Commentary & Opinion
12:48 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

Herbert London: President Obama And Trayvon Martin

According to President Obama “Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago.” Initially my reaction to his remark is he is playing to his constituents. After all, why not take advantage of the rabble rousing as he has done before. But my acquiescence quickly turned to anger.

This pot-smoking kid from Hawaii accorded every advantage the American society can confer is saying in effect he faced “racial discrimination.” That this claim could be made with a straight face after he received scholarships at an elite private school in Hawaii, a full scholarship at Occidental and then one at Columbia. Without the slightest demonstration of scholarly achievement, he obtained acceptance to Harvard Law School and yet another scholarship. He was elected to Law Review, but did not publish one article as its editor.

He became U.S. Senator in large part because his Republican rival was caught in a scandal. And without sponsoring one major piece of legislation, he was catapulted into a presidential race. If ever the path to stardom was synchronized with green lights, it is the case of Barack Obama.

Yet he has the audacity to play the race card, even indicating that he used to hear “the locks click on the doors of cars” when he passed. According to Obama young black males are “painted with a broad brush” nearly all of whom have been profiled “himself included.” As he noted, “There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had the chance to get off.”

Let’s get beyond the stereotype to a few facts the president overlooked. The majority of criminal behavior in the United States is found in the African American community despite the fact it is only 13 percent of the population. Black on black murder accounts for 93 percent of the murders in the Afro-American communities. It is 11 times more likely a black person will harm a white person than the reverse. If a woman holds on to a purse in the presence of young black males, there is empirical evidence for doing so. In fact, she would be foolish not to do so. Admittedly there are many innocents caught in the web of racial profiling. Surely the president is referring to those individuals, but safety on our streets is related more to black criminality, than to racial profiling.

The extortion artists of the Al Sharpton variety derive a handsome living from playing the race card and the quilt syndrome among liberals. As Sharpton himself noted his many suits, tuition for his children at private schools, his automobiles are “merely granted as “access.” Most Americans may wonder why similar “access” isn’t granted to them. Without the racial cause, Sharpton would be seen as another hustler eager to make a fast buck from an unwary public. But the shameless advertisement of racial prejudice gives him credibility and celebrity status.

What hasn’t been said, of course, is the extraordinary growth of a black middle class since the 1960’s. What isn’t mentioned by Sharpton or even President Obama is that college graduates who happen to be black earn the same starting salaries as whites. Moreover, among municipal employees, required to take tests for entry, a lower score from blacks is treated as a higher score among whites in order to ensure black representation in the workforce. Supreme Court decisions allow for race as an admissions factor in universities if there is a justifiable reason for “diversity.”

Despite Sharpton’s pointed analysis, the U.S. is not the land of Jim Crow. The Trayvon Martin case tells us very little about racial attitudes as the designation of George Zimmerman as an “Hispanic White” clearly suggests, and the president has invented a past to satisfy the ambitious constituents in his midst and to reinforce rabble rousers eager to use race as a platform for political reform.

Herbert London is President of the London Center for Policy Research,  a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America). You can read all of Herb London’s commentaries at

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