“My tradition is not to remark on cases where there still may be an investigation,” declared President Obama as he upstaged New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio on December 3, speaking from the White House Tribal Nations Conference.  His statement was not difficult to evaluate for its truth content, but remarkable—even from him—for its revelation of his royal vanity.  Mr. Obama has been very busy lately turning everything into a show about him, as he makes speeches that are overloaded with the first-person singular in some form.

No matter which version you prefer of the horror flick The Blob (1956, 1972, 1988), the film wherein an alien life form absorbs everything into itself is not a bad model of the Obama Effect.  A local problem of civic disturbance resulting from the shooting death of a black citizen by a white policeman had Obama all over it as if he were the Rev. Al Sharpton—and indeed, the President has been spending a lot of time with the Reverend, consulting him about “Ferguson” and other pressing issues.  Now why would Obama so pointedly flaunt his grotesque outreach to such a respected advisor?  But to understand this, we must go back in time to see the sequence of events.

So we must remember that the shooting of Michael Brown, and the broadcast images from August 15, were well before the date of the fall elections.  By November 20, the amnesty was proclaimed, in defiance of the balloting; soon after, on November 24, the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson was announced, followed by the subsequent protests, rioting, arson, and undocumented shopping.  And then there was the nationalization of “Ferguson” in the form of protests in more than a hundred cities.

To some degree even in Ferguson, Missouri, itself, the crisis was mediated through the media—New York City and Washington, D.C., set the tone and called the shots.  The raging blogs and trolls were in tune with the New York Times and the newscasts.  The protests were mandated, and the collapse into rioting and looting was somehow inevitable.  Centuries of racism had set the tone—everything was as preordained as the “dark necessity” in The Scarlet Letter or the fate of Captain Ahab and the Pequod.

But it’s at just this point that a cultural revolution suggests itself, not only because numerous black observers deplored the destructiveness of the rioting, but because the mortmain of the past, or of its sanctioned fantasy, can no longer serve as a goad and model for civic action.  The loss of life and property in the riots of the 1960’s is a wound from which we have never recovered, for one reason because the theme of “white racism” is supposed to explain and justify—whatever.

“White racism” would suggest that black Americans don’t know where their best interests lie, but they do know—when they are not being misled.  Thoughtful people know that justice is a word or a process—it cannot be the predetermined goal of a legal hearing.  Justice cannot come from passion, but only from reason.  What does come from passion is self-destruction, as we know from Scripture, from ancient history, from the traditions of tragedy—and from modern history as well.

The experience of black people, if they can access it, will tell them what their exploiters will not.  Their own experience will tell them that torching stores and acting out their frustration is counterproductive—that all violence is a violation.  They are not the only ones (far from it) who need to sober up from provocative sound bites and images, and realize that they are being used.  Their own experience will tell them that it is not only unreasonable but even segregationist to demand that, in black neighborhoods, the police must be black.  It is no degradation to anyone to listen carefully to any police officer—an officer of the court—in any situation.

The bridging of the racial-consciousness gap would be a revolution indeed, but it will not be achieved through the confusion and even bad faith projected by Barack Obama.