Gates and race
Posted by Peter W. Schramm
Here is Rich Lowry’s sensible take on the matter. And Ben Smith at Politico thinks Obama made a mistake, perhaps a large one, in commenting on it.
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I like how one of the people quoted in the Smith article give Obama credit for giving "The other" side of the dispute. If you mean giving an incomplete, biased account that takes sides while demanding totally unearned credit for fairness as giving "the other" sides, then sure. I have some sympathy for Gates in all of this. Sometimes focusing on the past can distort your perceptions of the present. But I have no sympathy for Obama. His perfromance on the Gates incident was no more honest than his perfromance on healthcare.
Obama's remarks will be seen as perfectly justifiable by a large segment of the population. Most people who really like him will not see his remark as straying into presidential gaffe territory.
I still say that Gates has every right to be a pompous ass, maybe especially in his own home. This photo of him is everywhere and the black officer right up front makes Gates' whole public fuss look silly. Yes, we can all be irritated at him for a professional life spent trying to get us all to see America through his race-colored vision, but truly, gentlemen cannot be arrested for ungentlemanly moments or what man is safe from arrest?
We can just hope that this does not escalate into Gates as the intellectual's Rodney King. Pompous collegians of race will take to the streets in protest? Too much.
Clearly in most of these "incidents" the offending party, who is quickly labeled as a bigot and a racist, is guilty until proven innocent. Unfortunately, few come to the aid of the person, in this case a police officer, whose reputation is being dragged through the mud, and therefore, there is little reason to believe the truth will ever be known. Racism, when it happens, is not acceptable, but indiscriminately labeling decent human beings as racists, or applying other publicly defaming titles, can be no more acceptable in society.
The cop needs to lawyer up and go after Gates.
The time for discussion has ended. Obama has pronounced that the policeman acted stupidly; thus it is so. The offending officer should be relieved from duty immediately, and never allowed to work in the security field again. The mayor of Cambridge should declare a day of restitution, so Professor Gates can receive adequate apologies for the horrendous and unforgivable actions taken against him. This whole incident makes me ashamed and sickened to live in America.
Gates was not arrested for what he said in his home, but for following the officers out to the street screaming at them and calling them racists in front of a growing crowd of people. That's disorderly conduct by definition. Read the police reports by two of the officers.
if the police can just arrest people for being obnoxious, self-righteous fools, then I am not very comfortable about that.
Police cannot arrest people being obnoxious, self-righteous fools. I'm tempted to add "Alas!". I'd turn in several commenters on this blog.
They can arrest people for causing a public disturbance though.
All right, Gates is an even bigger fool than I suggested previously. Still, isn't this all being blown out of proportion? It seems all as out-sized as Gates' personal pride.
It's being blown out of proportion thanks to Obama the Racial Healer making an issue of it.
1. In my experience growing up and working in a midsize, racially diverse city, if you give a cop alot of crap and you are in technical violation of even a minor law, the cop will enforce that law to the hilt. It is something I keep in my in my interactions with the police. I guess they don't teach that at Harvard.
2. Part of me can sympathize with Gates. I can imagine, based on Gates' PERCEPTION of things like the officer's expression and tone of voice that might have set him off. This guy come into your house. He looks around like he owns it. He looks at you like you are an intruder in your own home. He asks for your identification. It is like you are being made to crawl for him in your own house. It is like everything you have accomplished means nothing and the last sixty years never happened. All of this happens all at once and the feeling aren't even words yet. They are just a determination to stand up for yourself. I'm not saying Gates was right. But he, as well as the officer, is a human being and not a cartoon character. There is something poignant to the situation.
3. My brilliant, moderate Republican wife (who thinks Gates was totally in the wrong) pointed out that every breath and pixel spent on this issue is one not spent pointing out that Obama came out for a middle-class tax increase, that he would destroy the private health insurance market and is showing a penchant for creepy and ignorant rationalizations for denying needed care.
Gates' PERCEPTION of things
Of course Gates perception of things is that of a professional racist.
John M, I do think there is more to it than that. Sometimes knowing (being consumed by?) history can distort your ability to understand the moment. Imagine Gate was thinking about all the times black people had been humilated by police officers in the past. He knows that many heroic black people had stood up. He knows they had far fewer advantages and less power than he does. What does that say about him if he does not stand up for himself in the moment? He can't be heroic as they were, but he can at least stand up like a man. I'm not saying that this in any way justifies his behavior (or even that my intepretation is correct), but we should try to look at him like a real person.
knowing (being consumed by?) history can distort your ability to understand the moment.
Isn't that just a more polite way way of saying that Gates is a professional racist?
What does that say about him if he does not stand up for himself in the moment?
Stand up? Stand up for what? His right to be a prick and a bully?
