Obama’s Remarks On The Charleston Shooting Were Unethical, And Here’s Why:

Because every tragedy is a chance to sell policies on emotion alone...

Because every tragedy is a chance to sell policies on emotion alone…

President Obama’s comments this morning again emphasized his tendency to stoop to reckless, careless and divisive rhetoric when far better is called for.

He said in part:

We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.

Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let’s be clear. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.

And it is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it’d be wrong for us not to acknowledge it, and at some point, it’s going to important for the American to come to grips with it and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively.

The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history. This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked, and we know the hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals….


1.  How does Obama know that the shooter had “no trouble getting their hand on a gun”? He doesn’t know that, and it is a misstatement  to say that this assumption of his is a fact. We know that the shooter had a gun when he used it, and that’s all. For all Obama knows, he had a very difficult time getting his hands on a gun. For all Obama knows, it took the killer months, accomplices, money, elaborate maneuvers. Or is he saying that having a gun at all is proof that it was too easy to get one? What does that suggest?

2. Obama waited barely a few hours before politicizing a tragedy, and using it to stump for his gun policies. This was inappropriate, disrespectful, crass and cynical.

3. Reasonable and enforced gun regulations are necessary and rational, but it is intellectually dishonest —and politically inept—to use this kind of an incident (or Newtown) to promote them. Nothing short of outright gun banning will stop people like the Charleston shooter from acquiring guns, and gun banning is not going to happen, ever, nor should it. The anti-gun zealots who would love to see guns banned just respond to the Pavlovian stimulus of this kind of rhetoric, and the pro-gun nuts will see this as an outright effort to repeal the Second Amendment. This kind of statement accomplishes nothing but to gin up “the base,” and, frankly, I think that’s all it’s intended to do.

4. Once again, Obama appears more interested in dividing the public for political gain than solving problems.

5. And he does it again, along different fault lines, at the end:

“The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history. This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked, and we know the hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals….”

In the nineties, Bill Clinton exploited some church burnings to claim that such incidents were on the rise. They were not, but the media happily followed along as Clinton himself made up stories about “remembering” church burnings that never occurred. Church shootings, black or otherwise, are not the same as church arson, and even rarer.  If this was the “first time” a black church was attacked, would that make the crime less alarming? More alarming? Is Obama suggesting a trend, though none exists? This is just irresponsible fear-mongering. Then this…

6. “[W]e know the hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals.” What hatred, and what “threat to democracy?” At this point, the President doesn’t know what kind of hate or diseases of the mind motivated this killing spree. His statement, our President, uses one incident to portray  the United States of America as a cross between Gaza and 1956 Mississippi. He is hyping hate, not preventing it.

This man once ran for office as a unifying leader who would bring races and creeds closer together than ever before. Now, and for quite some time, he is intentionally overstating and exacerbating racial divisions for some imagined gain.

How disillusioning and tragic.

44 thoughts on “Obama’s Remarks On The Charleston Shooting Were Unethical, And Here’s Why:

  1. I’ll wager good money that Obama had a generic form of that speech in his desk drawer just waiting for his first chance to use it. “White”, “gun”, “black victims”… then fill in a few blank lines and it’s off to the races. I’m sure he learned well from Rahm on that score.

    • He’s already done it at least twice already, it’s second nature. He doesn’t even need a script. That said, he also sounded like he knew this was going noplace and will not until there is a blue shift at the state level and a Democratic wave at the Federal level. Building a new Europe-style America on the bodies of murder victims just hasn’t played for almost seven years and he knows it isn’t going to play now. But, he must go through the motions in the hope that Hilary, his chosen successor, will be able to finish what he started wrt guns just like he finished a lot of what Bill started wrt gays and healthcare.

  2. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.

    It is a good thing radical Islamists and Nazis would never even dream of shooting up the offices of Charlie Hebdo. After all, they are in France, and mass shootings can never happen in other advanced countries like France.

    • He can’t even get the truth and recent history straight. The reason I’m so pessimistic today is partially because a nation with a president who has become that detached from reality is not in a good place. Even the best company, army, or nation can fail if it is badly led.

      • From what I can see, America is right on the verge of paralleling the Army of the Potomac at Fredericksburg under General Burnside. We’re facing a bloody disaster and most people don’t even understand the omens of it right before their faces.

  3. On any given weekend, in some neighborhoods in Chicago, there can be a comparable number of gun related injuries or deaths. I am wondering why we don’t see the President at his podium making similar speaches each following Monday morning. Also, as the subject of “gun control” us such a broad and vague topic, I am wondering what exact law or laws the President would suggest that would have prevented this particular act of insane violence.

  4. I am sure the families of those killed and injured would wholeheartedly disagree with what you said. And of course, this is the right time to point out that something has to be done. If anything, I feel your comments are divisive.

