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Aug 5, 2019 19:23

Why won’t Barack Obama say Trump’s name?

Why won’t Barack Obama say Trump’s name?

We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments; leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people. Such language isn’t new – it’s been at the root of most human tragedy throughout history, here in America and around the world. It is at the root of slavery and Jim Crow, the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. It has no place in our politics and our public life. And it’s time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much – clearly and unequivocally.
-Barack Obama, in a statement on the recent mass shootings

It’s deeply odd to me that Obama won’t go all the way and name Trump in this paragraph. 

It’s even more bizarre given the rest of the statement. He has no problem directly identifying two of the other reasons for the increase in mass shootings generally and white nationalist terrorism specifically: America’s broken gun laws and the internet’s ability to spread hate. How clearly he names these two factors make the paragraph above all the more inexplicable to me. 

I mean, like, he’s clearly talking about Trump in that first sentence, right? We all know that. Trump knows that. What exactly is spared by excluding Trump’s name? Beyond that, casting the current problem of white nationalist terrorism in a historical context is a very Obama stylistic flair, yet it also lacks coherency since he doesn’t name one of the primary catalysts of this new scourge: Trump’s rise and the normalization of outwardly racist statements in political discourse. 

I don’t know. I get that Obama is trying to stay above attacking his replacement—this statement follows a long tradition of Obama implicitly criticizing Trump while not naming him directly—but doesn’t this moment demand more than this? How much longer can Obama’s subtweeting stay viable? What will the breaking point be?