Imagine Gate was thinking about all the times black people had been humilated by police officers in the past.
Only a professional racist would have been thinking that under these circmstances. And I really really wish that white people like you would stop making excuses for blacks in their racial obsessions.
1. No it means that he might have honestly misunderstood the moment. That is no excuse. He is an adult.
2.In the moment, I don't think he thought that he was acting like any kind of bully. I suspect that he felt bullied, violated, and humilated.
3. If the police report is substantially true, Gates was wrong in seeing the cop as a personification white racism, rather than a human being doing a job. That says something about Gates, but it is not making excuses to say that people are complicated, and that we might sympathize even when we think they have acted badly.
it means that he might have honestly misunderstood the moment.
I'm sure that Bull Connor was honest and sincere in his beliefs also, based on his being "consumed by history".
You seem to think that I'm saying that Gates was lying. I'm not. He may well have been sincere in his beliefs, in the same sense that the Nazis were sincere in their beliefs about Jews. I just don't agree that "honestly" thinking something makes it all right.
John M, I think you can be sincere and wrong and not be as bad as Bull Connor. I never suggested that you said Gates was lying, only that what was going on inside him might have been more complicated than the discussion had so far indicated. I don't know where you get the idea that I ever suggested that Gates' behavior was in any way "all right".
Then read your comment #10.
Okay. It is still not a defense of Gates' behavior.
"I still say that Gates has every right to be a pompous ass, maybe especially in his own home. This photo of him is everywhere and the black officer right up front makes Gates' whole public fuss look silly."
America's right-wing TV and radio blowhards really owe you one for that first sentence! The second sentence though tells me you know laughably little about how policing actually works.
Independent, I am not saying anything about what is absolute truth in relation to the photo, I am only speaking about appearances. That poor man looks silly.
I must have been terribly unclear. I am saying that anyone has a right to be a pompous ass, even Gates. He has made himself ridiculous as a man, not as a "person of color". "Do you know who I am?" is the question of a person too full of himself and his position to laugh at the ludicrousness of his situation. A policeman came to Gates' house to defend it from a possible burglary. That it was Gates breaking in should have been a moment for humor, not for that fury. A man who cannot laugh at that situation is a man who will be laughed at, if the situation becomes public. I am sorry for Gates, maybe most of all because he has to live with himself and the rest of us may get to forget about him in time.
In a world without a history of racial oppression I would absolutely agree with Kate and Art. Even as things stand, of course it seems silly. If a police man came and tried to stop me from breaking into my own apartment, I'd be relieved that my neighbors were paying attention.
But I'm white and everywhere I go there are people in charge who look like me and act like me. People in jail don't look like me (for the most part). And before we start talking about "street crime" too much - Nathan - we should keep in mind that most of our country's prisoners are incarcerated for non-violent drug use. Moreover, while most drug offenders are white, blacks are incarcerated at a much higher rate (which, admittedly, might be the result of socio-economic problems and who can higher decent lawyers).
In a country that locks up 1% of its population (the worst people in the world must live here!), I might be a bit more nervous if I looked like the majority of the incarcerated.
Gates was ridiculous, though. Why not just file a complaint later? Why the spectacle? That part of this discussion I think Kate nailed: a person too full of himself and his position.
Wow! "Hire", not "higher". Heh.
In a world without crime I might agree with Gates. The very real history of racial oppression was no excuse for Gates to treat the officer as an embodiment of white racial oppression (which if the police report is substantially correct, Gates started doing from the very begining) rather than a human being doing a job.
As for the spectacle: I think that was Gates' way of standing up for himself in the moment. Maybe shutting up and filing a complaint later felt like cowardice in that moment. And if he had not mouthed off to the officer, what would the complaint say? That a cop responding to a reported a break-in came by and asked to see his ID?
My favorite lines today were that the police "over-reacted" while Gates "probably over-reacted," meaning that Gates might not have, and that is true but not in the way Obama sees. While the case may be made that the arrest was an over-reaction, it was still, at the end of the day, a "reaction," meaning that something had to initiate it. That something was the bellicose arrogance of Gates.
Also, Obama called this a "teachable" moment, and he was absolutely right. I am quickly learning how racist Obama's "friends" are.
The very real history of racial oppression was no excuse for Gates to treat the officer as an embodiment of white racial oppression
What "very real history" are you on about, pete. In my lifetme blacks have been treated better than anybody else by our government. At what point do we start expecting these whiny children to grow up and act like proper citizens?
But I'm white and everywhere I go there are people in charge who look like me and act like me.
No, you pathetic little clown, there are not. For one thing the person in charge of the country does not "look like you". And we can all be deeply greatful that typical white people don't act like you, which is to say like a caricature of the spoiled, ignorant, trust-fund baby with a bottomless eagerness to suck up to "authentic" black people in their stuggle against The Man. Finally, the law is not supposed to be based on peoples "feelings", in this case the alleged feelings of the poor oppressed Skippy Gates, friend of the POTUS and Harvard professor.
