.

I have been disciplining myself recently, even if you haven't noticed.  We live in a world of hot takes, of quick knee-jerk reactions. And writing daily blog posts, doing a daily podcast, being a social commentator at all these days brings the undeniable, if unwanted, pressure of being timely and opportune. I've done that before, and I've regretted afterward saying things that weren't tempered or well thought out.

It's one reason I stopped tweeting and retweeting the night of the police shooting in Dallas. It's one reason I haven't commented recently on Black Lives Matter protests and the Alton Sterling or Philando Castile cases. At the memorial service for the murdered Dallas police officers, former president George W. Bush dropped a conviction bomb on my head by correctly observing, "Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples; too often we judge ourselves by our best intentions."

I want to do better about that. And so I've waited to comment on President Obama's speech last Tuesday at the same Dallas memorial service. It's not that I didn't have strong feelings about some of his words immediately. It's because I wanted to read how his words were taken by others and try to empathize with people who have a different perspective politically, but also racially than I do.

Obama at Dallas officer memorial serviceThis is the conclusion that I have drawn in the intervening days: President Obama's speech was horrible at best, insulting to the grieving families at worst.

Now, there's no denying that I am not a fan of this president. That was evident from the very launch of his presidential campaign when he made clear his view of the role of government. His warped understanding of government's purpose was illustrated again in this very speech where he intoned, "In the end, it's not about finding policies that work. It's about forging consensus and fighting cynicism and finding the will to make change."

That is nonsense. The entire purpose of government is to protect people, their property, possessions and freedom. It does that through policy making. The truth is that Barack Obama has never resigned his position as community organizer – which is predicated around identifying a sore spot in communities, exploiting it, rallying people in a way that gains media attention and thus shames politicians into pandering to it. That's community organizing 101 – and it often cares little about facts or truth. It cares about using rhetoric that inflames passions and plays on emotions. That is what drives a community organizer – and it's what drives this president. It is what has led us to eight years of poor policy wrapped in religious sounding rhetoric that lures the masses into believing that government is their god and the president his prophet.

But that flawed view of government has been around in every speech he's given. It's not what made this particular executive lecture so abhorrent. No, from a human perspective alone, the president's speech was beyond distasteful. This was a service to honor the five white men who were murdered because of their race. None of that is in question. The officers were white. Their killer was black. Their killer said he was killing them because they were white. And this was a memorial service for them. All of these are indisputable facts.

And for some reason, our president thought it was an appropriate time to say, "If you're black, you're more likely to be pulled over or searched or arrested; more likely to get longer sentences; more likely to get the death penalty for the same crime." What in the world is he doing? What is he talking about? I don't care whether you believe those statistics or not. The president was talking about this in front of the mourning families of five dead white police officers. What would ever possess a man to say that then and there?

And he wasn't done: "We also know that centuries of racial discrimination, of slavery, and subjugation, and Jim Crow; they didn't simply vanish with the law against segregation…we know that bias remains. We know it, whether you are black, or white, or Hispanic, or Asian, or Native American, or of Middle Eastern descent, we have all seen this bigotry in our own lives at some point. We've heard it at times in our own homes….No institution is entirely immune, and that includes our police departments. We know this."

Again, I am completely disinterested (right now) in whether or not that is a true statement. That has nothing to do with whether this is an appropriate topic to discuss or lecture on at a memorial service for five white police officers gunned down solely because of the color of their skin.

What's funny is that I don't dispute the truth spoken by those in the #BlackLivesMatter movement that there is racial reconciliation that still needs to be accomplished in the United States. I don't deny that at all. But if you are unwilling to recognize that this president's speech only makes that reconciliation more difficult and more challenging, you simply are not a serious person.

Over the last eight years, President Obama has demonstrated that he sees himself as a national healer more than an executive. That comes with the territory of having never been an executive and having only been a community organizer. But the sad truth is the amount of healing that will have to be done once this man leaves office precisely because of his "leadership" is simply staggering.

Peter Heck ( is a speaker, author and teacher who hosts a weekly radio broadcast on WIBC (93.1 FM) in Indianapolis, Indiana. This column originally appeared on his website.

This column is printed with permission. Opinions expressed in 'Perspectives' columns published by are the sole responsibility of the article's author(s), or of the person(s) or organization(s) quoted therein, and do not necessarily represent those of the staff or management of, or advertisers who support the American Family News Network,, our parent organization or its other affiliates.

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