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The Real Obama Legacy, Part 3: Race Relations

Obama was voted into office on the promise of “Hope and Change,” and chief among the many hopes for many voters was that there would be a dramatic improvement in race relations. This did not occur. In fact, Gallup polls showing historical trends found that racial attitudes for both Blacks and Whites were substantially worse after nearly 8 years of Obama than prior to that. Importantly, the dropoff really began in 2013, after Obama’s reelection.

Similarly, Washington Post-ABC News poll, taken in July, 2016 found 63% seeing race relations as “bad,” with a majority believing they are getting worse. Again, we see major changes in the last 2-3 years.

First, Obama’s being Black remained highly salient to Americans. The utopian dream of a post-racial America never materialized. His policies were “colored” by his name being attached to them. For example, a scholarly paper showed that racial polarization in support for health care reform was much greater in 2009–2010, when Obamacare was enacted, than under President Clinton in 1993–1994 (American Journal of Political Science 56.3 (Jul 2012): 690-704). This effect likely had ramifications for Obama’s other policies, such as immigration. “President Obama possesses a unique potential to polarize public opinion by race.” So even though perceptions of race relations did not deteriorate in Obama’s first four years, issues became racially polarized. People saw things through the lens of race.

Obama thus contributed to the racialization of politics in America. By all accounts, the left promoted identity politics for non-Whites and sexual minorities. But these data show that White Americans also became, at least implicitly, more strongly identified as White — a phenomenon that may well have helped Trump and that bodes well for the Alt Right in the long run. And because Trump is seen as racially polarizing because of his statements on immigration, racial identities are not likely to diminish among all groups, including Whites, in the coming years.

Secondly, and far more importantly, specific events and Obama’s reactions to them, beginning with the Trayvon Martin affair in 2012 and continuing throughout his second term are likely to have influenced perceptions of race relations negatively. Particularly important was the rise of Black Lives Matter in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson, a White policeman, in Ferguson, MO in 2013. Despite the facts of the case not supporting the BLM “hands up, don’t shoot” account, Obama and Eric Holder’s Justice Department were seen as squarely on the side of convicting Wilson.

The Baltimore riots in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death in a police van also received huge coverage, and again the facts didn’t fit with the liberal narrative. All of the officers, both Black and White, were acquitted despite a Black judge and Black-dominated power structure in Baltimore, including the mayor and the prosecuting attorney.

For anyone engaged with the media since the Ferguson riots, the entire narrative was about race throughout the entire media spectrum. Conservative media, which had typically focused on the usual conservative talking points about Obama (Obamacare, over-regulation, deficits, etc.), now focused day after day on race and on Obama’s image as far too sympathetic to the rioters. (Obama publicly associated himself with BLM activists by inviting them to the White House several times.) Conservatives generally sided with the police, while being careful to say that there are indeed bad cops and unjustified shootings.

The violence and property destruction prior to any established facts about the cases fed into stereotypes of inner-city Blacks. White America watching the TV coverage once again had its stereotypes of the Black underclass confirmed — irrational, violent, White-hating, police-hating (“Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon”) and prone to criminality. Implicitly at least, there was an uptick in race realism. Hollywood’s continuing attempts to stereotype Blacks as intelligent computer experts with the wisdom of Gandhi suffered a major setback.

The fact is that, after enabling a Black middle class, after all the affirmative action, after electing a Black president and getting a race-obsessed Black attorney general, after the massive, incredibly expensive, futile efforts to improve the academic performance of Black children, after all the billions in welfare programs, after all the programs aimed at lowering Black criminality, there remains a very large Black underclass operating completely outside the institutional structures created by White society. For this group, nothing remains except anger at a system they cannot comprehend and blaming their failures on White racism.

Given the evidence that in fact race relations are now more polarized, it’s reasonable to suppose that images of rioting Blacks made Whites identify more with being White and as having interests that are radically divergent from Black America. It further polarized the racial landscape and may well have had repercussions during the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton generally sided with BLM, meeting with BLM activists and emphasizing “systemic racism” and “implicit bias,” as well as the need for reform of the criminal justice system, while Donald Trump made repeated statements about the need for “law and order.”

The success of BLM in spreading a message that White police officers are wantonly killing Blacks then fed into assassinations of police officers, beginning shortly after Ferguson, with the December 2014 assassination of two police officers in New York. The killings of 5 police officers in Dallas received huge media coverage and, despite condemnations from all quarters, this event likely sharpened the racial battle lines even further. Obama’s response at the memorial service was to state that Black parents were right to fear that “something terrible may happen when their child walks out the door” — not the sort of thing the law enforcement community wanted to hear.

And, quite clearly, the message has gotten through to police officers: Abandon pro-active policing and avoid confrontations likely to lead to a career-ending media uproar. We know this because of the “Ferguson effect” — the dramatic increases in crime by Blacks in 25 of the largest 30 American cities. Here we defer to the indispensable Heather MacDonald (see also here), who projects an 11% rise in murders in 2015. Violent crime had been trending down since the early 1990s, and this continued into the first half of 2014. However, “the post-Ferguson violent-crime spike in the second half of 2014 wiped out that earlier crime success, leaving 2014 a wash. Since then, violent crime has continued rising.”

