Friday, July 31, 2009

Stupidly

The word "stupidly" seems to have made a comeback in the last week. It all started when the press asked President Obama how he felt about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates for disorderly conduct. Professor Gates, a Harvard Professor, was arrested after a passer-by reported what looked like an attempted break-in. It turns out it wasn't a break-in, just the Professor trying to get in his own house. Now, I have locked myself out of the house and had to crawl in a window on more than one occasion, but have never had my neighbors or anyone else call the cops. However, had that been the case, I would have been happy to provide the officers with proof that I lived in said residence, and then let them go on their way. It's their job to investigate when something like that is reported, and I would be grateful that someone actually was trying to protect my private property. Mr. Gates wasn't so grateful, and for some reason unknown to any of us, he started bullying and threatening the police officer (Mr. Crowley). He even called him a racist. He was arrested. And the President said "the Cambridge Police acted stupidly". It set off a firestorm that had the FOP and many other people shaking their heads and wondering if the President understands anything about law enforcement.

Some news stations have berated the poor woman who made the 9-1-1 call, actually laughing because it appeared she didn't know her "neighbor", except it turns out she wasn't his neighbor but a passer-by playing the good Samaritan.

But I digress, really, because the fact is, even after the President made it clear that he didn't know all of the facts of the case, he still had to make a pronouncement that the arrest was a stupid move. Now, I'm not convinced it wasn't overkill, but overkill doesn't mean racist. I'm sure had the arresting officer been black, and the homeowner white, this wouldn't have even entered the collective thought process other than to shrug our shoulders and say "it happens".

The other day someone I was talking to brought this up in a round about sort of way saying that 6 months wasn't enough time to judge the President, and too many people were freaking out because there was a "darkie" in the White House. I blinked. Um, first of all, even jokingly, most people wouldn't use the term "darkie" - at least not people in my circles. Maybe we are too used to being accused of being racists for any number of reasons, but um... yeah... we wouldn't use that term. Second, I don't remember hearing a single commentator in the last 18 months (which is about as far back as my memory goes) make any reference to not wanting to vote for President Obama because he was black, and once he won, I don't remember any of them freaking out because there was a black man in the White House. So I asked, innocently enough, "Who said there was a problem with a black man in the White House?" I got this response "Glenn Beck called him racist."

Calling someone a racist doesn't necessarily mean you have a problem with their skin color does it? I mean, I know racists, both black and white, but that doesn't mean I'm afraid or upset with either white or black people because of it. Do I think Glenn was correct in his assumption? I don't know. I didn't hear the clip, and I haven't read more than that one sentence, so I'm going to vote present on that one. But, I think a point can be made that even after admitting he didn't have all the facts, President Obama's "stupidly" remark came off looking like he was looking for a racist in the situation. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't the black guy. At best, he jumped to an absurd conclusion that was in no means backed up by facts later revealed, not only about the case, but about the officer in question. At worst, he was confirming or agreeing with Mr. Gates that the officer in question had used racial profling in this case. (Although, I know for a fact, having worked in the 9-1-1 center, that the officer was just doing his job in requesting ID to confirm that the subject in the house, was, in fact, the owner.)

The fact is, the only two people in this case who acted stupidly were the President and his friend, Mr. Gates. Mr. Gates, had he really thought there was an issue, could have addressed it afterwards with Mr. Crowley's superiors. We took calls to the 911 center about that all the time - someone had an issue with the officer and wanted to speak to the chief. The President should have been smart and said "I don't know all the facts of the case, and as such, I think it would be inappropriate for me to offer an opinion at this time". Maybe a few liberal elite people might have been perturbed, but the rest of the country would have nodded their heads and said "smart man, our President".

Instead, today, people across the country aren't wondering if our President doesn't see all white people as potential criminals or hate-mongers just waiting to happen. I don't believe that either, by the way. I just think he rushed to make his judgment, and he's paying for it now.

And by the way...from this point forward, I thinkt he word "stupidly" should be banned.


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