Thursday, July 23, 2009

About Our Post-Racial President, Etc.

Here's Mike Williams' letter today - - -

Pictured below is tenured Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. being arrested for disorderly conduct by the Cambridge police.


You can read the actual police report here.

Obama himself weighed in last night during his press conference, saying the police acted “stupidly” after first admitting that he didn’t know the details of the case.

Patterico has probably the most informed posting I’ve read here.

I’ll give Ed Morrissey the last word for today on this one.

On Obamacare, the President’s sales pitch apparently fell flat. Both Reid and Pelosi have deferred Congressional action until the fall. That’s apparently now OK by Obama.

Allahpundit at Hot Air:

Well, no, champ, it’s not okay. It’s a huge, potentially crippling setback, and a personal embarrassment for him that his big health-care pep talk last night — which even his fans in the punditocracy are panning — was greeted this morning by Harry Reid deciding to pull the plug before the “deadline.”

No problem for the O, though; watch as he segues effortlessly into the new reality.

Too bad he didn’t falsely claim that he never expected to have a bill by August, though.

I’m at the point where I kind of look forward to those Orwellian “but let me be clear, I have consistently said” lies when he has to reverse himself on something.

Note his admonition to the Senate to “just keep working” while they’re getting ready to, um, take a month off.

Exit question: If health-care reform is such an urgent national priority, why aren’t the Democrats suspending their vacations to pass it?



Ex-prosecutor said...

Police officers have a tough job. People call them for help and, then, want to fight them. They never know when they'll be shot at or assaulted. The surest way to get arrested is to be loud and argumentative or ask the magic question, as did Dr. Gates, "Do you know who I am?"

My experience with many, many police officers over the years is that arrest is a last resort for an argumentative citizen. If Professor Gates had remained calm, he would not have been arrested.

In common parlance, his offense is called "contempt of cop." President Obama was completely off base in his comments, as he is in much of what he does.

Anonymous said...

I predicted this piece would grace John's blog, and I was curious to see what he would do with it. It is perfect fodder for anyone seeking to criticize President Obama, particularly those who look for any excuse to criticize him.

Let me begin by saying that I, personally, do not think calling a person or action "stupid" is ever the most tactful thing to do. This is the case regardless of who you are. There are better words to use, even if your opinion is given "in the heat of the moment." Opinions are frequently issued in such circumstances, however, so it is not uncommon to see someone comment without tact.

I also agree with Ex-prosecutor that police officers do have a difficult job. This does not excuse moral lapses or poor performance, but it does frequently aid in giving many officers a "bad rap." Mind you, there are plenty of corrupt cops in this world, and corruption comes in many forms. One does not need to be invested in the drug trade. One needs only to issue unwarranted citations to meet a monthly quota to attain such a status. But I digress. In this particular instance, I understand that the officer did seem to just be "doing his job," although I wonder if there might not have been a more effective way of doing it (protocol be damned!).

I also feel sympathy for the stances of both Doctor Gates and President Obama. To any and all, I pose the following question: Have you ever been arrested in your own home? Probably not, but maybe you have. I myself have not, but I can imagine it is probably a very frustrating, vexing, and humiliating experience (at least in our culture). Not only are you being taken into custody, but it is an event occurring in your house, your territory. The home has traditionally been seen as a sort of bastion where the line dividing the public and private spheres is drawn. In our (philosophically) liberal society, that line frequently blurs, but it is hard to deny that it is still there.

In Doctor Gates's situation, he had already been reported for supposedly breaking and entering, and was taken in on charges of creating a sort of domestic disturbance. I would point out, however, that Gates's behaviors were perfectly understandable, especially in our culture. A man is thrown into a confusing situation right in his own territory. That he becomes defensive should be no surprise, even if it is not the wisest action to take. I imagine that, if this is the first time you are returning home after a trip, the last thing you want to do is have to suddenly leave for the police station as well.

Ex-prosecutor says that the common protocol is not to arrest an argumentative citizen, and this may be the case. Was it necessarily the case in this instance? I know not. My question is at what point is the line drawn, and when does arrest become the only viable option? Did Gates cross that line, or was there a better way to dialogue the situation?

Mind you, I am not suggesting Gates's behavior was morally praiseworthy, but I am suggesting that the entire situation seems to have been one giant communication breakdown (which, frankly, I am not surprised by).

Say what you will about Obama's initial comments, but the rephrasing that "cooler heads should have prevailed" could apply to all parties here.

A final note: One can still question whether or not Gates and his driver would have even been reported if they were Caucasian. No, seriously, you can ask that question. There is no reason not to. In fact, there are studies that suggest that, for whatever reason, people in at least America tend to be more suspicious of individuals with darker skin than lighter skin. This is the case regardless of race. It is worth considering. Of course, if this is the case, I imagine that dealing with racial profiling will become all the more difficult.

