by Andy Weddington
Friday, 04 May 2012
"Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs." Pearl Strachan Hurd
"You know, if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon."
That was among the words spoken by President Obama a month or so ago when he opted to prematurely weigh in on the still-to-be-sorted-out case of a neighborhood watch captain in his mid-20s killing a 17 year-old stranger walking through the neighborhood (of homes that had been regularly burglarized). That is, George Zimmerman killed the hooded sweatshirt clad Trayvon Martin. Due process will get to the bottom of what happened.
The case is not the focus of today's comment. Today's comment addresses the president's words. What did the president mean? Was he referring to the intentionally misleading photograph the media published of a 13 or 14 year-old innocent-looking Trayon? Or was he referring to the current not-so-innocent-looking photographs and Facebook page of Trayon? Or was the president referring to something else?
Last week I spent some time in the airport in Dallas/Fort Worth. Because it's healthier and more interesting, I walked between terminals instead of taking Skylink. And I spent several hours at a gate waiting for the next plane.
During the walk I passed a group of three young Marines; the oldest not more than 21 or 22. They were in their service alpha (green) uniform. They looked sharp. They looked confident. They were impressive. Their bearing was all you'd expect of Marines. Odds are rather good they will soon spend some time abroad--maybe Afghanistan.
After a couple hours at the gate a group of five young men--ranging in age 17 or 18 to early 20s--approached and sat down waiting for the same flight. They were not Marines. A couple of them wore hooded sweatshirts and a jacket on top. A couple of others wore jeans around the mid-thigh area with over sized shirts tucked in. Shoes were loosely laced and untied. Maybe their attire was high fashion, I have no idea. Regardless, they looked unkempt and as if they did not care. But beyond looking ridiculous the two wearing jeans other than around their waist were not capable of a normal gait. That was ridiculous.
The other wore a black ball cap with four large bold uppercase white letters across the front: DOPE
Whether the word was reference to drugs or a personal statement as to degree of smarts, who knows. Probably the former but the latter more fitting. A proper S or slang Z, making for plural, would have cleared up the dilemma, defining the group.
Observing these characters, what struck me was the stark contrast between the Marines and the president's remark about Trayvon Martin. And would he make a similar claim of paternity about any of the five in this crew? Why is that (such occurred to me)?
In contrast, what struck me was Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, or Mitt Romney, might have said, "You know, if I had a son, he'd look like those Marines." Why is that? But it didn't occur to me the president would have made such a statement. Why is that?
Might it be because the president has set a troubling tone by weighing in prematurely, more than once, and making an issue of color when color was not the issue?
Presidents set a tone. A president's words can certainly be more powerful than an atom bomb. And there's fallout--lingering and dangerous.
The tone in America is not so good these days. It's the president's fault. He's responsible. He's failed to live up to his promises of serving the only colors that matter--red, white, and blue.
Color. So what. Why is the president obsessed? For selfish political survival purposes only? If so, shameful. Or is there a deeper rooted problem? If so, disturbing.
It doesn't matter. The tone, a poor one, set by the president is the same. And indications are it's only going to worsen--fueled by him and supporters.
How sad. America deserves better. Much better. And soon has opportunity to vote for such.