Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Obama Panders to His Base, Plays the Race Card

Posted by Jim Walsh on Thursday, July 23, 2009

President Obama, admitting he doesn’t know all the facts of the case, nonetheless said Wednesday (7/22/09) that “the Cambridge [MA] police acted stupidly in arresting [black Harvard professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr.] when there was already proof that they were in their own home. There’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.”

To recap the story, Gates lost his keys and broke into his own home. A witness saw the incident and, thinking a burglary was in progress, called police. When police arrived, Gates refused to answer the door. Police claim Gates refused to show any identification, or identify himself to the police, and was ultimately arrested for disorderly conduct. Soon after the all too predictable hue and cry over the oppression of a black man by Cambridge Police, the charges were dropped. (They probably would have been dropped, anyway.) To his credit, the police sergeant accused of racism after he arrested Gates insisted Wednesday that he won’t apologize.

Let’s look at the incident from the police point of view. Having received a call of a burglary in progress, they discover a man inside who refuses to come to the door or identify himself. Had an actually burglary been in progress and had the police simply left the premises at that point, they would have rightly been accused of being derelict in their duty, and no doubt Gates and Obama would be chastising the police for their double-standard failure to protect black people’s homes. Instead, Gates chose to make a media event over a minor confrontation, and the PC media are ever so willing to oblige him. Obama, who insisted during the campaign that we would rise above racial divisions, nonetheless reverts to the reflexive call of racism, although there is no suggestion that the police acted contrary to standard procedure. Do you think that the police would have acted any differently if a white homeowner had responded the same way?

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One Response to “Obama Panders to His Base, Plays the Race Card”

  1. cynthia vaillancourt said

    Once it was established that there was not a burglary and the person in question was, in fact the relatively elderly (and diminutive) legitimate occupant – I not only doubt a white man would have been hauled off in hand cuffs and arrested … I would hope not.

    In fact, although I empathize with the police position during the “investigation” … and understand the risks involved in even the most seemingly innocuous situations – and do not fault or second guess the need to see identification, and even ask the gentleman to step outside in case there was a potential hostage situation brewing —- once the situation was clear the officer should have exercised the cooler heads and just left, perhaps filing a report and forwarding it to the Harvard housing office detailing any inappropriate or unseemly behavior by their tenant/employee.

    It is hard for me to see a good argument that after the situation was clear the continuation of the police action was anything other that a piddling contest where the officer flexed his armed, state sanctioned power over a citizen which did not advance any public safety or policy goal.

    The most effective law enforcement officers are the ones who can keep their cool and objectivity when others are impaired by their tempers.

    I do not believe this officer can honestly say he did that.

    cindy vaillancourt

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