Third- The President's comments were unhelpful but
correct. Arresting someone in his own home even though he has committed no
crime is stupid. Clearly it’s stupid. In the US today though, there is very
little effort to find the right answer in public discourse. Instead the thrust
is to find the angle that helps you gain the most. So instead of asking if the
President were correct, most of the attention has focused on his word choice.
Fourth- The police organizations that united
yesterday to loudly complain (basically) that the President has turned his back
on law enforcement looked silly. Calling a stupid arrest stupid should hardly
have broader implications even if you’re the President. Gaining attention,
money and public sympathy was all these groups could have hoped to achieve. There
was no public safety agenda here. The focus was on the word ‘stupidly’ not
thoughtful policing or constructive resolution. Sargeant Crowley seemed stunned
by the whole thing almost as though he were strapped to the lead car of a
roller coaster. I hope he gets more than one beer when he meets with President
Obama and Professor Gates, he's gonna need it.
Finally, do any of us think that this situation will
keep me from getting the 'random' extra security check at the airport? (Yes, my
beard is close to maximum length right now; it's been a challenging summer.)
Will there be fewer groups planning to assassinate President Obama? Will Black
suspects be kinder and gentler to police officers? Will there be a surge in
support for affirmative action? Will there even be a wave of police departments
across the country creating diversity or sensitivity training programs?
I doubt any long-term positives will happen as a
result of this incident. If there be any, I think they will come out of Skip
Gates’ new recognition that his race still counts more than it should. He may
begin to step away from his post-racial analysis a bit and I think that could
be constructive for his work. (Here’s an excellent read on just how post-racial
Gates has been.)
No, this seems to me like another media frenzy such as Joe
the Plumber. Lots of sound and fury signifying nothing. See, I knew I’d have to
say a lot. A lot about a little.