During an interview airing Monday evening on the Black Entertainment Television cable channel, president Barack Obama attempted to contradict remarks on race relations made by radio icon Rush Limbaugh during a rare appearance on Fox News Sunday, which is hosted by Chris Wallace.
“There’s no acknowledgement of any of the progress,” the conservative host said while discussing the results in America following grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y., in which police officers were not indicted following the deaths of two African-American men.
In a clip of the interview released on Sunday afternoon, Obama referred to conflict over race relations by stating:
We're going to have more conversations like this over the coming months. This isn’t going to be solved overnight. This is something that is deeply rooted in our society, it's deeply rooted in our history.
During an attempt to contradict Limbaugh's comments on progress, Obama asserted that “two things are going to allow us to solve” the racial tension across the country.
“Number one is the understanding that we have made progress, and so, it's important to recognize, as painful as these instruments are, we can't equate what's happening now to what was happening 50 years ago,” the Democratic occupant of the White House noted.
“If you talk to your parents, your grandparents, uncles, they’ll tell you that things are better,” he continued. “Not good in some cases, but better. And the reason it’s important to understand progress has been made is that it then gives us hope we can make even more progress.”
The president then identified the second thing to help solve the problem “is we have to be persistent because typically, progress is in steps, it's in increments.”
He concluded: “You know, when you're dealing with something as deeply rooted as racism or bias in any society, you've got to have vigilance, but you have to recognize that it's going to take some time, and you just have to be steady so that you don't give up when we don't get all the way there.”
According to an article by Dylan Stableford on the Yahoo website, “Obama's comments come as protests continue around the country in the wake of last week's decision by a New York grand jury not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July death of Eric Garner.”
As NewsBusters previously reported, Limbaugh described the “hands up, don’t shoot” protests in the wake of the Ferguson decision as something “the media is describing” but “did not happen.”
“And that's tearing this country apart,” the conservative icon continued before noting that liberals are "people to whom the truth is relative.”
Wallace also asked Limbaugh about the protests across the country and whether “those demonstrators have a legitimate beef with police and prosecutors.”
The weekday radio host replied that “there is a grievance politics in this country that's tearing the country apart, Chris. I think what happened in the grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., and what happened here in Staten Island does not warrant this because the grand jury rendered a correct verdict in Ferguson.”
Limbaugh also harshly condemned the people who think race relations are no better in America than they were 200 years ago:
I don't think that things are rosy and perfect in America, but to say that they're no better, as [William de Blasio] the mayor of New York said, that's absurd.
We've made all kinds of efforts to improve race relations in this country. The 1964 Civil Rights Act, affirmative Action, we have bent over backwards. Is it all perfect? No, it's not, but there's no acknowledgment of any of the progress.
Meanwhile, an NBC News/Marist poll released on Sunday shows there is still a racial divide when it comes to confidence in police.
According to the survey, which was conducted on December 4 and 5, 47 percent of Americans say that law enforcement applies different standards to blacks and whites, while 44 percent disagree. However, 82 percent of African-Americans said that police apply different standards based on race, as compared to only 39 percent of white people polled.
Nevertheless, that survey's results also contain bad news for the president. Only 30 percent of Americans approve of the way Obama has handled the situations in Ferguson and New York City, while 46 percent disapprove.