Rod St. Aubyn: "A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand"


On June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln made a speech before Republican delegates in Illinois for the selection of the Republican US Senate candidate for Illinois. With the backdrop of proposals to end slavery in the United States, there was constant racial conflict. Partially based on a bible verse, Lincoln stated the following as part of his speech:

“Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed. A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other….”

Racial strife has not been totally abated by past legislation or the Civil War, but in my opinion recent racial tensions have been intensified partially by what President Obama has done and also what he has not done.

After the shooting of Trayvon Martin, President Obama interjected himself into the issue by saying “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” This was before all the facts were discovered. In addition, this should have been handled by the state and not the federal government unless they discovered reasons to intervene based on federal laws. Actions by Reverend Al Sharpton also escalated racial tensions.

Then we had the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by a white police officer. Rather than trying to squelch the illegal rioting, arson, and looting, President Obama decided to send out AG Eric Holder and involve the federal government without trying to hold people accountable for the illegal acts. President Obama also sent the AG and other administration members to the funeral of Michael Brown.

A friend of Michael Brown lied about what had happened, but he has never been held accountable for lying and escalating racial tensions. And once again Al Sharpton made his appearance to elevate the tensions even further. The police officer was vilified even though he was ultimately found to be totally innocent. He recently stated in an interview that he can no longer be hired as a police officer even though he did nothing wrong and evidence showed that Michael Brown was the aggressor. Did the President or the AG ever come to his defense?

We also have the tensions from the death of a black man in Baltimore allegedly by several police officers. The black district attorney escalated the situation charging 6 officers, half of which are also black and basically trying to convict them in public statements well before the evidence is presented. Many legal experts predict that proving the charges will be almost impossible.

If they are exonerated, race riots are sure to be the result partially due to comments made by the prosecutor. What has the President done to alleviate those tensions?

Rather than using his influence to try to urge minorities to let the system work, the President has been virtually silent on that subject. Now we have had the shooting of several police officers and a television reporter and cameraman by black individuals allegedly due to racial reasons. And the Black Lives Matter groups have been disrupting events and shouting hateful speech like that at the Minnesota State Fair by saying this about white police officers, “Pigs in a blanket. Fry them like bacon.”

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Instead of trying to resolve some of the racial tensions, President Obama has been silent.[/mks_pullquote]

If this would have been a conservative white group saying such inflammatory language about some minority, I can almost guarantee that the AG would have launched an investigation and sought hate crime charges against the group. Why the difference? Since that time, a white police officer was assassinated in Texas by a black man who has been described as mentally unstable.

I am sure that neither the AG nor other Administration personnel attended that funeral. Has the AG’s office launched an investigation to see if the hateful rhetoric contributed to this tragic shooting? Of course not. In fact the National Democrat Committee passed a resolution in support of the Black Lives Matter organization.

We can’t ignore that there have been improper actions by some policemen against minorities. But there are processes to deal with those injustices. The President should be making public statements disavowing what these hateful groups have been saying and encouraging those who have been wronged to use the established systems to resolve the issues. Instead of trying to resolve some of the racial tensions, President Obama has been silent. It was only after media pressure did the Attorney General make a recent public statement about the increase in shooting of policemen.

I can recall vividly during George W Bush’s first campaign that he commented that he was a “uniter, not a divider.” I will leave it up to the readers to determine if that was true in your own opinion. However there is no doubt in my mind that President Obama has definitely been a “divider and not a uniter.”

With a movement in Texas trying to vote on secession from the United States, it is obvious that we have serious problems in our country. Whoever is elected president in 2016 will have their hands full trying to deal with the racial tensions that exist in our country. President Lincoln’s words are just as important now as they were then – A house (country) divided against itself cannot stand.