Republicans are always pushing for national "conversations" about tough subjects like gun control and racism. And with good reason: it's a successful bait-and-switch strategy to keep them from ever having to actually do anything about these hot-button issues.
"What we need is an adult conversation," these empathy-bankrupt conservatives say when a violent monster shoots up a school, or when an over-zealous neighborhood-watch vigilante profiles, stalks and kills a black teenager. "Time for an honest discussion," they suggest with feigned sincerity when outrage and a demand for action comes from the left.
Yes, conservatives just love having conversations, except when it's with a black president talking openly and honestly about the kind of persistent racism in America that results in an unarmed black kid being shot dead by an armed white adult. Then they're not so keen on discussion.
Republicans have expressed anger and disbelief at President Obama over his remarks last Friday during an impromptu White House address on racism and the Trayvon Martin case. Obama spoke passionately about his personal experiences with racial profiling and discrimination in an effort to humanize the struggles black males face in everyday life.
The president's address clearly touched a raw nerve in conservatives, who ratcheted up their toxic rhetoric. Since Friday these rabid right-wingers have accused him of favoring blacks; ignoring black-on-black crime; race-baiting; and threatening the rights of gun owners.
"It is not surprising that the president uses it seems every opportunity he can to try to go after our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms," said Texas Senator Ted Cruz. "I think it is unfortunate that this president and this administration has a consistent disregard for the Bill of Rights."
"President Obama is now our race-baiter in Chief," Fox News contributor Todd Starnes wrote on Facebook. "His remarks today on the Trayvon Martin tragedy are beyond reprehensible."
"Unfortunately, President Obama is a fraud as a uniter," said former Cincinnati mayor and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who is black. "He has been an inconsequential leader of the United -- underscore United States of America."
Fox's Sean Hannity used Obama's own words to wage a reprehensible attack against him, while essentially blaming Martin for his own death because of drug use:
"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."
One conservative commentator on MSNBC's Hardball Friday night outrageously declared that Obama "is not a 'black' president." Well, he actually is, whether or not she or any other in-denial bigot wants to accept it.
Yes, white America, we have a black man in the White House. And he's the President of the United States, not the butler. So when an unarmed black teenager gets blasted in the heart at point-blank range by the deadly bullet of an armed white man's pistol under the most questionable and controversial of circumstances, and the killer is subsequently acquitted, this black president is going to speak out about it. But why is his commentary evidence, as Republicans claim, that "he's not the president of 'all' people?"
Just what do Obama's critics want? Is he supposed to pretend not to be black in order to appease white racists? Is he expected to be "presidential" and speak out when there's a hurricane, a plane crash, a school massacre or a movie-theater shooting, but avoid discussing anything impacting black people? Does discussing issues relating to blacks inherently make him biased or a race-baiter? What exactly does it mean when people demand that he be "the president for 'all' people?" Do blacks not count as people? Are they not a constituency? Is he precluded from being their advocate too because he's black?
Even more infuriating is when these racists who attack Obama claim that they have a more acute understanding of the injustices blacks experience in America and, worse, that blacks' perceptions about race and racism are overstated and outdated. To be sure, only a racist would deny that racism exists.
And look what happens when a black president attempts to have an "adult conversation" about race and racism. Look how quickly those on the right no longer want to talk. Theirs is the party that neither wants to legislate or communicate.
As an aside, when Obama's said "Trayvon could've been me 35 years ago," I wish he'd added the following sentence:"...and how many white Americans see a black boy and their first thought is, 'there goes a future president.'" That would've been a fitting punctuation on the Trayvon tragedy, and the realities that teens like him will continue to face until these empty "conversations" turn into action.