“Stop deportations! Stop deportations!” is the chant that erupted during a speech given by President Obama in San Francisco.
As Obama was speaking, an audience member relentlessly shouted at him in the background, interrupting the speech.
“My family has been separated for 19 months now ,” the heckler stated. “…I’ve not seen my family. Our families are separated. I need your help. There are thousands of people – are torn apart every single day.”
President Obama tried to calm the man down by rationally talking to him, but the audience member refused to stop.
“Mr. President, please use your executive order to halt deportations for all 11.5 undocumented immigrants in this country right now. Do you agree – that we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform at the same time we — you have a power to stop deportation for all undocumented immigrants in this country. So, please, I need your help,” cried the man.
Before secret service could get to the heckler to toss him out, Obama refused to let them do so. The president insisted on letting the man stay and exercise is right to free speech.
“These guys don’t need to go. Let me finish. No, no, no, he can stay there. Hold on a second. Hold on a second,” said the President. “So I respect the passion of these young people because they feel deeply about the concerns for their families. Now, what you need to know, when I’m speaking as President of the United States and I come to this community, is that if, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition.
And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. And what I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve. But it won’t be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying and getting it done.”
The fact that Obama did not remove the heckler from the audience is an amazing sign that he is listening to the people. He didn’t try to insult or embarrass the audience member. Instead, he calmly explained the process of how to get things done. There is overwhelmingly enough support in Congress right now to pass an immigration reform bill, but it is being held up by Speaker John Boehner. While it is admirable for the President to recognize that free speech should not be limited to specific zones, the passionate audience member needs to recognize that if he’s going to yell, he should yell at the right people.
President Obama showed a lot of courage today by not having the heckler removed and by standing up, listening, and calmly explaining the reasons why the process has been moving incredibly slow. And that is something every American can believe in.
h/t: Politicus USA