    • Bad comment. 1) The opinions of those most emotionally involved are the least useful, objective and persuasive. 2) “Something has to be done” is never a useful observation, particularly when no practical or good faith suggestion follows.

      I can’t be divisive, you twit, because I’m not President of the United States. My job is different: I get that, he doesn’t. You don’t either: you are the unsophisticated, learning-immune naif that pols shamelessly direct their divisive rhetoric toward, and you fall for it every time.

      Address my points specifically, or don’t comment. This kind of empty indignation adds nothing.

      • Here, let me guide you a bit. First, “the families” of the victims would also often advocate dispensing with trials. That’s a dumb, dumb, DUMB argument, and ethically ignorant, appealing to bias as if bias is virtue and wisdom. Obviously, it is not. That’s the argument of someone—you—who can’t formulate a genuine argument, like: A. Explain how Obama knows how hard it was for the shooter to get a gun. (You can’t). B Describe a gun control measure that will stop determined criminals who are willing to break laws from finding and getting bootleg guns that doesn’t mean making guns impossible to get for anyone. (You can’t.) C. Explain any reason why this shooting tells anyone about anything but this shooter. (You can’t.)

        So instead of using the explanations in the post to educate yourself and learn something, thus becoming a better citizen and more responsible human being, you just write bumper sticker twaddle that is accurately translated as “Oh, YEAH???”

        Learn to think, for God’s sake.

  5. Didn’t something like this happen in France earlier this year? Derp.

    Advance countries? Sounds pretty racist and provincial to me.

    • Well, he did clarify that he meant that things don’t happen in other countries “with this frequency.”

      He might even be right. I’d wager in countries with a fraction of the USA’s population, mass shootings happen less frequently than they do here.

      I’d also wager that in countries with larger populations, mass murders happen MORE frequently. Although that entire list is China and India. I guess those countries aren’t “advanced.”

      See? He’s a different kind of indefensible idiot than we think he is!

    • I find it interesting how he contradicts himself at that point. “…this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.”

      So, which is it? Does this type of violence happen in other countries, or does it happen but not with this kind of frequency?

      And please enlighten us on which countries are advanced. Is Mexico advanced? Is Brazil advanced? How about Argentina? Is Italy advanced? Russia? Greece?

  6. Barack Obama is the Michael Scott of Presidents. And to paraphrase what was once said to THAT great leader, “Can’t we just react to a tragic loss of life without making everything about you and your issues?”

  7. So what should he have said? Should he have ignored this event as ‘business as usual’? Just another crime for the police to deal with? Should he have ignored the racial overtones? Does the President have any legitimate role to play here?

    Observation 6 just seems obtuse. I know what he means and I suggest, so do you.

    • I know what he means: he’s hate-mongering, and it’s irresponsible. Nobody’s running around shooting and lynching blacks, and Catholics aren’t burning Jews at the stake. There are no race and religious wars going on, and Churches are not under attack. Obama is trying to make a general crisis out of one lone nut.

      What should he have said? It’s a tragedy, our hearts go out to the victims, all Americans should reject the kind of senseless hate that this act represents; This is attack on us all, our sense of community, our rights to live our lives; we will see that the perpetrator is brought to justice, Over and Out. You don’t start exploiting the tragedy, you don’t lie about gun regulations stopping it, you don’t suggest that the act of this lone whack job has any wider meaning, because it doesn’t.

      • There is something to be said for what Obama is saying. Currently, there IS a lot of racial hostility in this country. However, this is not the 1890’s: Since then we have done a complete 180 and most of the racial hostility is now flowing in the opposite direction. I’ll leave it there for now.

        • Oh, I’ll go further: the renewed racial hostility is substantially due to his own incompetent, cynical actions, and irresponsible words—s well as those of his appointees (like Holder) and allies (like Sharpton and MSNBC generally)— and for him to use that increased racial tension as apolitical tool creeps beyond irresponsible and hypocritical to despicable and even evil.

            • The word that came to my mind, tragically, was “asshole,” and that’s something I don’t like thinking about my President like that. But what other word is appropriate for a leader who learns of a sensless tragedy and says, “Hey, I can use this to activate the anti-gun fanatic base, link gun ownership to racism, tie those who think we need to do more to stop Islamic terrorists to people who shoot up churches, link a single racist to police advocates and voter ID supporters, make my pal Al happy, and best of all, link those who oppose me to racist mass murderers! It’s perfect!”

              So a South Carolina legislator goes on CNN and names Fox News for the shooting, because it “demonizes” Obama. Sure he does.

