Following President Obama’s comments on the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, some African-American activists say the media-dominating story is distracting attention from much greater threats to African-Americans.
“Without a doubt,” Obama’s decision to highlight the February inter-racial shooting is a distraction that will likely will spur turnout for the 2012 election, T. Willard Fair, president of the Urban League of Greater Miami Inc, told The Daily Caller on Mar. 23.
But “the outrage should be about us killing each other, about black-on-black crime,” especially in Chicago, rather than a single wrongful killing in Florida, he said.
“Would you think to have 41 people shot [in Chicago] between Friday morning and Monday morning would be much more newsworthy and deserve much more outrage?” he asked.
From Mar. 16 to Mar. 19, 41 people, mostly African-American, were shot in Chicago, Obama’s adopted hometown. Ten were killed, but there was little reaction outside Chicago, say several African-American leaders and commentators.
One of the victims was only 6 years old. She was killed in a drive-by shooting conducted by two members of the “Latin Kings” gang.
On Friday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich castigated Obama’s emphasis on Martin’s race in his March 23 comments at the White House. Obama’s comments were “disgraceful. … Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be okay because it didn’t look like him?” Gingrich said.
“Speaker Gingrich is clearly in the last throes of his political career … [and is saying] irresponsible, reckless things,” Plouffe responded.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum also criticized Obama for highlighting the racial aspect of the shooting.
“What the president of the United States should do is try to bring people together, not use these types of horrible and tragic individual cases to try to drive a wedge in America,” Santorum said Friday.
Plouffe dismissed the GOP leaders’ call for a color-blind response, saying on CNN that “those comments were really hard to stomach, really, and I guess trying to appeal to people’s worst instincts. … I don’t think there’s very many people in America that would share that reaction.”