Two Thumbs on the Scale

In a brief press conference at the White House on Monday, August 18, Barack Obama was asked about the ongoing civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri… a response by the black community to the shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old, 6 ft. 4 in. black man, described in various media reports as a “gentle giant.”  Eyewitness reports indicate that Brown, who just ten minutes earlier had committed a strong-arm robbery of a convenience store, was in the process of attacking a uniformed Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, when he was shot to death.

In response, Obama said, “I have to be very careful about not pre-judging.”  But then, in the next breath, he proceeded to pre-judge, as he has so many times before.  Attempting to give the impression of racial neutrality in his administration, he concluded by saying, “We have to be careful not to put a thumb on the scale.”

He apparently has a very short memory.  On July 16, 2009, Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., was arrested at his Cambridge, Massachusetts home by a local police officer, Sgt. James Crowley, who was responding to a neighbor’s 911 call telling police that unidentified men were breaking into the house next door… a house that turned out to be Gates’s residence.

The incident occurred as Gates returned home from a trip to China, only to find his front door jammed.  With the help of his driver he attempted to force it open.  A neighbor, attempting to be a “good Samaritan,” telephoned police.  When Sgt. Crowley arrived on the scene he went to the front door and asked Gates to step outside.  He explained to Gates that he was investigating the report of a break-in, to which Gates responded, “Why, because I’m a black man in America?”

Finally, after grudgingly providing the officer with a photo ID, Gates became verbally abusive.  After two warnings from Sgt. Crowley that he was becoming disorderly… warnings that went unheeded… Gates was placed under arrest, taken to the Cambridge police station in handcuffs, photographed, fingerprinted, and charged with disorderly conduct.

During a July 22 White House press conference, columnist Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, posed a question to Obama.  She said, “Recently, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested at his home in Cambridge.  What does that incident say to you?  And what does it say about race relations in America?”

Obama replied, “Now, I’ve… I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that.  But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.  And number three, what I think we know, separate and apart from this incident, is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.”

On the night of February 26, 2012, neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman was driving through his neighborhood in the Twin Lakes housing complex in Sanford, Florida… a neighborhood that had recently experienced a number of burglaries and forced entries.  Seeing an unfamiliar figure, dressed in a “hoodie,” walking through the neighborhood, he telephoned local police.  The police dispatcher advised Zimmerman to remain in his vehicle and not to follow the unknown person.

However, when the dispatcher asked Zimmerman for his exact location, so that police could find him when they arrived, he left his vehicle to find a street name and house number.  As he did so, he was approached out of the darkness by 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, of Miami Gardens, Florida, who had been lying in wait.  Martin asked Zimmerman if he had a “problem,” to which Zimmerman replied that he did not.

If, at that point, Martin had turned and proceeded on to his destination, that would’ve been the end of the matter and it’s likely he would still be alive today… but he didn’t.  Instead, he said to Zimmerman, “Well, you’ve got one now.”

Martin then proceeded to strike Zimmerman with his fist, knocking him to the ground.  Martin then sat astride Zimmerman, beating his head against a concrete sidewalk and threatening to kill him.  Zimmerman, fearing that he would be seriously injured, if not killed, drew a handgun from his belt and shot Martin to death.  The shooting of a young black man, by a man perceived as white, became headline news across the country, sparking a national debate centered on race.

Zimmerman was taken into custody, treated for head injuries, questioned, and released.   The chief of police explained that Zimmerman was released because there was no evidence to refute his claim of having acted in self-defense, and that, under the state’s “Stand Your Ground” statute, Zimmerman had a right to use lethal force to defend himself.  Police had no grounds on which to arrest and charge him.

Then, on Friday, March 23, 2012, while responding to reporters’ questions in the White House Rose Garden, Obama said, “I can only imagine what (Martin’s) parents are going through.  And when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids, and I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together, federal, state and local, to figure out how this tragedy happened.”  He concluded by surmising, “You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

Unable to pass up another opportunity to foment racial animosity, Obama dispatched his attorney general, Eric Holder, to Florida to “stir the pot” a bit.  According to reports, Holder used a “community relations” unit of the Department of Justice to “stage-manage” protests and to help arrange a meeting between local officials and the local chapter of the NAACP.

Days later, under pressure from local black leaders, Zimmerman was placed under arrest and indicted by State’s Attorney Angela Corey, charged with second degree murder… a crime for which a jury later found him not guilty.

Now, in August 2014, Obama once again finds it necessary to interfere in what is clearly a local law enforcement matter.  In addition to dispatching Eric Holder to Ferguson, Missouri, Obama has assembled a team of 40 FBI agents to participate in the investigation of events surrounding the death of Michael Brown… 40 FBI agents who could be put to far better use looking into the criminal activities of former Internal Revenue Service official, Lois Lerner, or one of the other Obama administration scandals.  Their assignment in Ferguson is to determine whether or not Brown’s civil right were violated while he was in the process of being shot to death.

Taking a page out of the Mark Furman chapter of the O.J. Simpson trial, the agents are said to be knocking on doors, interviewing everyone they can find who ever knew Officer Wilson, in order to dig up information that may point to past racist thoughts or actions on his part.

From what we are told, Officer Wilson has an exemplary six-year record as a police officer.  So what will 40 FBI agents uncover in a week or two of beating the bushes for racially-charged dirt?  Will they learn that Officer Wilson didn’t think it was nice of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis to strike his wife, knocking her unconscious?  Or will one of the diligent FBI sleuths uncover the fact that Officer Wilson once traded a black car for a white one?

Democratic partisans are clamoring for Obama to travel to Missouri to talk some sense into members of his base who are rioting in the streets, but there are two reasons why he won’t do that.  First, he knows that if he were to walk the streets of Ferguson he would stand no better chance of coming back alive than if he were to walk the mean streets of South Chicago, his home turf.  And finally, since he doesn’t go anywhere without an entourage of hundreds, the optics of his traveling party outnumbering the protestors would not make good video footage for the evening news.

Instead, he has sent his top political operative, Attorney General Eric Holder, to Missouri.  But sending Holder, the most corrupt attorney general in history, to put down violence in the black community is like sending Bonnie and Clyde to interrupt a bank robbery in progress.   

What Obama’s recent pronouncements tell us is that he has become as adept at parsing his words as the old master, Bill (That all depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is) Clinton.  Obama doesn’t want to put “a” thumb on the scales of justice.  Instead, since the victim in the Ferguson shooting is a young black man, he wants to put both thumbs on the scales.  Obama’s record of the past five and one-half years tells us that he is always willing to tip the scales of justice when a black victim is involved and when his doing so can profit him politically.

It is probably safe to assume that the family of Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi, rotting away in a Mexican prison because he took a wrong turn and unintentionally drove into Mexico with several firearms in the trunk of his car, would appreciate it if Obama would put at least one thumb on the scales of justice in Mexico.

But then, Sergeant Tahmooressi is a white guy, isn’t he?

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