Baltimore’s per-capita homicide rate, for example, is now the highest in its history, according to the Baltimore Sun: 54 homicides per 100,000 residents, beating its 1993 rate of 48.8 per 100,000 residents. Shootings in Cincinnati, lethal and otherwise, were up 30 percent by mid-September 2015 compared with the same period in 2014. Homicides in St. Louis were up 60 percent by the end of August. In Los Angeles, the police department reports that violent crime has increased 20 percent as of December 5; there are 16 percent more shooting victims in the city, while arrests are down 9.5 percent. Shooting incidents in Chicago are up 17 percent through December 13.

Seen in broad perspective, the presence of a Black president openly sympathetic to BLM, as well as the blanket indictment of all of White society that is so common on the mainstream left, have disinhibited the activists, justified rioting and police assassinations and legitimized a general climate inviting the hatred of Whites. But the most obvious result of all this is an increase in Black-on-Black crime.

And yet, as Heather M notes in a recent article, liberals continue to push the meme that Obama promoted a “post-racial” America.

Tell that valedictory for “post-racial bridge-building” to police officers, who have been living through two years of racialized hatred directed at them in the streets, to the applause of many Democratic politicians. Black Lives Matter rhetoric consists of slogans like: “CPD [Chicago Police Department] KKK, how many children did you kill today?” “Fuck the police,” and “Racist, killer cops.”

Officers have been assassinated by Black Lives Matter-inspired killers who set out to kill whites in general and white police officers in particular. Gun murders of law enforcement officers are up 67 percent this year through November 23, following five ambushes and attacks over the November 18 weekend that left a San Antonio police officer and a U.S. marshal dead. A few days before those weekend shootings, anarchist wannabes in Austin led a counting chant based on the template: “What’s better than X dead cops?  X + 1 Dead Cops.”

Again, it can’t be emphasized enough: “Officers have been assassinated by Black Lives Matter-inspired killers who set out to kill whites in general and white police officers in particular.” Not exactly a harbinger of a post-racial America.

And finally, we should note that in fact Blacks are not more likely to be shot by police when the Black crime rate is factored in. For example, “according to the most recent study by the Dept. of Justice, although blacks were only about 15% of the population in the 75 largest counties in the U.S., they were charged with 62% of all robberies, 57% of murders, and 45% of assaults.” Several academic studies have found either no evidence of racial bias or have shown that Whites are more likely to be shot in similar threat scenarios than Blacks (summarized by Heather MacDonald here).

Growing Black Violence?

Obama recently used the Harvard Law Review to broadcast his claim that “there is no growing crime wave” despite the fact that the FBI’s 2015 crime report revealed a 10.8 percent increase in murders from 2014 to 2015—the largest increase in a single year since 1971.

The left-wing Brennan Center for Justice reported that violent crime surged in 2015 and in 2016: Nationally, the murder rate is projected to increase 31.5 percent from 2014 to 2016 — with half of additional murders attributable to Baltimore, Chicago, and Houston.

Obama’s claim of civic peace is also at odds with the televised evidence dramatic race riots, high-profile cop killings, rapes, murders, illegal alien crimes, and chaos that rippled across the country during the second term of his presidency.

Black militants murdered police in planned attacks, including five officers in a single night in Dallas during a Black Lives Matter demonstration. In 2016, there was a huge increased in the number of police killed on duty, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Fund, which stated: Firearms-related incidents were the number one cause of death in 2016, with 64 officers shot and killed across the country. This represents a significant spike—56 percent—over the 41 officers killed by gunfire in 2015. ( From Breitbart)

Unsurprisingly, the outgoing president’s insistent dismissals have not set voters’ minds at ease. In April 2016, Gallup found public concerns about crime stood at a 15-year high: 53% of respondents, including 68% of nonwhite respondents, said they worried “a great deal” about crime.

While Obama lectured cops about the problem of their racism at a funeral for murdered cops, he has been more reticent to comment on the nation-wide epidemic of Black violent crime. Since the MSM is also reticent on the same subject, we conclude with seven statistics you may not know about this topic that the president and the MSM will not address.

  1. Data shows that 93 percent of black homicide victims are killed by other blacks.
  2. According to Riley, “Blacks commit violent crimes at 7 to 10 times the rate that whites do.”
  3. Black crime is even more prevalent in the country’s largest cities and counties.
  4. There were almost 6,000 blacks killed by other blacks in 2015.
  5. The percentage of blacks arrested for crimes is consistent with police reports.
  6. According to Riley, “Black crime rates were lower in the 1940s and 1950s, when black poverty was higher” and “racial discrimination was rampant and legal.”
  7. According to Heather Mac Donald, “A straight line can be drawn between family breakdown and youth violence.” Black crime rates were lower in the 1940s and 1950s despite greater poverty and racial segregation.

To amplify Heather M’s point, the counter-cultural revolution of the 1960s has proved devastating to Blacks and others in the lower part of the bell curve for IQ, resulting in a huge rise in births out of wedlock, now at 79% among Blacks and exploding rates of low-investment parenting. Yet, because liberals can’t countenance the possibility that there are genetic influences on behavior, their response is to continue to feed the beast — to make public assistance easy and not dependent on either work or responsible parenting. This is a recipe for dysgenics.

This series will conclude with a postscript on the situation in Chicago.

Further reading:

The real Obama legacy part 1-Foreign policy

The real Obama legacy part 2-The economy