Thursday, July 23, 2009

Accentuating The Trivial: The Harvard Professor Flap

According to the police report filed on July 16th, a neighbor on Ware Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts saw two black men wearing backpacks trying to force their way into a home and called the Cambridge police. She had no way of knowing that one of the men was Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. All she knew was that two men she didn't know were attempting to force their way into one her neighbor's homes. She did the right thing.

Officer James Crowley, a sergeant on the Cambridge Police Force, responded to the call from a citizen that there may be a break-in in place. Upon arriving at the scene, he saw a black man standing in the foyer and asked if he would please come outside and identify himself, a request that the man inside refused and countered with his own demand that the officer identify himself. The officer complied and identified himself by name and rank, and from there it went downhill. Rather than continue to recount the events, I will post a link to The Smoking, which has posted a photocopy of the police report. Please read the report before continuing with this article because it will make a difference.

As it turns out, Gates' doorway was subjected to a previous break-in attempt and was stuck upon his return from a trip overseas. His driver was the other man witnessed by the neighbor and who was trying to force open the door. Now, one would normally think that hers were the actions of a good Samaritan. One might also think that Gates would have gladly shown the officer the requested identification and thanked him for his dedication to the community. One would be wrong. It also turns out that Gate's makes his living not only from his professorial duties at Harvard, but also from his exploitation of his race's past exploitation.

I am not writing this because of this case, though, despite its appeal to the sensibilities of people who are more than ready to move beyond antiquated racial divides. I write this mainly because of the reactions it has generated and, more importantly the absolutely stunning departure from sense and protocol displayed by the president last night.

Asked about this case, the president absent-mindedly offered an opinion that he had no business offering. He said that the Cambridge police "acted stupidly" with absolutely zero knowledge of the events outlined above. The officer himself has subsequently declined interviews for comment out of a cognizance of the law, noting that he cannot comment on a case currently under investigation, and yet the President of the United States blithely and ignorantly commented during a live, nationally televised press conference.

This is simply incomprehensible from a man who allegedly possesses a high I.Q. and law degrees and who should know better based strictly on a professional level. What it proves is that this president governs from a purely ideological standpoint rather than that of a man fully versed in our culture and standards. Even Bill Cosby said he was stunned that the POTUS would utter such nonsense at the podium.

Of course, another "race entrepreneur" has weighed in, and it is worth noting that he was also a presidential contender. Al Sharpton is complaining about police "abuse of power", which becomes laughable when one has actually read the police report.

But here's where the "trivial" from the title comes into play. Despite the enormity of the chain of events in this case as regards the POTUS, the main mea culpa now is that White House spokesman Robert Gibbs and Obama himself are trying to back-pedal on whether Obama meant to call the Cambridge police "stupid". Always the political animals, Democrats are now trying frantically to qualify the president's remarks while missing the damage already done by his failure to comprehend the weight of the office he holds.

Maybe it's me, maybe I'm trying to adjust to having a younger person than me running the country, but I seriously doubt that. Tradition does not suddenly become passe, and protocol never fades from fashion. I truly believe that the man I have repeatedly referred as a neophyte is just that, and I am afraid that he is way out of his league in his current position. What actually frightens me, however, is that the nation has suddenly become accepting of affirmative action in the Executive Branch of government.

God help us all.

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Edisto Joe said...

These are the actions of a lifelong opportunist and the reactions of a "not quite ready for prime time" President. Obama is trying to make up lost ground for saying he was against reperations. How he did it was "stupid".

Doubting Richard said...

"... the President of the United States blithely and ignorantly commented ..."

I would make one observation on this, that the President was probably not ignorant. He was, after all, a law professor.

Perhaps it would be better to say "... stupidly commented ..." because either he knew he was not in a position to comment, and was stupid enough to comment anyway or he is not as bright or capable as even I thought, and I think he is a vastly over-rated politician.