History will criticize George W. Bush for plenty of things, but his ability to lead will not be one of them. "I have a different vision of leadership," the 43rd President once said. "A leader is someone who brings people together." Whether or not Americans agreed with where President Bush was leading, they had no doubt that he was.
Seven years later, under a vastly different administration, the nation is in serious turmoil. And the strong, decisive leadership it once knew, is gone. Like his predecessor, President Obama has had his share of crises. From Sandy Hook to Boston, the tests of leadership have been significant -- but the response far different. After the horror in Charleston, a weary Obama stood at the podium and acknowledged, "I've had to make statements like this too many times."
Unfortunately for America, rarely have they inspired the same reassurance and resolve the country has known from his predecessors. Too often, President Obama has sown division in place of solace, agenda in place of understanding, and rhetoric in place of action. Yesterday's speech was no different. We agree with the President that "there is something particularly heartbreaking about a death happening in a place in which we seek... peace."
But the irony of that statement is that he makes it as the leader of an administration that has done everything it can to create a culture -- not of violence -- but of hostility to the very religious expression he now memorializes. No one should be afraid to go to church to celebrate their faith or leave church to practice their faith in their community. "[W]e know," the President went on, "the hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals."
Sadly, Americans no longer have a concept of what true hatred is. Thanks to the twisted distortions of the Left, the very meaning of the word has been diluted from what it really is -- animating senseless murder and violence -- to political dissent. This is hatred -- gunning down men and women in cold blood -- not the act of disagreeing over moral views. Liberals fail to see the difference, instead recklessly labeling opponents "hateful" simply for believing differently than they do.
Hate is what motivates men like this to slaughter innocent people. It's what drives such a disrespect for humanity that men like Floyd Corkins can walk into FRC with the intent to kill as many people as possible. While the White House bemoans our culture of animosity, it continues to inflame it through policies that accelerate moral decline and family breakdown. But instead of recognizing the root cause of moral breakdown, it blames the violence on a familiar scapegoat: gun control.
As Americans, we must have the honesty to step back and examine the real issues, even if the President continues exploiting these tragedies to accomplish his ultimate goal: expanding government at the expense of personal freedom. "The real work of reducing violent crime is the work of rebuilding the family," FRC's Dr. Pat Fagan has said. Yet the President continues to seize on the moment to place blame where it does not belong. "[W]e do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun."
The reality is, someone who wants to inflict harm will find a way. Ask the amputees in Boston, or the Christians in Syria. Is ISIS using guns to behead its victims? No. The government can't make us safer until it recognizes that the problem isn't the instruments of violence -- but the environment of it. Stronger gun laws wouldn't have prevented the deaths of those nine people in South Carolina, any more than it would have stopped Floyd Corkins from walking into our lobby and shooting Leo Johnson. "The heart of the matter is not guns," Dr. Ben Carson told Fox News's Megyn Kelly yesterday. "The heart of the matter is the heart."
What happened in the basement of that Charleston church should be an opportunity for earnest soul-searching in this nation -- not an excuse to push an agenda that at best ignores America's problems, and at worst, exacerbates them. It's time to recognize that the cure for violence, for racism, for hatred isn't in Washington. It's in pulpits just like African Methodist Episcopal's, where real reconciliation is possible. The church must lead. And this President must step away from his assault on faith and let it.