The President acted stupidly, not the Cambridge police

Jul 24, 2009 by

In an incident heard around the  world President Obama accused the Cambridge police of acting “stupidly” in the arrest of a prominent black scholar and Harvard professor. The arrest of Professor Henry Gates followed a report of a possible burglary. A neighbor reported that two black men with backpacks were forcing open the door of what later turned out to be Gates home. Gates had apparently forgotten his keys and was jimmying the door to get inside. According to the testimony of Cambridge police officer Carlos Figueroa, who responded to the call along with officer James Crowley, when he arrived at the scene officer Crowley was already inside the house. The filed police report says Crowley had asked Gates for some identification and Gates had shouted that he would not give any information and called the officer racist. According to the report, Gates then yelled, “This is what happens to black men in America.” When Crowley tried to calm Gates down, Gates shouted, “You don’t know who you’re messing with.” The report continues that the shouting went on after Gates and the officers walked out onto the front porch. When Gates allegedly wouldn’t cooperate or calm down, Crowley arrested him for disorderly conduct.

It seems to me that this was a case of a man who has racial issues of his own losing it when a white police officer had the hubris to actually try to do his job. Refusing to show ID when asked by a police officer is not a smart thing to do. To start shouting at a police officer, calling him a racist, demanding the name of the officer and his badge number, saying things like “you don’t know who you’re messing with” are also not very smart things to do. When the police respond to a call the best thing you can do is cooperate and not lose your temper. The officers did not know who Gates was and were just trying to determine what was going on. I would think that Gates would have been appreciative of the officers, who were there after all to protect Gates home from being burglarized. Gates complained that Crowley did not have his permission to enter the house. Police do not need permission to enter a house if the owners refuse to identify themselves and the police are investigating a potential break-in and burglary.

This whole incident could have been avoided if Gates had acted rationally, like most people would have. But as I said before it seems that Gates has a giant chip on his shoulder and real issues with white people, especially white police officers. His comment of “this is what happens to black men in America” is interesting. Maybe he was referring to the fact that being black in America means you have the opportunity to become a respected scholar and Harvard law professor. The comment “you don’t know who you’re messing with” reflects someone who has a overinflated sense of his position as well as someone who knows he can play the race card effectively to say and do anything he wants. Or maybe he knew that his buddy, the President of the United States, would take his side while not even knowing the facts of the incident.

But the most troubling aspect of this whole affair is the President of the United States publicly siding with Gates without knowing all the facts (which he actually admitted) and then calling the arrest stupid. The President then went on talking about racial profiling and how it is a continuing problem in America. To quote the President “What I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of Africa-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.” Why did the President mention racial profiling “separate and apart from this incident.?” There was obviously no racial profiling going on here. Every time a white police officer arrests a minority it is not “racial profiling.” If the neighbor had reported two white men attempting to break into the house does anyone think the Cambridge police would have ignored the call? Does anyone think the Cambridge police would not have asked to see their identification? Does anyone think the police would not have arrested them if they had started shouting epithets and being uncooperative?

Everything officer Crowley did that night was standard police procedure. The issue of race was injected into the incident by Gates. If anyone is a racist it is Professor Gates. Officer Crowley teaches a course on racial profiling for other officers and gave CPR to a dying Reggie Lewis, the Boston Celtics star who had a fatal heart attack in 1993 during a practice game at Brandeis University, where Crowley was a campus police officer at the time. The next day Professor Gates felt compelled to go before a group of African-Americans and continue to stoke the fires of racial discord by continuing to blame racial profiling for the incident. It is also notable that a majority of police agencies around the country have come down solidly on the side of officer Crowley and the Cambridge police department.

President Obama even went so far as to demand that officer Crowley apologize, again without knowing all the facts of the case. In fact President Obama mistakenly thought that Professor Gates was arrested for being in his own house after showing ID. He did not realize that Professor Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct. To quote officer Crowley, ” That apology will never come. It won’t come from me as Jim Crowley. It won’t come from me as a sergeant in the police department. I know what I did was right. I have nothing to apologize for.”

The White House tried to downplay Obama’s comments by saying that the President was not calling officer Crowley stupid. I guess he was calling the whole Cambridge police department stupid instead. If anyone should apologize it should be Professor Gates for throwing a temper tantrum and calling an officer who is clearly not a racist a racist. President Obama should also apologize to officer Crowley and the entire Cambridge police department. But I would not expect an apology to be forthcoming from Professor Gates and probably not President Obama either.