              • Bada bing, bada bang, bada boom! Game, set and match. And I have thought of the President as an asshole a lot longer than you. Don’t feel too bad about it, the left spent eight years calling GWB a chimp, a village idiot, a retard, and ten different kinds of jerk. They should be able to handle their guy being called an asshole. Hey, what color would Obummer be if he was run through a hydraulic press?

                  • The symptoms associated with narcissism would be considered assholish, same with those associated with sociopathy, with a darker turn (hurting animals, etc,). Frankly it sounds like all candidates for president should have to pass a psychological evaluation. We do it for cops and the military.

                    • Except that leadership ability, like comic talent, is often created by pathology. Conventionally mentally healthy people don’t become President. I think all four of the Presidents on Mount Rushmore might flunk a psych test. Adams, Jackson, Polk, Peirce, Abe, Wilson, FDR, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Clinton…probably more. The most mentally stable President we ever had was probably Gerald Ford.

                    • I have a hard time thinking Washington, a charismatic general and “great captain” would fail a psych test. Jefferson had grief issues (lost his wife, probably had affairs to compensate), Lincoln was probably bipolar or manic-depressive, and TR was probably one of the few good-aligned sociopaths. Adams would be a candidate fro Prozac now, Jackson was just shy of a rage-a-holic (and homicidal), Pierce pulled on the bottle a bit too much (but I think his son was killed right before he assumed office), Wilson was a martinet and a racist, FDR probably also a sociopath, JFK probably had PTSD among a myriad of other problems, the list goes on and on. I DO think Calvin Coolidge was pretty stable, and probably also Hayes, Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, and the other post Civil War presidents who presided over relatively uneventful times. Cleveland might also get a nod, but he loses points for marrying a girl young enough to be his daughter. I could tag Buchanan for (probably) being gay, but that’s no longer considered a disorder, and I think he had other issues.

      • When you’re near the end of your string, the majority of your initiatives have failed with one exception, your chosen successor’s coronation is increasingly not a sure thing, and you’re worried about your legacy, you make political hay however you can. That said, everyone knows the script here, we’ve been through this dance, and we know how it ends. By the end of next week or the week right after, when the SCOTUS is due to announce two decisions that will be HUGE, no matter which way they go, this will be inside page news, and Obama will be lambasting the Court for gutting his poorly written law in one breath and congratulating himself for pushing forward the redefinition of marriage in the next. What’s more, it won’t resurrect at the time of trial, if there is one, since it sounds more like tiresome racial politics than the Tom Clancy-esque story of the Boston Bomber. Apparently the suspect confessed, so maybe he will just plead to avoid the death penalty, and that’s the last we’ll hear of him in a country increasingly weary of social righteousness narratives.

  8. OK, let’s have a reasonable discussion about gun control. Let’s start with the police. Almost everyone agrees the police should have access to firearms.

    But why should police have access to firearms? Many people assume it is to protect the public, but the courts have ruled over and over again that the police have no duty to protect the public (I know many will and do, but it is legally not part of their job so they should be highly commended for it). They have firearms to protect themselves.

    What are the police protecting themselves from? Do the police travel through a wormhole and battle aliens intent on taking over the earth on each shift? No, these dangers come from criminals in the community. This may come as a shock, but the public lives in that community as well. Do you think criminals are more likely to attack a police officer, or the average citizen? The police usually show up after the violence is done. Despite this, they feel the need for body armor, fully automatic weapons, armored vehicles, and grenade launchers. If the police feel it is that dangerous out there, how can the public be denied a means of protecting themselves? Oh, and look at the flip side of this. Hillary Clinton recently said that something has to be done because it has gotten to the point where an argument in a movie theatre results in a shooting. Now, in the movie theatre, citizen CCW weapons are prohibited. So, who did the shooting? A police officer did the shooting. A police officer used the fact that he was the only one allowed to have a gun and fired in a room full of people the law disarmed. Some studies have shown that citizen CCW carriers commit fewer crimes than police officers, so who really should be allowed access to firearms?

    What does ” Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” really mean if you can’t defend them. Remember, it isn’t the job of the police to protect your life, it is yours. I saw an article in the media suggesting that handguns were only used about 200 times/ year in this country. I know that is completely made up since my town had 3 incidences in the news last month. Bill Clinton’s study found that was about 1 million times/year and his study was trying to justify stricter gun control!

    But you are just as likely to shoot yourself as use your gun in self-defense! I know this can’t be true. I have belonged to several gun clubs. These clubs have been in existence for 50-100 years each. None of them has ever had a firearms-related injury past brass-burn, slide-bite, or perhaps a cut from a malfunction. Each of these clubs has over 1000 members. They are shooting all the time at the range. The members of these clubs shoot much, much more than police officers do. If they haven’t had a single accidental shooting, it looks like it is quite possible to safely own firearms.

