All About the Messenger: Obama's Speech Vs. Bush's
Along with President Barack Obama, former President George W. Bush spoke at the memorial service for slain police officers in Dallas on Tuesday.
Obama's words, whether intentionally provocative or scrupulously fair-minded, invariably end up as vehicles for others' purposes. Partisans hijack them, load them with their own baggage and speed away, often with an acute case of road rage.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, for example, chastised Obama for "raising the specter of slavery and Jim Crow" and fueling the "grievance industry." (It's OK to discuss the fate of unarmed black men being shot by police. But it's unfair to provide historical or social context.)
Few seem to have noticed Bush's remarks. Social media erupted with chuckles at the former president swaying to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" while grasping Michelle Obama's hand. But Bush's speech -- a more concise, equally eloquent version of Obama's -- deserved attention.
Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions.
And this has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose. ...
At our best, we practice empathy, imagining ourselves in the lives and circumstances of others. This is the bridge across our nation’s deepest divisions.
And it is not merely a matter of tolerance, but of learning from the struggles and stories of our fellow citizens and finding our better selves in the process.
At our best, we honor the image of God we see in one another. We recognize that we are brothers and sisters, sharing the same brief moment on Earth and owing each other the loyalty of our shared humanity.
Bush's message of reconciliation and tolerance reinforced Obama's. But it didn't produce the same reactions.
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