Following a weekend terrorized by two separate mass shootings, Americans turned to their leaders for help. Instead, they got Donald J. Trump, giving a robotic, low-energy, noticeably scripted speech in which he got one of the cities wrong. So it was with great relief that, Monday afternoon, another American president released a statement that was heartfelt, stirring, reassuring, inspiring — all qualities one expects from the most powerful person on the planet in times of struggle.
“Michelle and I grieve with all the families in El Paso and Daytona who endured these latest mass shootings,” the 44th president of the United States wrote, getting the cities right. He then diagnosed the problem, not blaming video games or the mentally ill, as his successor did in his own statement.
“[N]o other nation on Earth comes close to experiencing the frequency of mass shootings that we see in the United States,” Obama wrote. “Every time this happens, we’re told that tougher gun laws won’t stop all murders; they won’t stop every deranged individual from getting a weapon and shooting innocent people in public places. But the evidence shows that they can stop some killings. They can save some families from heartbreak.
“We are not helpless here,” he added. “And until all of us stand up and insist on holding public officials accountable for changing our gun laws, these tragedies will keep happening.”
Obama wrote of how many of the mass shootings over the last few years follow the same, disturbing trend: “troubled individuals who embrace racist ideologies and see themselves obligated to act violently to preserve white supremacy,” as he put it. He called on law enforcement agencies and internet platforms to “come up with better strategies to reduce the influence of these hate groups.”
He ended by asking to uphold “tolerance and diversity,” especially when it comes to You Know Who. “We should roundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments,” he wrote. He asked us to reject “leaders 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.”
The sudden appearance of a statement from Obama addressing a national emergency was, to put it lightly — and at least one half of social media — well-received.
You can read Obama’s full statement above. Many agreed with Mark Hamill’s assessment.
— Forest Linden. (@forestlinden) August 5, 2019
— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) August 5, 2019
This is a call to action:
For meaningful gun reform.
For an end to white extremism.
For an end to hate speech.
For what the country needs.
For what the people demand.
Thanks, Obama. https://t.co/ZlSYXIkfxG
— Adam Schiff (@AdamSchiff) August 5, 2019
The statement caused the hashtag #MyPresident to trend, although surely few thought it referred to the current POTUS.
If you're wondering why #MyPresident is trending, it's because of Barack Obama, not Trump.
— Alex Cole (@acnewsitics) August 5, 2019
— Ericka Keyton (@Class_eAndSweet) August 5, 2019
— Lynn1013 (@meccaimani) August 5, 2019
.#MyPresident is a man of character.
A man of compassion
— leeleeb50VoteBlueNoMatterWho🌊🌊🌊 (@leeleeb50) August 6, 2019
— SCLASS (@SClass68) August 5, 2019
— SamZee (@SamZComedy) August 5, 2019
— Chancellor Jackson (@dudeitschance) August 5, 2019