Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sean Hannity/Trayvon Martin/Barack Obama

"When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is, Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago." - President Barack Obama (July 2012)

"Here you are, you're a liberal, probably define peace as absence of conflict.  I define peace a the ability to defend yourself and blow your enemy to smithereens." - FOX "News" host Sean Hannity (October 2009)

I was so moved by President Obama's speech to the White House press corps (and the nation) about race and the Zimmerman case.  It's hard for me to judge whether President Obama has done enough to elevate the conversation about race relations in the US since becoming president.  I am white.  I am privileged.  I was born with a lack of pigment in my skin which automatically ensures me an easy in.  SUrely people of color have a more informed opinion.  But I was proud of our president. 

First, I am proud that we have an African American president.  Proud of our country.  President Obama is not my dream president.  He has made plenty of mistakes it seems to me.  I disagree with him on MANY issues.  But, when I look back over my lifetime, the country has changed so much in the right direction.  We went from Jim Crow and segregated schools to a fairly integrated society, one in which we are moving toward racial harmony at breakneck speed (with some setbacks to be sure).  We went from a world in which it was a fantasy to have a Black man as president to that reality.

Obama's talk hit all the right buttons for me.  White people may not think about the barriers that still exist for African Americans.  He shared them with us from a personal perspective.  Our president shared what life was like for him as a young man in a world in which people are often automatically suspicious of Black men.  If that wasn't the right way to further the conversation about race in our culture, I don't know what is.  


He appealed to our innate sense of hope again, hope that we can overcome the prejudice that continues to limit our culture, hope that we could use the tragedy of Trayvon Martin's death toward some kind of positive end.  No other person in this country could have shared those sentiments nearly as convincingly as the most powerful man in the world.  No one.

"Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago." In this, he admitted his own imperfection, perhaps smoking weed, perhaps being a troublemaker.  President Obama said that he understood what it was like to have people lock their car doors as he walked past and to be followed around in stores under the suspicion of shoplifting - because he is Black.  He spoke the truth about the Zimmerman verdict when he said that... "if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different."  To say that as president of the United States - it just took my breath away.  

He asked us legitimate questions about our our beliefs and challenged us to ask ourselves - "Am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can? Am I judging people as much as I can based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy."  How can anyone logically argue with that?

Republican or Democrat, Libertarian or Green Party - We all surely realize that the tragedy of Trayvon Martin's death was the perfect opportunity for a Black president to challenge us to do better, to create and live into a better vision of our society.  There is nothing partisan about envisioning a better country.

Then came Sean Hannity...
"Now the president's saying Trayvon could've been me 35 years ago," Hannity said on his radio show. "This is a particularly helpful comment. Is that the president admitting that I guess because what, he was part of the Choom Gang and he smoked pot and he did a little blow — I'm not sure how to interpret because we know that Trayvon had been smoking pot that night." (

When Mr. Hannity says, "I'm not sure how to interpret..." does he mean that he lives in a glass house?  That he is without fault enough that he CAN throw stones?  Does Mr. Hannity mean that because Trayvon had been smoking pot that the marijuana was responsible for his own death and not the overzealous, gun toting, neighborhood watch big shot who had profiled him and was sure that because he was wearing a hoodie and that he was Black that he was probably up to no good?  

Because he wasn't up to no good.  He didn't do anything wrong.  He was a kid walking home in the rain with a can of iced tea and some candy.  Just a kid.  Just like my sons.  Like I used to be.  Like Barack Obama used to be.  

Like Sean Hannity used to be.

I sort of understand where Mr. Hannity is coming from.  He works hard for ratings.  He will do anything to get attention.  He is paid a lot of money (he has a hundred million dollar deal with FOX "NEWS").  He MUST be a clown.  It is how he earns his large living.  But I'd like to see him make a credible statement about race relations.  I'd love for him to make a positive difference in our culture.  Wouldn't it be great if he said something helpful?    He calls himself a journalist, but he is so far from unbiased that it is ridiculous.  

But it is not just Sean Hannity.  It's FOX "News".  

A new survey of American voters shows that Fox News viewers are significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources.

December 14, 2010 Yet another study has been released proving that watching Fox News is detrimental to your intelligence. World Public Opinion, a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, conducted a survey of American voters that shows that Fox News viewers are significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources. What’s more, the study shows that greater exposure to Fox News increases misinformation.

So the more you watch, the less you know. Or to be precise, the more you think you know that is actually false. This study corroborates a previous PIPA study that focused on the Iraq war with similar results. And there was an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that demonstrated the break with reality on the part of Fox viewers with regard to health care...  [Please check the links above.]

I wish I was making this up.  Sadly, no.  But Sean Hannity?  I know he has to make a living.

But he ought to be ashamed of himself.

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