Even a CNN commentator, Maria Haberfeld, wrote in her commentary that Obama rushed to judgment on police in the incident. To quote her commentary: “We teach our children to think about what others feel before they act, but as grown-ups we frequently assume we understand what others do without ever having walked in their shoes.” She further goes on to say: “I was not there. Neither was the president nor all the others who are quick to pass judgment.”  Her commentary is very enlightening and can be read here.

Another great perspective, more eloquently presented than I can ever hope to do, on the incident can be seen here. (from CNN iReport), entitled “Shame on the President and SHAME on GATES for Pimpin’ the moment.

And while I was not there either, I at least waited until I had most if not all the facts in before writhing this post. That is something President Obama cannot say.

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Racism charges fly in Presidential race.

Oct 14, 2008 by

racistbf5 Racism charges have been leveled all too frequently in the Presidential race. The most recent example involves a sign that was posted outside a small town in Missouri. The sign had a caricature of Senator Obama wearing a turban with the middle name Hussein in quotes. Beneath the caricature were the words:

Equals More – Abortions, same sex marriages, taxes, gun regulations.

I cannot remember where the sign was first blogged about but the comments about it were mostly about how racist it was and how the town where the sign was posted was full of racists and bigots. On FriendFeed, a social media site, one commenter said it was a “shining example” of small town values. His assertion was that most small towns were inhabited by racists and that a sign like this would have never been allowed to have been erected in a large town with a significant minority population. Most of the other comments I read were about how racist it was, how all McCain supporters were racists, and that this is the type of racism that Obama has to contend with.

At the risk of being labeled a racist myself, I just don’t see anything in this sign that is  racist. The obvious reference to Obama being a Muslim,  with the emphasis on his middle name and the turban, are hardly racist. If anything, it may be a slight against Muslims, but Muslims are not a race, they are a religion. While the caricature of Obama is anything but flattering, I have seen worse ones of President Bush, John McCain, and even Sarah Palin. I have seen attacks similar to this perpetrated by the MSM against President Bush, John McCain, and Sarah Palin and no one ever called them racist. Does the simple fact that Senator Obama is African-American make the sign racist? Are you not allowed to level accusations against African-Americans without automatically being labeled a racist? Is there a double standard in effect here?

The dictionary definition of a racist is “ a person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others.” In what way does this sign foster that belief? The dictionary definition of racism is “ a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.”  Again, in what way does the sign foster that belief? Is the fact that many people believe Obama stands for the things that the sign accuses him of  racist?  Aren’t the assertions listed commonly believed to be what most Democrats support?  If given a chose, a percentage of blacks would always vote for a black candidate just as a percentage of whites would always vote for a white candidate. Is this racist or simply the belief that one of your same race can best represent you? Even if that belief is not necessarily true, it is hardly racist.

Being white, I know that I may see some things differently than a black person would. And while this sign is unflattering and the accusations may not be totally accurate, and it may be pandering to the fears that Obama is somehow soft on terrorism because of his alleged Muslim background, I don’t see how it can be labeled racist. If someone sees things differently, and I am sure some may, I invite you to enlighten and educate me on the matter.


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CNN commentator says race is big factor against Obama.

Sep 18, 2008 by

CNN commentator Jack Cafferty recently made an absurd claim about the Presidential campaign. Mr Cafferty seems to think the reason the polls are very close has to do with the fact that Barack Obama is an African-American. Caffery says considering the disaster of the last 8 years with a Republican White House, a typical Democratic candidate should have an insurmountable lead in the campaign by now. Cafferty goes on to say.

The polls are very close, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, unless it’s race.

Now I may not be a big-time commentator like Jack Cafferty but even I can see the fallacy of his statements. In the 2004 Presidential election Bush ran against John Kerry, who if I am not mistaken was white. Yet that race was very close, despite what many people thought was an already disastrous 4 years of President Bush. So much for the statement that a typical Democratic candidate would have an insurmountable lead by now. In the 2000 Presidential election Bush ran against Al Gore. Yet that race too was very close, with Bush only winning after a long and bitter voting process.

