There are many factors that come into play when dealing with tragedy. It is generally understood that each of us deals with heartbreak differently. However, there are certain etiquettes that are important for us to follow, especially if dealing with the grief is a public affair. To politicize the deaths of anyone only adds to the sorrow that the family and the community is trying to deal with. This is why President Obama’s speech at the funeral of the five slaughtered police officers was disheartening. Instead of a eulogy meant to comfort, Obama offered a stump speech. Obama just cannot help himself, for him everything is about his agenda. The fallen officers, their families, Dallas, and America deserved better.
As a former member of the military and a police officer I can tell with absolute certainty that the memorial of a fallen comrade is about three distinct things: Service, Sacrifice, and Family. Anything that distracts from the promotion of these themes when honoring those that have fallen in the service of others only functions to dishonor the deceased heroes, belittling their lives. It is because of these factors that many who have served their county in the military, and the first responder community, are extremely apprehensive when politicians make an appearance at a gathering intended to honor their fallen brothers and sisters. The military and first responder communities are a close knit clan, protective of their fallen friends, and by extension their families. There is a time and a place to promote a political agenda, and a memorial for five fallen police officers is not one of those places.
During his speech in Dallas, President Obama mentioned himself at least 45 times. Standing before him was an entire community in mourning. Watching on TV was a country and a world waiting for empathy, respect, and honor. Sadly, Obama made the event more about himself, his tired political rhetoric, too often merely spewing epitaphs intended for Twitter than for the families of the fallen officers.
That is not to say some elements of Obama’s speech were not gracious. But the good points of his speech were overshadowed, whether by intent or cluelessness. In a speech that was entirely too long, and wandering, Obama would make the absurd statement that “we flood these communities with so many guns that it’s easier for a teenager to get his hands on a Glock than a computer or a book.”
Not only is that statement blatantly false, but it begs to be asked, ‘why?’ Why was this even part of Obama’s speech? How does this help a community grieving, or provide comfort to the families of the fallen? It doesn’t. It was more about promoting a political themed sermon than offering words of sympathy for the fallen officers and their families.
President Obama did try to comfort the audience by stating that he did not believe that we (as a nation) were as divided as so many might believe we are. Yet, he immediately pivoted to the false belief that black males were, and continue to be, targeted by police because of a national persistence of historic racism. Stating “And so when African Americans from all walks of life, from different communities across the country, voice a growing despair over what they perceive to be unequal treatment [by law enforcement] ….we cannot simply turn away and dismiss those in peaceful protest as troublemakers or paranoid..” Once again, sitting before Obama was a community that had just lost five police officers. Five police officers executed by an individual filled with hate, and in large part driven to this crime because of the false narrative promoted by groups like Black Lives Matter and this president. The “crime” committed by these five police officers? Trying to faithfully serve their community. Their reward? To be assassinated while protecting a protest where their daily sacrifice was being maligned, and then while lying in their coffins, lectured by President Obama.
For 40-minutes President Obama pontificated about the racist ills he believes (falsely) permeate American law enforcement. I would say how sad it was that President Obama missed another opportunity, but he wrote the speech, not speechwriters. Words have consequences, and Obama said what he meant, regardless of the audience and the purpose for the gathering. It is almost like the words he offers as comfort merely serve as a bridge to the condemning statements he so freely utters. I have no doubt that Obama in no way looks at this as a missed opportunity, believing that he offered words of grace, when in fact he offered words of division. President Obama was correct when he stated “I’ve seen how inadequate my own words can be.’ Maybe if his words were more truly connected to solemn state of affairs before him, and not to the causes that drive his political agenda, his words would have meant more. That is what happens when you give a speech, instead of a eulogy.