Just how sheltered can one person be?
Moreover, while most drug offenders are white, blacks are incarcerated at a much higher rate (which, admittedly, might be the result of socio-economic problems and who can higher decent lawyers).
You ignorant poltroon, blacks are incarcerated at high rates because they commit violent crime at very high rates, at rates about ten times as high as whites. There is no mystery about their being in prison. Didn't those clowns at Ashcroft teach you anything? Like how to think?
Academia is full of these race-peddlers who are lauded as "the best black scholars" yadda yadda. In fact, they are generally people of mediocre intellect who are racist down to their bones. What sickens me is how far above their rightful station these people have been promoted. We have far more brilliant (alas, non-black or Hispanic) professors languishing at lesser institutions to make room for these fools. Like most of his ilk, Gates has lived his professional life with an enormous chip on his shoulder, and (God bless him), a good cop finally knocked it off. RELEASE THE VIDEO, CAMBRIDGE PD!
No, ArtDeco, that fact that Matt cited is definitely NOT rubbish.
Also good to hear from "Redwald" the One True Arbiter of real intellect!
"Number of persons under jurisdiction of state correctional authorities by most serious offense, 1980-2005"
State Court Sentencing of Convicted Felons 2004 - Statistical Tables Felony Case Processing in State Courts
Obama didn't just make a "mistake." He was arrogant, crass, and irresponsible about this. The arrogance continues with his lack of apology.
I think Matt might be confusing people held in federal custody with people held in state custody - which is where most prisoners are actually held.
John M, Within Gates' lifetime, the majority of black people were denied the vote by a combination of fraud and terrorism. Racist treatment (often by local government)did not end with the passage of the 1960s Civil Rights laws, affirmative action, whatever. On the level of everyday life, many African Americans might legitimately feel like they have not been treated better, or as well as, everybody else (many white people too). As for what we expect. I expect people to treat each other as human beings and not the embodiments of racial categories. I'm a John Roberts guy on this. But this expectation does not preclude me from having sympathy for Gates. I'm just saying people are complicated even when they are in the wrong. I would be saying the same thing if it was a white person who treated a black person in a racist way.
AD, my pointis that the knowledge of these things and many others, may have caused Gates to apply the wrong context to the situation. The fact that he had not personally faced racism in its most radical form might have been a goad to him - made him feel like more of a coward for not standing up in what he might have thought was its current form. The knowing that other people in much more vulnerable situations had stood up to racism might have been a spur. I never wrote that this in any way mitigates Gates' responsibility for his behavior, only that his motivations, especially in the moment, might have been more complicated than has been let on.
Sorry. The boys may have a point. Here are federal numbers. There are other stats on the site.
Oh, I totally agree with you, Pete. I actually think projecting racial oppression onto one police officer does a real disservice to racial oppression (not to mention the officer).
But if I thought that a police officer was "profiling" me, I imagine I would have a greater amount of success in proving that by being the most cooperative I could possibly be and reporting the perceived problem later on . . .
AD, it is in the second half of the sentence, trying to understand how Gates' actions might have seemed to him, the right thing to do at the time. I don't think there is any contradiction between doing that, and not mitigating Gates' responsibility for his own behavior. Why try? Because trying (I'm not convinced my interpretation of Gates' motivations is the right one, rather than a possible one)to understand how each side sees itself and its behavior might add to our understanding of a situation, even if it might not change how we apportion praise and blame in a given case.
about 10% of our prison population is in for possession of street drugs.
Ummm, "drug charges" is not the same thing as "drug possession".
Furthermore, "drug charges" is usually what felons plea down to when arrested for things like assault. It's a myth that out prisons are filled with people busted for getting caught with a joint.
On the level of everyday life, many African Americans might legitimately feel like they have not been treated better, or as well as, everybody else
They might well "feel" it. They would not legitimately feel it. Can we drop this notion that peoples feelings are always legitimate, whatever they might be?
John M, I notice you left out the part in parenthesis. I wrote that many African Americans might based on their own experience feel that the treatment they have personally experienced from the government was (in comparison to most people) not as good. I did not limit it to African Americans - and it sure does not include all African Americans. If I was a white parent who had a kid at South Boston High in the first half of the 1970s, I might feel the same way.
One can not those things and still expect people to treat others as individual human beings rather than as embodiments of resentments.
I was thinking that this incident and the POTUS' comments reflected a class bias of some successful ivy-leaguers, who are a Harvard professor and the POTUS, looking down their noses at some dumb ethnic cop, who is of course, by definition, racist and stupid. I'm glad they look like ridiculous fools and is causing a backlash against their liberal ideologies among common Americans.
