It seems like a bit of an overreach to opine about the state of the world, but that is what newspaper columnists get paid for. Roger Cohen did a creditable job of it the other day.
I agree with much of what Cohen writes here—not on certain other topics-- though if I had been his editor I would have pointed out that he was describing the world that Barack Obama hath wrought.
Cohen glosses over the president’s role in most of what makes him uneasy. He only holds the president responsible for his non-handling of the crisis in Syria.
It is impossible to talk about America today without recognizing the influence of Barack Obama. We do not like to think it, but the president's character exerts an outsized influence on the nation’s cultural ambiance.
Cohen does not live in America, so he sees the nation as a visitor. Yet, his sense of New York City rings true, especially in the wake of the grand jury decisions in the cases involving Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
In his words:
New York has always been a pretty good barometer of the state of the world. Its fortunes rise and fall. It will never be as manicured like Paris, or as comfortable as London, or as beautiful as Rome, or as moneyed as Singapore. In good times it hums, in bad it’s a jangling mess of police sirens. Over the past 40 years, I’ve known the city’s moods: dangerous and secure, anxious and confident, subdued and ebullient.
These days, the mercury seems to be dipping. The streets are edgier, more aggressive. I recently saw a slim, well-dressed man take a covert look around before stooping to pick a cigarette butt off the sidewalk. There’s a lot of scavenging in garbage. Desperation may be quiet, or just crazed. The other morning, for no apparent reason, somebody pushed a man off a subway platform to his death under a D train. That sort of thing makes New Yorkers eye each other in a different way. Fear has crept back.
Clearly, there is much to be thankful for. The stock market is soaring. Nothing seems to be able to dampen its animal spirits. Yet, the economic recovery has left the middle class and the lower classes in the lurch. When leading Democratic senators, like Schumer and Harkin are stepping forth—correctly, I believe—to say that the Obama administration and the Democratic Party blew it, we know that the American electorate is uneasy
Cohen continues his reflection:
By historical standards, this is still an era of exceptional peace, as the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I has reminded us. Medical breakthroughs are extending life; dying has become arduous. The empowering possibilities of technology link individuals in new ways. For many young people the squabbling of states and the posturing of politicians is little more than a sideshow to the borderless networks that count.
Still, I trust my dipping New York barometer. People are angry and worried, with cause. Their pressured lives are not getting better. Fundamental injustices grow more acute. This clouds judgment because global affairs look like a scam put in place by the privileged. I have never felt more uneasy about the state of the world. The rule book has been torn up.
We can easily take Cohen’s vision and apply it easily to the current state of race relations in America.
After all, many Americans were duped (twice) into voting for Barack Obama because they believed that his election would be a boon to African-American self-esteem. Putting a black man in the White House would tell black Americans that they were full-fledged citizens.
It was a noble idea, but one that did not withstand serious reflection. Jeremiah Wright’s protégé has never been a conciliator. He comes to us from the world of race hustlers and wanna-be revolutionaries. Having helped gin up the crises in Ferguson and New York he seems to be taking advice from the nation’s leading race hustler, Rev. Al Sharpton.
The Obama administration has sown racial division. It used the Michael Brown and Eric Garner deaths to propagate a narrative about a dialectical conflict between the white police force and the black underclass.
When Charles Barkley consistently makes more sense than the president of the United States you know that something is very, very wrong.
Leftists love calling for national conversations. I doubt that many people know what that means, but it seems to be telling white people to get in touch with their guilt. It suggests that when something goes wrong in African-American communities it’s their fault.
Even with a black president and a black attorney general, the white police force is to blame for the high rate of black crime, especially black-on-black crime.
When the crime rate in black communities is considered to be the fault of white police officers, when rioting blacks are excused because they are expressing their pent-up outrage, the national conversation is depriving blacks of moral agency and moral responsibility.
Next to nothing has been accomplished by rioting. Doesn’t everyone know that burning down your neighborhood is the definition of impotent rage?
People who are absolved of moral responsibility will naturally conclude that bad behavior is a good thing… at least, for them. People who cannot take responsibility will be more inclined to break the law.
There are two reasons that people obey the law. One, their good character demands that they behave well toward others. If that does not work, they will behave because they are afraid of being caught by the police.
If you erase the first, the only deterrent left is the second. If they no longer fear the police… things can get very bad indeed.
Now, if our dear president wanted to change the situation he would begin by taking responsibility for the failures of his administration. His programs have increased black dependency, on food stamps and on Medicaid, while at the same time depriving his most loyal voters of the chance for good jobs.
Obama has made blacks more dependent on government. At the same time he has joined the race hustlers in implying that blacks cannot control their emotions and cannot take responsibility for their actions.
So, Obama should say what Schumer said… that he misused the mandate that the American people gave him. Schumer showed some political courage… it always takes courage to take responsibility for defeat. Obama has shown none.
One need not embrace everything that Schumer said in order to appreciate a politician who has the honesty to look defeat in the eye and take some responsibility for it. Being a major proponent of Obamacare, Schumer was well placed to say that it was, at the least, a political debacle.
Not so Obama. He cannot admit to his own failures so he is embracing Al Sharpton and scapegoating white police officers.
That’s why the nation is dividing on racial lines.