For the most part, President Obama’s comments on the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin have been met with positive reactions from those who heard him say the tragedy cuts deep, given that “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” The President failed to touch at least one heart, however: Newt Gingrich‘s, who called the comments “appalling” on Sean Hannity‘s radio show because they “suggest” the President is “OK” with the murder of non-black teens.
“What the president said, in a sense, is disgraceful,” Gingrich said on the Hannity Radio show. “It’s not a question of who that young man looked like. Any young American of any ethnic background should be safe, period. We should all be horrified no matter what the ethnic background.
“Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it didn’t look like him. That’s just nonsense dividing this country up. It is a tragedy this young man was shot. It would have been a tragedy if he had been Puerto Rican or Cuban or if he had been white or if he had been Asian American of if he’d been a Native American. At some point, we ought to talk about being Americans. When things go wrong to an American, it is sad for all Americans. Trying to turn it into a racial issue is fundamentally wrong. I really find it appalling.”
First of all, Gingrich is committing the cardinal sin of conflating “ethnic background” for race. There are many ethnic backgrounds that from which black people come from, and the core racial issue at hand here is that Trayvon Martin was black. He could have been from Azerbaijan and, from afar, looked exactly the same. Then there’s the whole Latin American thing– yes, Speaker Gingrich, there are plenty of Puerto Ricans and Cubans that could easily look like the President, so that argument doesn’t really make sense.
Third, saying that a child who looks like they could be one’s son looks as such explicitly a racial comment? Sure, the President undoubtedly meant to invoke the veneer of racial tension that all black parents, especially of sons, must feel when their children are out and about alone, the danger that anyone could feel fear and shoot them. But that doesn’t mean that had Martin been white and President Bush in charge, a similar comment would have not made sense. Moreover, given that both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have lent words of support to Martin’s family this week, is Gingrich willing to condemn their comments, too?
Listen to the audio from the Hannity radio show below:
Have a tip we should know? email@example.com