Even if the Democratic candidate was white the polls would still reflect a very close race. After all, this country is pretty evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. It is not likely that many Republicans would vote for a Democratic candidate no matter what the Democrats may think about the 8 years of President Bush’s time in office. Could it be possible that the polls are very close simply because people are voting the party line or that they just don’t like where Obama stands on the issues?

In the video I watched of Cafferty making his race remarks, he throws up some hand-picked viewer comments that support his views and say that most white Americans are still basically racist. If that were really the case, would Obama have even won the Democratic nomination? In 2006 African-Americans made up approximately 14% of the population. So in order for Obama to have won the nomination and be as close as he is with McCain in the polls, a lot of non African-Americans must have voted for him or support his bid for the White House. Are there some people that will not vote for Obama simply because he is an African-American? Of course there are. Is race the main reason that the polls are as close as they currently are? Of course it is not.

Is Jack Caffery simply being ignorant when he makes statements like this or does he think that in some way his comments will help Obama win the Presidency? Your guess is as good as mine. I know that Virginia, where I live, elected the first African-American( Douglas Wilder) as Governor in 1990. At that time African-Americans made up 19.9% of the Virginia population. You do the math. The bottom line is that most Americans, no matter what their race, will vote for the candidate they think will best serve them and their country. Jack Cafferty is dead wrong.

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Texas official sees Racism in outer space.

Jul 11, 2008 by

In what I consider an absolutely ludicrous complaint of racism, a Texas county official demanded an apology for the use of the term “black hole” by another Texas county official. In a recent county commissioners’ meeting over traffic tickets one white commissioner referred to the county’s Central Collections office as a “black hole”, referring to tickets disappearing into it.  Immediately one black official demanded an apology while Commissioner John Wiley Price, who is also black, said that type of language is unacceptable.

Anyone who has taken science in high school knows that the term black hole refers to a star that has collapsed upon itself, creating a mass so dense and small that it’s gravitational force is so great that even light cannot escape. Where there is an absence of light it is black, ergo the name “black hole.” How anybody can possible think that the term black hole, used in the context it was used in or for that matter almost any conceivable context, is racist defies imagination. Commissioner Price went on to add some more terms that he defines as racist. I am going to quote him on this because I swear I am not making this up.

So if it’s angel food cake it’s white. If it’s devil’s food cake, it’s black. If you’re the black sheep of the family, then you gotta be bad, you know. White sheep, you’re okay. you know?

Please for the love of God someone explain to me how devil’s food cake is a racist term. As far as I know the devil is not black. According to Wikipedia the names angle food and devil’s food have to do with the fact that one is light and does not use butter and the other does. In other words devil’s food got its name for indulgence. As for the black sheep reference, I will let Wikipedia again define the origin of that term.

The term originated from the occasional black sheep which are born into a herd of white sheep due to a genetic process of recessive traits. Black sheep were considered commercially undesirable because their wool cannot be dyed as white wool can. In 18th and 19th century England, the black color of the sheep was seen as the mark of the devil.

In another absurd attempt to explain why he thought the terms were racist he came up with this gem.

“You know, I’m okay if I’m bartering with you but if I try to ‘Jew you down,’ Ooooooh. Is that racist? I thought it meant the same thing? No, maybe it doesn’t.

I can just feel the animosity and rage that is wrapped up in that quote. But his example is absurd. ‘Jew you down’ has always been a racist statement for obvious reasons where as references to devil’s food cake and black holes have never been. There is good reason to label the term ‘Jew you down’ racist while there is absolutely no reason to label the other terms racist. If you would accept Mr. Price’s argument,  maybe we should just strike the word black from the English language since apparently it is  racist to use it in any manner. You know, terms like ‘black as night’ , black mark on your record, black gold, etc.

Believe me, I understand that there is a lot of latent racism or at least perceived racism in a lot of phrases and terminology that extends back for hundreds of years. But the examples Mr. Price takes offence at are certainly not good examples and the fact that he and others would take offense at them is sad. Demanding an apology for using the term ‘black hole’ when it was used in a perfectly legitimate and non-racist manner is not going to help or solve anything. It would have been far better for Mr. Price to have taken the other official aside and explained why he thought the term was offensive, allowing the other person to respond. Calling someone a racist when he is not is almost as bad as being a racist yourself.

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