If somebody is going to criticize anything about Obama’s speech, I could see how one might argue it was fluff that tried to assuage both sides without saying much. But personally, as I said at the time, I thought he struck the right tone. And I don’t get the accusation that Obama was engaging in race-baiting.
What Obama was doing was attempting to calm a racially-charged situation, by both stating that there was a fair trial and calling for non-violence, while trying to explain why the episode struck such a raw nerve within the African American community.
For conservatives frustrated when liberals act like race relations are trapped in 1862 or 1962, Obama recognized that things continue to get better. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some relevant historical realities or that African Americans don’t face ongoing struggles.
It isn’t engaging in victimology to appreciate that the African American experience in America is unlike that of any other group. While many Americans can look back at family stories of their ancestors coming over to the country in search of a better life, overcoming adversity, and seeing their families’ fortunes improve through the generations, African Americans were originally brought over here against their will in chains and brutally forced into slavery.