In his commencement speech to the graduating class at Howard University last weekend, President Obama excused crime in the African American community as something fostered by an “unfair and unjust” system.
He also said successful people were “just lucky” and hinted they didn’t make their success; “It wasn’t nothin’ you did,” he insisted.
Obama appeared at the historically African American Howard University on May 7 to send the graduates off into the world with some inspiring words. But much of what the president said was less inspirational and more conspiratorial.
The president spent a large portion of the first 15 minutes of his speech properly impressing upon the minority students in attendance that they are living in an era of unprecedented opportunity. But even as he noted how far African Americans have come in America today, he said he would be speaking to the inequities blacks face.
Still, in the first half of his speech Obama did mention how far African Americans have come since he was a child. For instance, Obama praised pop queen Beyoncé and TV showrunner Shonda Rhimes as examples of how far African Americans have progressed since the Civil Rights movement began in the U.S. He also noted that blacks have come a long way in business and the law.
But finally, about twenty minutes into his speech, he did, indeed, get to the usual victim mentality all too often seen on the political scene today.
At one point Obama excused crime as a result of an “unfair and unjust” system and noted that success is all just “luck.”
The president decried the judicial system and insisted blacks are being imprisoned unfairly.
“We can’t just lock up a low-level dealer without asking why this boy, barely out of childhood, felt he had no other options,” Obama said.
He went on to claim crime was a result of the system, not the actions of criminals.
“We have cousins and uncles and brothers and sisters who we remember were just as smart and just as talented as we were, but somehow got ground down by structures that are unfair and unjust,” he said.
That brought the President to his thoughts on success being more a result of luck than hard work.
“And that means we have to not only question the world as it is,” Obama intoned, “and stand up for those African Americans who haven’t been so lucky–because, yes, you’ve worked hard, but you’ve also been lucky.”
As an aside, the President of the United States then told his audience of his “pet peeve.”
“That’s a pet peeve of mine — people who have been successful and don’t realize they’ve been lucky. That God may have blessed them; it wuddn’t nothin’ you did. So don’t have an attitude.”
This line invokes his “you didn’t build that” gaffe from 2012 when Obama insisted that people with a successful business “didn’t build that” on their own and that government was really the catalyst for success.
The President’s commencement message is essentially that if you are black in the U.S. and you are successful, it was just luck and most blacks are held down by an “unfair and unjust” system that won’t allow them to succeed.
Obama also raised eyebrows when he insisted that he never intended to create a “post-racial society” with his presidency.
“My election did not create a post-racial society,” Obama told the graduating class “I don’t know who was propagating that notion. That was not mine.”
It was a speech that talkshow host Rush Limbaugh called “hideous.”
The President’s speech comes on the heels of years of releasing into the public tens of thousands of illegal immigrants who have been apprehended and convicted of committing violent criminal offenses including rape, drug dealing, drunk driving, and even murder.
Further, with his “national reentry” policy, Obama has also worked to soften or eliminate the consequences of committing serious crimes and ensure ex-cons are given the same advantages as lifelong, law-abiding citizens.
Obama’s own efforts are only emboldened by the efforts of the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives in pushing a sentencing reform bill that some senators charge will release violent felons and drug traffickers back into the public.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org