All week, the relatives of the slain in Charleston insisted “this is not about politics,” when asked about topics like the Confederate flag or gun control. They turned the topic to the faith of the fallen and the forgiveness to be found in Christ.
That ended Friday when Barack Obama showed up, fresh from his victory lap on gay marriage
Obama paid tribute to the grace of God early in this speech that looked as though, for about ten minutes, it might actually be worthy of the event.
Obama allowed that “God works in mysterious ways,” and paid tribute to how the expressions of forgiveness for what he kept irritatingly referring to as “the alleged killer” brought the community together.
I was even willing to give him a bit of a break on supposing that Emanuel AME Church was a sacred place because it was a place for social justice, because I don’t really expect him to think it’s a place where people found Jesus, and that was what gave them the strength to act as they did in the wake of unfathomable grief.
For a minute, I thought he had actually learned a little something from the Christian witness in Charleston.
I could even stomach his cheap jumping on the Confederate flag bandwagon for a minute, as long as he stayed on the grace of God bandwagon too.
But, as Barack Obama implied in his Marc Maron interview, unity just isn’t in his DNA. So after all that, the community organizer — the Divider in Chief — went to work.
We got a laundry list of America’s continuing sins. A reference to the myth of Republican voter suppression being by far the most egregious, because he knows it’s a lie from the pit of Hell and in no way true.
And how Johnny gets a call back for a job, but not Jamal.
Then came a long spiel on gun control, even while he admitted that not a single one of his proposals would have prevented what happened at the prayer meeting at Emanuel AME Church.
“None of us should expect a transformation on race relations overnight,” Obama declared — and he seemed determined to make sure that prophecy was fulfilled.
“Every time something like this happens, somebody says we have to have a conversation about race,” the president declared scornfully.
No, this week people were talking about grace. But they didn’t mean gun control or the Confederate flag; that was coming from YOUR people, Mr. President.
In a breathtaking moment of hypocrisy, Obama declared it would be a “refutation of the forgiveness of the families” if we act like the other side of the debate in America are bad people and not of goodwill. But there is no one in American political life who engages in that practice with the persistence of Barack Obama. No one.
Barack Obama said it would be against “everything Reverend Pinkney stood for” to go back to “business as usual,” after this event.
I agree. But by the second half of his speech, Barack Obama was back to business as usual.
And he is confident that long after the cameras stop seeking out the amazing families of the Charleston Witness Statement, or seeking out stories about the unifying way the Rev. Clementa Pinckney went about his work, he will still have the bully pulpit, and he can get back to his dividing and conquering.
I guess we will see about that.