Obama’s Careful Urban League Speech

The president kept his message all-inclusive at the civil rights group's annual convention.

Saul Loeb/AFP
Saul Loeb/AFP

Obama also deftly merged the Urban League’s mission of equal opportunity into values of the middle class, where prosperity should be broad-based. But in speaking about the tragedies brought on by the senseless deaths from gun violence Obama really integrated his message.

“Violence plagues the biggest cities but it also plagues the smallest town,” he said. “It claims the lives of Americans of different ages and different races, and it’s tied together by the fact that these young people had dreams and had futures that were cut tragically short.”

The president spoke of praying for the victims of the massacre in Aurora, Colo.: “We also pray for those who succumb to less publicized acts of violence that plague our communities in so many cities across the country every day. We can’t forget about that.”

Obama’s sleight of hand was not just a black-and-white narrative. He delicately drilled deeper into the gun-violence plague without once mentioning gun control. “I also believe, like other Americans, that AK-47s belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities,” he said.

Then he went on to say he was going to talk to members of the House and Senate to seek “a consensus around violence reduction.”

That was another hidden message. I read it as this: “We all know all this gun violence is insane, but I can’t afford to rile up the gun nuts right now. I’ve got an election to win.”

Cyber columnist Monroe Anderson is a veteran Chicago journalist who has written signed op-ed-page columns for both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times and executive-produced and hosted his own local CBS TV show. He was also the editor of Savoy Magazine. Follow him on Twitter.