Friday, July 24, 2009

Was Obama's statement an open admission of Racial Prejudice?

When I was younger the term Prejudice, Bias and Racist were nearly interchangeable. You don't hear the terms bias and prejudice as much these days. I was listening very carefully to Barack Obama's remarks regarding the arrest of his close friend, Skip Gates and if it does not jump out as racist, or the remarks of a person with a hair trigger racial prism by which he views the world, then at the very least it is most definitely a text booked case of racial prejudice and racial bias.

Let's look at the Wikipedia definition of prejudice:
A prejudice is an implicitly held belief, often about a group of people. Race, economic class, gender or sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age and religion are other common subjects of prejudice. It can be used to characterize beliefs about other things as well, including "any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence."

I was always told that bias and prejudice, or "pre-judging", was a matter of "not having all the facts" about a specific person or event and applying your generally held beliefs about the skin color or group identity of the individuals involved and drawing rash leaps of logic about the events or individuals based on their group identity. An example would be calling someone "stupid" or saying they "acted stupidly" based not on the facts, but on your own recollection of perceived stereotypical outcomes when members of these groups interact. If one was to make such a leap to use such an insult like "stupid" in a personal, casual, or non-public event it could be considered hostile or even "fighting words", but when such perjoratives are used in a formal public event, it is not only considered a faux pas to exhibit racial prejudice in a campaign speech, for instance, but to call someone stupid from the podium of a Presidential Press conference, even if he were referring to Kim Jung Il would be considered a major break with Presidential decorum.

Let's imagine one of Obama's predecessors making these remarks, and let's go over the transcript and see where the prejudice is. Here is the question:

LYNN SWEET: Thank you, Mr. President. Recently, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested at his home in Cambridge. What does that incident say to you? And what does it say about race relations in America?

I remember when GHW Bush commented on the Rodney King beating video it created a buzz that the top law enforcement officer in our government would imply guilt before a fair trial had been given. Many pundits have pointed out that two of Obama's opening remarks about not having the facts and he is a friend of mine are usually followed with, "So, no comment". Not for this President. When a Massive Health Care Presser is clearly going to the toilet, fall back on ol' faithful, race baiting.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I -- I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here.
Not only is Skip his friend, he is one of Obama's friends that makes his salary and his celebrity status commenting on how black people are oppressed and at one point during the campaign Obama wanted and needed the support of this group, many of which questioned his "blackness", which sounded troubling and disturbing to many Americans. So Skip and Barack have a bond that Obama values for political reasons amongst other things.

I don't know all the facts. What's been reported, though, is that the guy forgot his keys, jimmied his way to get into the house; there was a report called into the police station that there might be a burglary taking place.
People should be concerned about their Neighbor's homes, regardless of their race right? ...and remember the home had been broken into recently, so the neighbors and police were on the ball here.

So far, so good, right? I mean, if I was trying to jigger into -- well, I guess this is my house now, so -- (laughter) -- it probably wouldn't happen.

(Chuckling.) But let's say my old house in Chicago -- (laughter) -- here I'd get shot. (Laughter.) But so far, so good. They're -- they're -- they're reporting. The police are doing what they should. There's a call. They go investigate. What happens?
This hasn't been addressed much, but I am thoroughly offended and disturbed each time Obama and the First lady joke about or discuss the different ways that our president might be killed. I consider it an exercise in self importance and drama that has been traditionally an off limits topic for all Presidents and why this one gets away with repeating this again and again is beyond me. It makes his security detail's job more difficult and puts our governments stability in danger.

My understanding is, at that point, Professor Gates is already in his house. The police officer comes in. I'm sure there's some exchange of words. But my understanding is -- is that Professor Gates then shows his ID to show that this is his house, and at that point he gets arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped.
We are soon going to hear the tape of this "exchange of words" the President is skipping over when the Cambridge Police release the tapes. He was not arrested immediately after providing Identification, he pursued the officer when the officer said he was leaving.

Now, I've -- I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. BUT I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry;
Every young white male is going to be questioned by a police officer at some point and most will, at least once, be accused falsely or at least treated with suspicion by a police officer, or told to cooperate or move along or whatever, at a time when you are minding your own business and not doing anything wrong. This has happned to me many times. Most young white males will witness a friend or other white male who talks back to the officer or is in some way uncooperative. This type of behavior nearly always has an unhappy ending for the youth, when the officer attempts to encourage compliance. Little kids know this stuff, this is not the type of material that needs to be in a university sylabus. Apparently Skip Gates has not experienced this reality in the mean streets of the Harvard Commons or at his home in Martha's Vineyard, but unlike the young white youth, he seems to think harrassing an officer who has rushed to his aid, is an opportunity to uncover some cosmic truth and that is that he is an oppressed victim struggling against a massive conspiracy to keep him trapped in his nightmare of being forced to live with million dollar salaries and luxurious homes and being forced to appear on regular television shows and awards dinners. I have never been angry at a police officer who approached my house for any reason and the few times I was frustrated or unhappy about receiving a ticket or being told what to do, I never openly expressed anger at the officer. I have no idea why the President is trying to have us "understand the rage".

