President Barack Obama:
As you plan for a visit Dallas, many conservatives will recoil, presuming that you are taking the opportunity for political posturing. In a spirit of restraint and outreach that embraces us following the massacre of our policemen, it seems more constructive to offer a few sincere requests.
I don’t offer them as a conservative or as a white man. I offer them as a local resident sincerely trying to solve all the problems currently on the table, from the war on police to the concerns over racial disparities in law enforcement.
This is an opportunity to deliver what so many of your supporters and even detractors hoped for on the day you were elected: to take us beyond race and beyond red state vs. blue state polarities to offer genuine leadership of a kind that you can uniquely offer as our first president of color.
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Please grant us more of what you shared in Poland as the tragedy unfolded: clear words about what we have witnessed. You called it a “vicious, calculated, despicable attack on law enforcement.” That is exactly what we have endured. We will appreciate a revisiting of that basic truth, undiluted by pet issues like the weapon he used to carry out his murderous revenge.
You praised Police Chief David Brown for his outstanding leadership. Part of that leadership involved the call for a halt to the “divisiveness between our police and our citizens.” Please echo his call for a retreat from the hateful words and actions that are poisoning police-citizen relations.
Our entire nation also recognizes that those relations are damaged any time a police officer oversteps the bounds of duty, especially when the results are deadly. Our community and our nation stand ready to examine the current stories out of Louisiana and Minnesota, to examine facts and evidence to determine whether these are occasions that call for accountability from officers who committed wrongs against the citizens they are sworn to protect.
But when crowds of protesters take to the streets to condemn the police collectively as racists bent on killing our black population, it is incumbent on all civilized people to demand a stop to such hate speech.
You have often guided Americans not to venture one step into your definition of Islamophobia. The police and citizens of North Texas pray that you might offer similar counsel to those who would broadly smear the men and women who wear the uniforms of law enforcement.
You have an opportunity in Dallas to speak of justice when it is denied in unjustified police shootings, while simultaneously calling on Black Lives Matter voices to refrain from maligning the entire police community you say you are here to support. Covering both of those bases will earn appreciation and praise from across the racial and political spectrum.
And one last thing: You are fond of invoking our children and the challenges they face in modern America. Please do not join the chorus suggesting that black parents need to warn their children of marauding hordes of racist police just itching to mistreat them. This, too, is a vicious insult to the police officers who want to believe you have their backs.
No voice could be more valuable than yours, telling parents to steer their children toward behaving respectfully and lawfully, not just toward the police, but toward each other. This is good advice for parents of all races.
It is inherently good for a president to visit a community that has been wounded as we have by such a visitation of evil. There would be great value to your words recognizing it as that, added to sentiments of unwavering support for the grieving Dallas police and DART police families who have lost so much.
Mark Davis is a radio host in North Texas and a columnist for the Dallas Morning News. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.