WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) — President Obama confronted racial tensions in the aftermath of last week’s deadly shootings in Dallas by urging Americans to come together, saying that the country is “not as divided as we seem.”
Surrounded by law enforcement officials and elected officials alike, which included former President George W. Bush, Obama walked a fine line between addressing racial divisions as well as the officers who face dangers every day.
Obama said that racial tensions in the U.S. “are not new,” adding that “they have surely been worse, in even the recent past, but that offers little comfort.”
“Faced with this violence, we wonder if the divides of race in America can ever be bridged. We wonder if an African American community that feels unfairly targeted by police and a police department that is feeling unfairly maligned for doing their jobs can ever understand each other’s experience,” Obama went on to say.
The sniper ambush of police officers in Dallas last week left five police officers dead, and capped off what had been a tumultuous week for the country, which saw two viral videos of law enforcement fatally shooting African American men.
“All of it left us wounded and angry. And hurt. The deepest fault lines of our democracy have suddenly been exposed, perhaps even widened,” Obama said, adding that “it’s hard not to thin sometimes that the center won’t hold and things might get worse.”
“But, Dallas, I’m here to say, we must reject such despair,” Obama declared. “I’m here to insist that we are not as divided as we seem. I know that because I know America. I know how far we’ve come against impossible odds.”
Obama’s remarks were echoed by Bush and others who spoke as well, with Bush saying that “we have never been held together by blood or background.”
“We are bound by things of the spirit, by shared commitments to common ideals,” Bush said. “At our best, we practice empathy, imagining ourselves in the lives and circumstances of others.”
In the immediate aftermath of not only the events in Dallas, but around the country, protests have broken out, some of which have proven to be violent, and responses have been different.
Over the weekend, DeRay Mckesson, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist was arrested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and was one of hundreds of protesters arrested across the country.
Mckesson eventually was released from jail and has maintained he was arrested unlawfully.
Meanwhile in Dallas, Police Chief David Brown implored protestors to get off the streets and join the police force.
“We’re hiring,” Brown said. “Get out that protest line and put in an application. We’ll put you in your neighborhood and help you resolve some of those problem.”
For Obama, this is one of many speeches he has given seeking to bridge the racial divide among Americans, but Tuesday’s speech sought to push further than he had before.
“We can’t simply dismiss it as a symptom of political correctness or reverse racism,” Obama said, adding that both sides of the debate had to come together rather than retreating to their respective ideological corners.
“Can we do this? Can we find the character as Americans to open our hearts to each other? Can we see in each other a common humanity and a shared dignity and recognize how our different experiences have shaped us? And it doesn’t make anybody perfectly good or perfectly bad, it just makes us human. I don’t know,” Obama said. “I confess, I sometimes, too, experience doubt. I have been to too many of these things. I’ve seen too many families go through this.”