Why We Should Care More Than Obama

In his reaction to the Grand Jury decision not to put Darren Wilson on trial, Barack Obama again showed pretty well why politics won't help us change anything unless they are forced to. Politicians don't care, that's not their job, and Obama is no different in that than anyone before and probably after him.

First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law. And so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make. There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry. It’s an understandable reaction. But I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully. [...]

Understand, our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day. They’ve got a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law. As they do their jobs in the coming days, they need to work with the community, not against the community, to distinguish the handful of people who may use the grand jury’s decision as an excuse for violence — distinguish them from the vast majority who just want their voices heard around legitimate issues in terms of how communities and law enforcement interact.

Finally, we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation. The fact is, in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color. Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country. And this is tragic, because nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with higher crime rates. The good news is we know there are things we can do to help. And I’ve instructed Attorney General Holder to work with cities across the country to help build better relations between communities and law enforcement.

[...] It means enlisting the community actively on what should be everybody’s goal, and that is to prevent crime.
— Barack Obama, Nov. 24

He doesn't say one word about the underlying problem. He doesn't care about that. He cares about peace, about people keeping silent, about not asking questions and not giving answers. Politicians don't want to solve problems, they don't want to change society. They only care about the status quo and in this they are the true representatives of our culture. He never talks specifics and this is what frustrates so many. Without specifics he can say whatever he wants without ever changing something. Look at the first sentence of the quote and the emphasis: "First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law." But these laws don't work precisely because of what he is saying in the end. They try to prevent crime but we need to realize that this will never work. A law can't prevent crime and recruiting people to guard those laws and trying to prevent it also doesn't work and only leads to a misguided feeling of power that kills anyone that looks suspicious or threatening. We are not preventing crime. As long as we don't accept that crime will happen and how we can deal with that fact, how we can focus on the victims, people will continue to feel "disappointed, even angry." How can the laws be more important than what people actually do?

Because the people on the streets of Ferguson realize again that this culture is not working for us. It makes no sense to them. Killing someone for no reason other than fear and no consequences for that action seems wrong. And why would you care about laws about destruction and violent protest, if the law doesn't care about you? I don't think violence will solve anything, but at least it makes people get heard and seen. As I said before, Michael Brown's death is symptomatic and systematic. So is the Grand Jury decision and Obama's reaction. That's how our culture works. The protests are not systematic. They say "We need to find another way of doing things." Laws tell us that there is one right way for people to act and then expect us to accept that these laws don't always make sense. But we don't have to accept anything we don't want. We can change something. This'd be a good start for new directions. If we want a new direction.