    Is anyone concerned that gun control measures always seem to have a vaguely racist element to them? Much of the gun control legislation of the last 50 years has concentrated on eliminating cheap guns, to keep them out of the hands of poor people. The companies Raven, Phoeinix, Jimenez, Bryco, Cobra, and Hi-point were founded just to get around these laws and provide guns at a reasonable price to people who wanted them. The areas with the strictest gun legislation have the highest rate of gun violence, but that is seen as OK because it is mostly poor, black people who are dying. Aren’t the law-abiding citizens in the poorer parts of Chicago and Washington D.C. the people who MOST need firearms to protect themselves, yet they are the ones we are trying the hardest to keep guns from. Our strictest gun control legislation was targeted at the Indians. The government said “hand in your weapons and we will ‘take care’ of you.” We all know that worked out great…for the government and for the people the government sold their land to.

    Do you really want the government to ‘take care’ of you? Have you seen the VA scandal? Have you seen the iRS mess? Have you been paying attention to Social Security? Did you look at the TSA ‘success’ rate? Does the Secret Service seem competent to protect you, much less the President of the United States?

    Oh, and then there is that 2nd amendment thing? Oh, and I don’t want to hear any nonsense about the founding fathers being worried that the government wouldn’t let the military have guns. The militia was people like Daniel Morgan. Look up Daniel Morgan and you will see he is someone we wouldn’t issue a CCW license to today, but we owe our freedom to the fact that he had firearms. We used to be a nation of riflemen. Where would we be if we had stricter gun control back then?

    • This isn’t a problem government can solve. I mean, if you want a Stalin or Hitler or Mao regime, yes they can solve it, but then you’ve got a different problem. Freedom isn’t free and soldiers aren’t the only ones who lay down their lives for a society where an individual can freely choose their actions. We can solve drunk driving deaths in the blink of an eye by banishing alcohol, we can end road rage deaths and driver error crashes by instituting self driving cars programmed by the government. We can make sure no one dies in a hurricane by having mandatory evacuations of coastal zones during Hurricane seasons.

      My heart goes out to everyone in Charleston and I thank them for their strength and courage to overcome. I hope those who died, didn’t die in vain, but more than anything, I hope they didn’t die for tyranny. If I die of a medical condition because I drink too much soda, please don’t use my death to abolish soda. If there’s something fundamentally wrong with soda, have that conversation and see if it can be made more safe but accept that maybe it can’t.

      In the case of Charleston, Sandy Hook, or Aurora, the only thing that was broken was the individual. As Tyler mentioned, it comes down to each of us noticing our neighbor and helping them. I helped a friend my senior year of HS a week after Columbine, but he still scares the shit out of people today. He’s out there like everyone else and I’m hopeful he has people active in his life that keep him from doing something truly traumatic.

      I’ll say this: Religion. I’m an atheist and would never force religion on someone else, but there are a lot of weak minded people that religion helps every day of their lives. Without God in their lives, these people might simply go ballistic, but through the teachings of their church, they develop a moral and ethical code. They understand the value of life and everyone’s right to live it.

      With our country and citizens increasingly becoming secular, people who would benefit the most from religion have no other resource to develop a moral and ethical code to guide them. Religious parents look at their kid and are fine if they don’t come to church, not realizing that they should find another way to instill ethics and fairness. Our schools won’t teach religion because they are gov’t and are now prohibited, but they didn’t realize there was a non-religious way to teach ethics and community values.

      Finally: Schools. There’s such a high focus on math and English, with little focus on how to actually live and enjoy life. Schools are cold hard places where they teach you equations to be an astrophysicist but not how to balance a checkbook, cut a piece of wood, grill a steak or make a cake. Schools don’t teach people how to enjoy life and that’s sad to me.

      • We can solve drunk driving deaths in the blink of an eye by banishing alcohol

        We did banish alcohol.

        What happened?

      • “Schools are cold hard places where they teach you equations to be an astrophysicist but not how to balance a checkbook, cut a piece of wood, grill a steak or make a cake.”

        And schools can no longer be relied upon to teach anyone right from wrong, as an increasing number of educators flat-out do not believe that either exists.

        “Beyond the widespread cheating that goes on in class — not even a question of morality, just one of ingenuity and pragmatics, according to one recent survey of students’ attitudes toward plagiarism and cheating — beyond the “hook-up” culture of easy sex and binge drinking, students no longer even recognize a moral component in the decisions they make, from the mundane to the monumental. Much of my interest in this phenomenon stems from trying to teach them the Bible, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Dostoevsky, and C. S. Lewis, the great theological and literary texts of our Judeo-Christian heritage. A few years back, I mentioned in class the Sermon on the Mount. The blank stares caused me to accuse them of laziness, until it was revealed that not one of those 32 students had any idea what the sermon said or who delivered it.”

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