The Slatest

Obama: This Isn’t the ’60s, Americans Really Aren’t That Divided

President Barack Obama speaks to the media at the conclusion of the Warsaw NATO Summit on Friday in Warsaw, Poland.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

President Obama pushed back against those who have been claiming that the spate of violence in recent days demonstrates that the United States is just as divided now as it had been in the past. “This has been a tough week,” Obama said during a news conference in Warsaw, Poland, where he took part in his last NATO summit. “First and foremost for the families who have been killed but also for the entire American family.” Despite these difficulties, Obama said, “it was just not true” that the country was returning “to the situation in the ’60s.”

“There is sorrow. There is anger. There is confusion about next steps. But there is unity in recognizing that this is not how we want our communities to operate. This is not who we want to be as Americans,” Obama said. “You have not seen riots, and you have not seen police going after people who are protesting peacefully.” Calling the Dallas attacker a “demented individual,” Obama said that he was “no more representative of African Americans than the shooter in Charleston was representative of white Americans.”

Obama also said the work of law enforcement is made harder by the sheer number of guns on the street, noting that some of the protesters in Dallas were openly carrying weapons. “Imagine if you are a police officer and you’re trying to sort out who is shooting at you, and there are a lot of people who have guns on them,” he said. “If you care about the safety of our police officers, you can’t set aside the gun issue and pretend it’s irrelevant.”

Obama tried to tone down talk of divisions among citizens a day after Donald Trump said that “our nation has become too divided” and “racial divisions have gotten worse, not better.”

Obama said he will be cutting his European tour short to return to the United States on Sunday with plans to visit Dallas early next week.