Anonymous said...

You and your readers should Google search LAURENCE TRIBE AND THE COMMONWEALTH DAY SCHOOL, read the piece in the National Review, 1989.

This is how race really works in Cambridge. Tribe, of course, was Obama's mentor at Harvard Law. The people who forced Commonwealth Day out of town were/are the same Brattle Street liberals who claim to support Obama. No white trash live on Brattle Street, at least as measured by income. Obama must know this. He must know he himself (and Prof. Gates)is NOT considered equal in the eyes of the very (white) liberals who are excoriating the police officer.

Gates is a token black in Cambridge, sad but true. Were Gates propose to open a school for poor blacks, he'd be run out of town, just like the Commonwealth Day School.

Be interesting to see if Larry Tribe comments on the Gates matter.

TruthHurts001 said...

"In fact, there are studies that suggest that, for whatever reason, people in at least America tend to be more suspicious of individuals with darker skin than lighter skin."

Generally speaking, people also tend to be more suspicious of males than females.
Is this the result of prejudice against men?
Or maybe it's because men commit crime at a rate ten times greater than women.
It is a fact that blacks and hispanics commit crime at a rate significantly higher than whites.
Is it possible that this is a factor in why people tend to be more suspicious of dark-skinned individuals??

Jesse Jackson thinks so.

“There is nothing more painful for me at this stage in my life, than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery—and then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”
Jesse Jackson

One Spook said...

To the 8:40 AM

At the link below is an excellent example of how a private citizen should respond to a police officer's legal request that the citizen provide proper identification in his own home.

If Gates had behaved as this person did who was asked to provide ID while he was shaving in his own bathroom, none of this would have escalated into a national story that prompted ridiculous comments from many pundits, plus unfortunate, absurd and ill-informed comments from the president.

One Spook

Anonymous said...

To TruthHurts001 - I think, perhaps, I misstated the results of that study. By "suspicious" I meant more of a knee-jerk reaction. Have you ever played one of those arcade games where you are supposed to "shoot" at virtual targets, but only certain virtual targets and not others (ex-shoot at "burglars" and not "civilians")? That is what I meant.

I do not know if research has been done based on the characteristics of sex, although it probably has and I have not seen it. Regardless, what you are discussing is a reasoned bias (prejudice) versus the knee-jerk reaction I was discussing. I am sure that certain cultural biases could play into it for some people, but there is no evidence to suggest that this is the case for everyone.

To One Spook - Two points:

1) I probably missed the information on the page, but where is the verification of that story? I do not mean to seem rude but, on a blog where documented evidence seems to be a constant necessity, I thought I might ask.

2) The narrator of the story you post certainly seems to have been keeping things together. I suppose we could all wish for the same formative experiences that granted him such wisdom.

On the other hand, judging by much of the dismissive reaction to Sonia Sotomayor's comments about how formative experiences can grant one wisdom, I suppose we should just assume that all individuals are naturally disposed to behave in such a calm and reasonable manner.

ddadmin said...

Wow!! I never thought that this will be such a big news. It went from Gates arrest to Obama apalogy. This has become more interesting than what I thought. So, I collected all the sites or articles (more than 250 sites or articles) related to this hot topic "Cambridge Police Unit Demands Apology from Obama". If you are interested take a look at news, video coverage, people views and reviews on this topic at the below link.

One Spook said...

To the Anon @ 4:08 PM

Let me address your two points:

(1) I'm not sure what sort of "verification" you are seeking. The account was a first hand account of one of the blog owners. I think generally, most of us presume a blog owner relating a story of "what I saw" is correct.

But if you feel a need to "verify" it, perhaps you can write the blog owner and he'll give you the dates of the incident and the name of the police department that responded to the alarm, then you can call them and verify it. Please get back to us if you do that.

(2) Certainly the narrator was lucky to have good "formative experiences" that allowed him to appropriately interact with police officers.

And I believe this is one of the lessons of the Gates incident. We need to make sure that young people are not being inculcated by people like Gates who are stuck in the past with an antiquated view of police officers that resembles that of the "Jim Crow South" where every police officer was deemed to be a "Bull Connor."

Municipalities have spent millions and millions of dollars to form and support "Police Athletic Leagues" and similar initiatives that reach out to minority and poor/disadvantaged youth in order to assist in giving those young people a positive and accurate view of police officers.

The actions of old race baiters like Gates and others (Jackson, Sharpton) undermine those good efforts because much of the race baiters' livelihoods requires them to continually remind an entire class of people that they are "victims."

And, with respect to your observation about Sotomayor, I believe that much of the "dismissive reaction" as you describe it, toward her was rooted in the fact that she believed her "formative experiences" as a "Wise Latina" to be far superior to those of white males, and her casting her own experiences in that manner turned a lot of folks off.

One Spook