July 13, The Dallas Morning News on President Obama’s remarks at a police memorial in Dallas:
Dallas’ response in the days since five of our police officers were murdered demonstrates that our city can help show America how to heal its divisions over race and ease tensions over police violence.
That was the message President Barack Obama delivered Tuesday, and we couldn’t agree more.
The shooter, Obama noted, was motivated by racial hatred, but the white officers he killed had been motivated by love and service. Dallas has responded with more love and unity in the days since.
That’s a recipe for hope, the president said.
“We are not as divided as we seem,” he said. “And I know that because I know America. I know how far we’ve come against impossible odds. … And I know it because of what we’ve seen here in Dallas.”
We weren’t waiting for the President to tell us we’ve done what is right. We feel it in our bones, and see it in our neighbors’ faces. But the words are welcome anyway.
The truth is, even before any of Tuesday’s speeches, the service at the Meyerson Symphony Center was poignant and pitch-perfect. It was an appropriate capstone for five painful days that, despite our tears, have showed Dallas at its best.
Inside, the choir music was soothing and somber. The building itself, one of Dallas’ finest, was transcendent. The large, diverse crowd was still and solemn.
Outside, a soft breeze blowing under a blue sky seemed to somehow gentle the punishing summer heat. Protesters were all around, but their signs called for love to triumph over hate. Officers from Grand Prairie and Arlington stood vigil.
And when the service began, Mayor Mike Rawlings spoke for all of us when, with two presidents, a vice president, and their wives, seated to his right, he welcomed a nation watching on live television. “Our pain is your pain,” he said.
Dallas Police chief David Brown’s Stevie Wonder moment will not soon be forgotten, nor the cheers it brought. Sen. John Cornyn praised our fallen officers powerfully, and still called on all of us to have needed conversations about race and criminal justice.
Former President George W. Bush spoke for us when he told America that we have lost five members of our family. He reminded us, too, that Americans can dream their biggest dreams when men and women in uniform stand guard. He added, gently, that those guardians do best when they are trusted, trained and accountable.
But it was Obama who said the things that most needed saying. Words, he warned, are inadequate.
“I’ve seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change. I’ve seen how inadequate my own words have been,” he said.
He went beyond words, however, when he urged us to confront the racism we too often ignore. It is real, and the protesters like the ones in our streets last Thursday speak from places of pain and desperation. We must hear them even as we honor our police.
That’s what Dallas can do, and the good news is we’ve already begun.
As Obama said: “Weeping may endure for a night but I’m convinced joy comes in the morning.”
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