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President Obama, stand up and appeal for racial unity. Please.

A Rare Editorial |

It’s time to be a leader, Mr. President. The trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting of Trayvon Martin have put parts of the United States at odds with one another. Certain neighborhoods and communities in this great land are a tinderbox waiting to be ignited. In every direction are unscrupulous villains scrambling with matches to light the fire of racial animosity.

Added to the chorus of usual suspects like race baiters Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are journalists and celebrities exercising poor judgment. For example, New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz fumed over the verdict on Twitter, “Thoroughly confused. Zimmerman doesn’t last a year before the ‘hood catches up with him.” According to Breitbart.com, sometime-Associated Press reporter Cristina Silva tweeted out, “So we can all kill teenagers now? Just checking.” Such hysterical fanning of racial flames is a dangerous business that can get people killed. We’ve seen this before, with professional rabble rousers and amateur vigilantes stirring trouble at every opportunity there is for race-based violence, from the Rodney King beating to the OJ Simpson trial.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Someone needs to rise above the fray and say enough is enough, and only one position carries the power of the bully pulpit to deliver the message effectively to all. America is waiting for the president to separate himself from the division and pull a bickering people together before riots blow us all apart. Abraham Lincoln, that giant of history who did more than any other man to try to heal age-old racial sins, warned, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” It is time for Barack Obama to rise above partisanship – and even his own activist past – to steer us out of this destructive trajectory with a positive message.

Tragically, nothing in President Obama’s background or personality provides hope that he will meet this challenge with wisdom and class. He initially contributed to turning a local law-enforcement issue into a heated national controversy about race by emotionally lamenting that, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” The president’s brief statement Sunday made a not-so-veiled political appeal for gun control but eschewed soaring or convincing rhetoric about being one nation other than minimal boilerplate. Meanwhile, his Attorney General Eric Holder, who has admitted repeatedly that he views the law through the prism of race, announced that he is unleashing the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the full force of the Justice Department on Mr. Zimmerman for purported civil-rights offenses. This persecution of a man found innocent by a jury will only succeed at keeping the race-based tension of this saga raw indefinitely.

More than 314 million Americans are waiting for, and the rest of the world is watching to see, the leader of the free world step up to unify a troubled public. Great presidents from Washington to Reagan were unfailingly optimistic and appealed to the better nature inside of us all. Today, we are begging this president to act presidential, instead of behaving like a leftist community organizer furthering a political agenda. We are hoping he ignores the advice of his former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

President Reagan liked to quote wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who stated, “It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.” What’s required now is for President Obama to do what’s right for the entire nation, not just look out for his narrow constituencies. What’s needed today is for the president to instruct the attorney general to drop the Zimmerman witch hunt so America can put this divisive episode to rest.

Written by Editor-in-Chief Brett M. Decker on behalf of the Rare Editorial Board. Follow him on Twitter @BrettMDecker

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