Thursday, March 22, 2012

Should President Obama Remain Silent About Trayvon Martin?

Politico reports that:
It’s been a month since Trayvon Martin, the black 17-year-old Florida high school student, was shot dead by a neighborhood watchman in an incident that has sparked a national uproar. Now that the issue’s exploded into the national press, African-American bloggers, commentators and their allies are calling on Obama to personally condemn the incident.

That’s created another agonizing headache for a president who’s faced trouble when wading into racial issues before—and who’s seemed reluctant to do so every time.

“I would personally be disappointed if the first black president didn’t speak on an issue that has affected so many people so much,” said Boyce Watkins, a Syracuse University professor and community activist. “Trayvon’s death is quickly becoming a national tragedy. But even in spite of the fact that this case is so clear-cut to so many people, it still draws a line” that Obama is unwilling to cross.

Watkins noted that while Obama personally phoned the Georgetown law student whom Rush Limbaugh called “slut” on the air, he hasn’t offered condolences to Martin’s family, publicly or privately.

“It says a lot to me. I think that in the minds of a lot of people of color it speaks to the traditional double standard – that he’d call a privileged white female,” Watkins said. “Yet in spite of this disappointment, we would still make excuses for the first black president.”

Even with the added attention likely to come from the rally Rev. Al Sharpton led in Sanford Thursday and Vice President Joe Biden’s south Florida campaign event Friday, the White House says not to expect Obama to stand at a lectern and speak about the tragedy anytime soon. Though staffers and Democratic operatives interviewed Wednesday said the shooting has been a hot topic inside the West Wing — and that Obama is monitoring the situation closely — they’re wary of a repeat of the uproar caused by Obama’s 2009 offhand comment that a policeman “acted stupidly” in arresting Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates.
Is Boyce Watkins right or wrong? Should President Obama just remain silent about Trayvon Martin? Why or Why not? Tell me what you think.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

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