AD, where did I suggest that Crowley was at fault or that you were in any way obligated to care about anything? As for your last paragraph, see my comment #12. That might not have been what was going on inside Gates, it was my sympathetic account of what might have been going on in his mind. I could be wrong and there are other, less charitable explanations of his behavior.
I still don't think anyone asked you to care.
Remember the word of the nine finger enforcer Rahm Emanuel never waste a crisis.
Obama in crisis mode doing some race baiting this is classic community organizing move trying to change the news cycle to go from failed health care reform to
The Cambridge police department answered the crisis with some "racial profiling" MELISSA HARRIS LACEWELL of the Nation rag wrote When police arrested Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., they managed to handcuff and detain the living embodiment of post-racial possibility" Arrogance with a big mouth
negative numbers alone with a failed week for obama.
50: Pete, yeah, I bet there is class bias here.
Tony, I mean.
It was for Tony, but I agree that class was an issue too - and in alot of different ways. I wonder if Gates knows any cops well (he could say some of my best friends are...). He did not teat the officer as if he is used to treating white cops like people rather than racial categories. Though I wonder if Gates' social class made him in some ways more insecure in the situation.
Obama's role as been wholly deplorable. He has been dishonest, polarizing, cowardly, and dishonest by turns. He is actually getting less grief over the issue than he deserves.
Obama made no mistake. He fully meant to say what he did; likely even planted the question.
Whenever he veers off TOTUS, he cannot suppress his true racist and other feelings.
BTW: Apparently neither Obama nor Gates, both who represent the arrogance of academia, understands that when dealing with police officers in a situation such as Gates', you do not berate them, taunt them, challenge them, regardless of their gender or skin color.
BTW: Spot-on "Comment 32 by John." "Ignorant poltroon"? Nice combo: ignorance + cowardice. Seems to characterize the Racist- and Know-Nothing-in-Chief, doesn't it?
Gates Has Little Man Complex
The media has labeled Gates a scholar. That's a favorite ploy by the media, giving out titles to undeserving Democrats/Liberals in an effort to raise their prestige or stifle debate about them. Bush was dumb, Hillary the smartest woman in the world, Clinton a gifted politician, Palin an out of touch buffoon. Gates is no scholar, he is a little pipsqueak, Black racist, that has ridden the affirmative action horse into the ground. Gates said to Officer Crowley,"you do not know who you are messing with" (that's illuminating for a scholar--a playground threat)well we all know now and I sure hope Officer Crowley sues Gates' no good a*s off for defamation. Harvard has become the American hot bed for the teaching of the most radical Communist doctrine. There is nothing wrong with Harvard that 15 bulldozers couldn't fix in about 3 days work.
Blacks in America have no complaints coming. They could be living in Nigeria, Rwanda, The Congo or the Sudan where they would be laying bloated in the streets and rivers having been murdered by some rival tribe . They could have had blood straight out of the cows neck for breakfast this morning or spend the day wearing a loin cloth sitting with their naked a*s in the sand making spears and arrows. They could be living in Somalia, Ethiopia or Zimbabwe where life is miserable and human rights are scoffed at by the Leaders and local War Lords. They could be back in Haiti where AIDS is an epidemic and grocery shelves are empty. They could be holding their children on their laps as they become more and more emaciated and flies live in masses in their eyes and mouths. Come on Jesse Jackson, come on Al Sharpton, do you really want to help Black people? Go to Africa and extort money from Mugabe or one of the other leaches that are sucking the blood out your people and your Continent or you could just stay here and shut up. Racism is not a product of the truth, it is abrasion caused by lies being told for Political and personal gain.
And we can all be deeply greatful that typical white people don't act like you, which is to say like a caricature of the spoiled, ignorant, trust-fund baby with a bottomless eagerness to suck up to "authentic" black people in their stuggle against The Man.
Wowzers! Have we met in real-time? You hit the nail on the head!
No, in all honesty, I wish I was a trust-fund baby. Oh wait, I am! Your tax dollars fund my lavish lifestyle! Woo hoo! Next time I go to the bar on your dime, I'll be sure suck down some dollar-beer in honor of you, John M. Keep making those payments and I'll keep railing against "The Man" and sucking up to "authentic black people".
My team is better than yours.
Well, I guess the ridiculous commentator on CNBC the other day who commented on Obama's speech by saying, "There was racism as soon as the person told the operator the men in question were black" is having to re-think his statement (which was absurd to begin with).
Both Prof. Gates and Mr. Obama are "Closet Racists" and their over- responses to what was essentially a non-issue clearly reveal their true colors (no pun intended)! No need for the President of the United States to get involved by making a denigrating pronouncement against the police before knowing all the facts ! Shame on you BamBam !