Race and Stupidity
Our Readers Who Comment are having an unusually strong and pointed conversation this morning about President Obama's press conference remark that Cambridge, Mass., police "acted stupidly" in the arrest last week of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.
The conversation contains specifically racist remarks and rejoinders along with expressions of hope that we as a nation may actually be figuring out how to remove this millstone from our necks. There is both praise and condemnation for police and how some of them behave. Several readers worry that Obama damaged his push for health care reform in a news conference clearly designed to pump up support for it. And a number chide him for taking this on because, as he himself said, "Now, I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played."
I am excerpting from some comments I would not normally use. I have defended the Post's policy of permitting anonymous comments on the grounds they make it possible to rip away the facades that we often employ in discussing race and other difficult issues. As for the Gates incident itself, I call your attention to Wil Haygood's outstanding essay Wednesday. Make sure you read it to the end.
We'll start with Killoranz who said, "I voted for Obama etc. but the President made a mistake tonight in his comments about Professor Gates. This is a case of a Harvard professor's bruised ego, not a civil right violation. I hope Obama's remark doesn't distract from the need for serious health care reform."
But mavisdarling disagreed. "No, the president did NOT make a mistake, he spoke honestly... I am just loving it that it happened to a friend of the President. (Not loving it that it happened, just the coincidence of it all.) I'll bet that cop will think twice before he does something like THAT again!...You know, we HAVE come a long way in this country."
teresaPaloAlto said, "I am surprised at and disappointed with President Obama. The fact that he would state such a disrespectful generality about the Cambridge police without knowing the full set of facts, is concerning... His opinion benefits a personal friend, and is flagrantly divisive at a time when other issues are on the table, i.s. health care. I voted for Obama, campaigned for Obama, but am now perplexed at his leadership..."
msg8568 wrote, "He wasn't there, he doesn't know all the facts, and yet he accuses the police of acting "stupidly".. What a jerk!...He's almost as big as jerk as the racist Gates!....If we could get him to pay more attention to frivilous events like this, and stay out of trying to run the country, maybe he wouldn't have as much time to ruin America, as he's beginning to do."
jjedif replied, "The jerk is you. You weren't there either and yet you defend the police for arresting a black man inside his own house for doing nothing criminal or suspicious. Pathetic, ignorant, backwoods racist and communist."
lwps asked, "How stupid is it to arrest someone for breaking into his own house? The fact is that today he lucky he didn't get shot to death."
harkish said, "Seems we have a stupidity party at the Gates house in Cambridge. First, the Prof's stupidity, for getting angry at cops responding to a possible break-in... Second, the police. The prof loses it, perhaps sensitized to pasts profiling injustices, and gets in their face. So walk away - the guy is on his property, perhaps a pompous blowhard, but his raising his voice to police is no reason for his arrest. Get in your car and have a coffee and a donut. And this non-news item never happens."
TAH1 wrote, "...Obama made a mistake by unfairly attacking the police department in Cambridge. It's an ongoing investigation and Obama should have remained silent... Obama demeans the Presidency of the United States when he acts inappropriately. Obama really needs coaching on how to act Presidential and what is proper protocol and what is not."
skraemer1 asked, "Why is it when a white cop makes a questionable arrest of an African American, it is automaticcaly racial profiling? Cops make questionable arrests of white people all the time... I don't know enough about it to have an opinion one way or the other, but before this Harvard professor and our President started calling him a racist, they might look into Officer Crowley's background."
ladymaya wrote, "The right wing on Fox will dine out on this for a long time but he spoke the truth. Police have a lot of power and instead of arresting the Professor the cop could have diffused the situation and calmed him down and that would been the end of it...Plenty of cops in my town are discourteous to citizens and we can't arrest them."
An extended exchange began when nlb1954 wrote, "...I am a 55 year old white man.in that 55 years all i have ever heard from your people is,we were slaves what are you going to do for me.i need more welfare and when you dont get what you want you sue because you are black and are intittled to all the freebies you can get..."
To which ChrisStewart replied, "This comment is inflamatory. I hope the post deletes it. With statements like this, you sir disgust me. You are a testament to everything wrong with race relations in America. I honestly hate you."
And nlb1954 responded, "well chris stewart.so you hate me ,so be it i really could not care less,but it is because it is true and you know it.if you are not black then you are just plain stupid,everything i have said is true and all americans (true americans) know it is..."
Then nlb1954 wrote, "Mr. Stewart,i dont hate you either,but i just stated the things i have seen with my own eyes,sorry it bothered you but it was intended to get people to do the proper things in life if they want to succede as they want.color is not a barrier it is an excuse to not do what is right..."
And ChrisStewart said, "... As a person that is African American and doesn't know anyone that exhibits the traits you described, I honestly can't relate to anything you have said. If you truly haven't had any good experiences with minorities, I am sorry. If the fact that we are all Americans, fighting under the same flag, shedding the same blood doesn't inspire to learn about other people, then I am sorry for that too... God bless. And may your heart be opened to reasonable and thoughtful debate about the issues involved."
jdonner2 wrote, ""What I think we know, separate and apart from this incident, is that there's a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact." It is not disportionate to the amount of crime they comit."
We'll close with mercurial51, who said, "I'm surprised at all these bigots, so valiant and noble to be so truthful in a faceless forum. Yes, there are very poor race relations in the United States. But THIS man's indignity is one we could all suffer. If you are unaware of his intelligence, his contributions, of his relevance, then you are living a stunted life and deserve to remain in the dark."
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