President Obama’s Trayvon Martin comments have sparked controversy on the right, with one conservative pundit branding him the “Race-Baiter in Chief.”
In a surprise press briefing Friday, President Obama addressed the controversial acquittal of George Zimmerman last weekend. He said:
“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that – that doesn’t go away.”
But it was Obama’s “Trayvon Martin could have been me” comment that right-wing media figures latched onto.
Fox News anchor Greg Jarrett wondered if President Obama’s comment amounted to “stoking racial tension.” Later, he asked, “Doesn’t the president now run the risk that he is going to provoke even more demonstrations, and let’s hope not, but potential violence?”
Conservative Fox News pundit Sean Hannity also addressed the comments on his radio show Friday afternoon, dryly noting that President Obama compared himself to Trayvon Martin because “he smoked pot, and he did a little blow.”
Todd Starnes was the most critical of President Obama, labeling him “unpresidential” and opining that he is “trying to tear the country apart” on Twitter.
Race-Baiter in Chief
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) July 19, 2013
In response to right-wing criticism, Alexandra Le Tellier wrote an op-ed for the L.A. Times in which she cited another op-ed written by The Atlantic‘s Ta-Neshi Coates in March (you can find that here).
“Some accuse Obama of race-baiting and stoking racial tensions. But that’s not fair, and it’s not what he did. What the president did was make himself relatable, and then he used his position of power to suggest a path forward for a ‘more perfect union,’ ” Le Tellier wrote.
“The people who object to Obama saying that we need to ‘bolster and reinforce our African American boys’ are just in the way.”
What do you think of President Obama’s Trayvon Martin comments today? Are they divisive and race-baiting, or could they be a foundation on which to unify?