Yesterday, President Obama spoke to law enforcement officials at the White House forum on criminal justice, and took some time to address and defend the Black Lives Matter movement. The phrase has become a rallying cry among activists calling for reforms in law enforcement and the criminal justice system after the several high-profile cases of unarmed black men and women being killed by police or while in police custody. President Obama directly addressed critics who have countered by insisting that “all lives matter." The president explained:
Black Lives Matter is a social media movement that tried to gel around Ferguson, the Eric Garner case and some other cases that came up. And very rapidly, it was posited as being in opposition to the police. And sometimes, like any of these loose organizations, some people pop-off and say dumb things. On the other hand though, it started being lifted as “These folks are opposed to police. They’re opposed to cops, and ‘All Lives Matter.’” So the notion was, somehow saying “Black Lives Matter” was reverse racism or suggesting that other people’s lives didn’t matter, or police officers’ lives didn’t matter. And whenever we get bogged down in that type of discussion, we know where that goes … I think everybody understands all lives matter.
I think the reason that the organizers used the phrase 'Black Lives Matter' was not because they were suggesting nobody else's lives matter. Rather, what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that's happening in the African-American community that's not happening in other communities. And that is a legitimate issue that we've got to address.
As you may have heard, President Obama is currently in Alaska, and along with visiting some local villages and speaking about climate change, he’s taping an episode of the outdoor reality show Running Wild with Bear Grylls. In addition to being a British military veteran, survival expert and adventurer, Grylls is also a devout Christian. Grylls posted this image to Twitter, showing him praying over President Obama on their expedition. He accompanied it with the caption “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” The episode airs later this fall. Discuss
President Obama has backed a WhiteHouse.gov petition, named after Leelah Alcorn, to ban conversion therapy for LGBT youth. The petition, named after the 17-year-old transgender teen who committed suicide after visiting Christian conversion therapists at the request of her parents, has gained more than 120,000 signatures. Obama Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett wrote, “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.” The White House has said that it does not plan on seeking a federal ban on conversion or “reparative” therapy, but, according to The New York Times, the President will “throw his support behind the efforts to ban the practice at the state level” ... Discuss
This weekend, President Obama released a special video message for Passover and Easter. Along with discussing a Passover Seder he and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted at the White House on Friday night, the president said,
Sunday is Easter: The day of prayer and salvation; of renewal and ultimate redemption. Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I will spend the day reflecting on the sacrifice of God's only son, who endured agony on the cross so that we could live together with him. And along with our fellow churchgoers and Christians, inspired by the miracle of His resurrection, we will challenge ourselves to be better. To love more deeply, and to serve the least of these as an expression of Christ’s love here on earth.
The president also emphasized the importance of people of all beliefs and worldviews to working together to create a “brighter future" ... Discuss
No matter what you think about the politics of a sitting president, he still holds an office that should probably warrant some respect. Especially when he’s delivering the State of the Union Address. After all, there are some long-standing etiquette traditions to these things. For example, if you’re in attendance, and don’t like a statement made by the Commander and Chief, you have the option to sit quietly while everyone else stands to applaud. It’s a subtle, dignified way to get your point across—something exercised in reportedly unusually high numbers on Tuesday. What you don’t do is attempt an inappropriate outburst, or you just might be on the receiving end of a sick burn from POTUS himself.
That’s exactly what happened last night. After President Obama delivered the line, “That’s how we move this country forward. That’s what the American people want. That’s what they deserve. I have no more campaigns to run,” a group in the audience sarcastically started cheering. The President smirked and replied “I know because I won both of them.” We should all be able to put our politics aside long enough to acknowledge a world class zinger when we hear one ... Discuss
Last night, President Obama appeared on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report, not only sitting down for an interview with the satirical conservative persona, but also taking over hosting duties for Colbert’s “The Word” commentary segment. Though his “Word” sound-off was primarily focused on his health care reform legislation, during their frequently fascinating Q&A, Colbert took the president to task on a variety of issues—of course, with his signature tongue-in-cheek faux outrage.
He asked zingers, for example: referencing Obama's controversial executive action on immigration reform, “Why did you burn the Constitution and become an emperor?" Discussing the President’s hesitancy to support the Keystone XL pipeline—a move the audience made their views quite clear about—Colbert said “The American people want it. It's going to create jobs. The State Department says it's not going to raise the pollution in the atmosphere. You're going to sign that, right?" Colbert even referred to the President as “Barackus Maximus” at one point. No matter what you think about his politics, it’s hard to deny that President Obama’s sense of humor—and his ability to be a good sport in the face of some criticism—made for some pretty entertaining television ... Discuss