Barack Obama's statement that the death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy that cries out for a more thorough investigation was the right and necessary thing to say.
But it fell far short of what was needed: a presidential call for a halt to the rhetoric that is stirring up racial rage and inflaming the nation. The incendiary language being deployed is both divisive and dangerous.
Addressing the Sanford, Fla., incident, Black Muslim Minister Louis Farrakhan tweeted: "Where there is no justice, there will be no peace. Soon, and very soon, the law of retaliation may ... be applied."
The New Black Panther Party has issued a "Wanted Dead or Alive" poster featuring the face of George Zimmerman, the man who shot Martin, and printed up a flier saying Martin was "murdered in cold blood."
When Panther leader Mikhail Muhammad was asked if this could ignite an explosive situation that has already seen death threats drive Zimmerman and his father from their homes, Muhammad cursed and said Zimmerman "should be fearful for his life."
Demanding "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," the Black Panther leader offered $10,000 for Zimmerman's capture and called for 5,000 black men to run him down.
"If the government won't do the job, we'll do it," he warned.
Spike Lee helpfully tweeted Zimmerman's home address.
Friends say Zimmerman fears for his life. One man has already been arrested for threatening to kill Bill Lee, the Sanford police chief who has stepped down and turned the investigation over to the state, the Justice Department, the FBI and a special prosecutor.
Returning from Geneva, Jesse Jackson, too, headed for Sanford, saying: "Blacks are under attack. ... Targeting, arresting, convicting blacks and ultimately killing us is big business." On arrival, Jackson said Trayvon Martin was a "kid shot down in cold blood by a vigilante."
Talk show host Joe Madison charged Zimmerman with a "hate crime." The Grio, a black news and opinion website, compares the killing of Trayvon Martin to the 1955 murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi.
Till, 14, had flirted with a white woman. Her husband and brother kidnapped, mutilated and murdered the boy and dumped his body into the Tallahatchie River. Emmett Till was lynched.
Trayvon Martin was shot by an overzealous Neighborhood Watch volunteer who grew suspicious of an unfamiliar black man or youth in a hoodie walking at night in the rain in a gated community he patrolled.
What appears to have happened is that, after alerting police to Martin's presence, Zimmerman followed him in his SUV -- against the advice of the cops. Where the street ended, Zimmerman got out.