In an appearance on the Spanish language station Univision’s “Al Punto” Sunday show, President Obama, with the help of host Enrique Acevedo, appealed to Latino voters by tying the Trayvon Martin case to the “anti-immigrant” sentiment Obama said Hispanics have recently faced.
In his final question to Obama, Acevedo asked, “Finally, Mr. President, why is it that half a century after the civil rights movement and after the American people elected their first African-American president do I have to stand today here in front of you and ask you about racial tensions in the U.S.? And of course, I’m referring to the Trayvon Martin case.”
It is worth noting that Acevedo--on a Spanish language network--made no mention of the fact that Zimmerman identified himself as a “Hispanic,” which would pierce the meme and narrative Acevedo wanted Obama to advance, which Obama obligingly did.
Obama could have noted that Zimmerman was as Hispanic as he is Black and could have said that since the facts of what happened on the night Martin died are still unknown, Americans shouldn't hastily use the Trayon Martin tragedy as a symbol of “racial tensions in the U.S.,” as Acevedo suggested.
Of course, Obama did not respond this way, for politicizing the Martin tragedy works to his political advantage and drives home the misconceived notion that America is a nation of systemic inequalities that needs to be fundamentally transformed.
Here is how Obama responded.
“Well, I think we all understand that issues of race are deeply embedded in the history of this country,” Obama said. “Sometimes that history has been tragic, slavery, Jim Crow, but also more recent examples of anti-immigrant sentiment, and you know, I think what I always tell people is that...my election alone is not going to completely transform attitudes because this has to do with hearts and not just minds. It has to do with attitudes, not just laws.”
Obama then noted that “things have changed profoundly” since he was born, but with “each successive generation there are going to be misunderstandings; there are going to be tensions; there’s going to be tragedy sometimes, and what’s important for us to do is to look at it honestly, look at it squarely, but then move forward.”
Unfortunately, Obama has not taken his own advice in discussing the Martin tragedy.
In politicizing Martin’s death yet again, Obama and his friends in the mainstream media are not looking at the case “honestly” and “squarely.” Instead, Obama and the mainstream media are the ones who are refusing to move forward when an incident they so desperately wanted to use a symbol of all of the injustices they see in America turns out not to be so.