As Tyler O’Neil noted here, The Atlantic on Thursday published an excerpt from Barack Obama’s latest autobiography, A Promised Land, and if you want to hear about how America was never great, you’ve come to the right place. “I recognize that there are those who believe that it’s time to discard the myth,” Obama writes. What myth? The one about how America is marred by “systemic racism”? No, just the opposite: Obama wants us to drop our illusions and admit that “an examination of America’s past and an even cursory glance at today’s headlines show that this nation’s ideals have always been secondary to conquest and subjugation, a racial caste system and rapacious capitalism, and that to pretend otherwise is to be complicit in a game that was rigged from the start.”
It’s ironic that the nation’s first black president would be the one complaining about this alleged “racial caste system,” which, if it existed, would likely have prevented him from becoming president in the first place. Even if there were widespread, systemic racism in the United States, which is unlikely since it has been an offense that has been continually warned about and vigorously prosecuted since 1964, the last person who can claim to have been a victim of it is Barack Hussein Obama. It’s even more ironic that the same people who believe that his words about racism and capitalism are an accurate summation of what the United States is and has been also believe that President Trump is “racist” for not wanting to allow unrestrained, unrestricted mass migration into this sinkhole of racism and capitalist excess. If this country is so bad, Barack, why do so many people want to come live here?
In any case, as Rating America’s Presidents shows, if America does have anything like a racial caste system today, it’s largely due to the presidency of one Barack H. Obama. Throughout his tenure, Obama stoked racial tensions rather than calming them. When he took office, the Justice Department was pursuing a case against the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation in Philadelphia. Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, abruptly dropped the case in May 2009 and refused to cooperate with further investigations, giving the impression that the Black Panthers were getting away with voter intimidation because of their race.
Obama’s response to several widely publicized incidents also exacerbated racial tensions. On July 16, 2009, black intellectual Henry Louis Gates found himself locked out of his Massachusetts home and began trying to force his way in. An officer arrived to investigate a possible break-in; Gates began berating him and was arrested for disorderly conduct. Obama claimed that the police “acted stupidly” and noted the “long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by police disproportionately,” although there was no indication of racial bias in this case. He invited Gates and the police officer to the White House for a “beer summit,” which the media hailed as a manifestation of his determination to heal racial divisions, when in fact it was just the opposite: he was taking a case of misunderstanding and disorderly conduct and portraying it as a racial incident requiring presidential reconciliation.
Obama also made matters worse when a young Hispanic, George Zimmerman, on February 26, 2012, shot dead a young black man, Trayvon Martin, in what was widely reported as a racial hate crime. NBC edited a recording of Zimmerman’s call to the police to give the false impression that Zimmerman was suspicious of Martin solely because he was black. Instead of trying to calm the situation, Obama stoked the idea that Zimmerman acted out of racial hatred and said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Yet Zimmerman was acquitted of murder and the Justice Department declined to prosecute him for a hate crime.
Obama made a similar rush to judgment in the case of Ahmed Mohamed, a Muslim high school student who was arrested in September 2015 after bringing what appeared to be a suitcase bomb to his Texas high school. (Yes, Islam is not a race, but this case played out like the others above.) Mohamed claimed it was a homemade clock and that he was a victim of “Islamophobic” bigotry. Obama invited him to the White House, making the boy a symbol of the nation’s “Islamophobia” and the need to overcome it. Mohamed’s father filed a lawsuit against the school district, which was dismissed when he failed to establish that the school had engaged in any prejudice or discrimination.
Now racial tensions are higher than they have been in many decades. While it is fashionable to blame President Trump for this, the fact that he got a higher percentage of the black vote than any Republican presidential candidate had in decades is silent but eloquent witness to the fact that in this claim, as in so many others, the establishment media is spreading falsehoods. The real culprit for today’s racial discord is the man who is about to be lauded and lionized anew as his latest memoir is released. And that, behind the cant, hypocrisy, sloganeering, and propaganda in his latest autobiography, is his true legacy.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.