...number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.

The President is either, as he admitted ignorant of the facts, in this case, what the actual charges are against Skip Gates, or he is intentionally trying to mislead the public to make his pal look good and the cops look bad. Let's remember, one of the few things Obama claims on his micro resume is that he is an Uber Attorney. Skip Gates was not charged with burglary. Obama knows that. When the officer was finally able to get Gates to interupt his lunatic ranting long enough to hand over his ID, which was a task the officer was required to do before leaving the scene, Crowley told Gates he was leaving. The burglary investigation was complete. The charge of disorderly conduct was based on Gates behavior before during and after the identification. Obama knows this. He is exhibiting bias by attempting to mislead and on Thursday when he refered to Gates age and his cane, he again was trying to mislead the public, by implying that disorderly conduct has an age limit or is limited to those that are capable of violently overwhelming an officer.

And number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcing disproportionately. That's just a fact.
If this so called fact, is "separate and apart" from this event which the President has admitted he is ill informed, then why bring it up. Why imply that this so called fact is relevent in this case, if you have no proof that it is. What if Bush said something like this. When Bush called Jose Padilla a "Bad Guy", the left accused him of profiling and worried that Hispanics would be targeted as terrorists. Latino Muslims complained of being targeted even though the number of Latino Muslims in America is believed to be only a few hundred.

What Obama is doing here is what he so often does. As Thomas Sowell points out, like a magician, Obama has a tendency to tell you he is not saying X or doing X, and then with his other hand and using different words he proceeds to do or say what he just claimed he was not doing. It is the equivelent of some old fart starting a story with, "Now, I'm not a racist or anything, BUT.....".

Obama is claiming Racial profiling is seperate and apart from the facts, but he in fact is including it as one the three facts that he claims "its fair to say" when characterizing the event. If we go back to the original "prejudice" of a person applying what they believe is a pattern in general about groups and making a leap of logic without knowing the specifics or the facts. Furthermore, Obama is intentionally trying to obscure the facts of the case. Then he follows up with his public legislative and legal works to address this apparent scourge of racial profiling.

As you know, Lynn, when I was in the state legislature in Illinois, we worked on a racial profiling bill because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and Hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in the society.

That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made. And yet the fact of the matter is, is that, you know, this still haunts us.
What haunts us? Having people falsely charged because of the color of their skin or their group identity? He is the top law enforcement officer and he is calling this man stupid, for following every conceivable procedure that he has been trained to follow. Gates has told the media that he was arrested by a "white" officer who couldn't handle a black man standing up for himself. Obama, by defending Gates "anger" and then droning on about us being haunted, is using his prejudice about white people and white police officers as well and saying they can be trained and trained and trained, they can be partnered with a hispanic officer and a black officer, and yet, if they come across a black man who is flipping his lid and yelling and screaming to the onlookers and refusing to cooperate, that somehow, because he is white, he STILL can not escape his inherent racism. This message is surprisingly similar to the rantings of friends of the Obamas like the Farakhans and Jeremiah Wrights when they refer to the "white devils". This is "pre-judging" Sgt. Crowley and attempting to destroy him and give him the Joe the Plumber treatment, for daring to get in the way of the King.

And even when there are honest misunderstandings, the fact that blacks and Hispanics are picked up more frequently, and often time for no cause, casts suspicion even when there is good cause. And that's why I think the more that we're working with local law enforcement to improve policing techniques so that we're eliminating potential bias, the safer everybody's going to be.
Interesting how he ends with "bias" as he started by admitting that he is "biased", albeit biased because Gates is his friend. I can't imagine what would happen if Bush commented about the arrest of a friend and called the officer stupid what would happen. Every Joe Wilson and Ray McGovern would claim that Bush is trying to retaliate against opponents to protect rich texas oilmen who want to destroy the universe. So He ends by claiming bias is a bad when others are guilty of it.

He goes on to say he has been a crusader against racial profiling and he is currently working to end the "haunting" so we can "improve policing techniques" with local law enforcement. So he is implying that had there been better training or policies in Cambridge. Gates would not have been arrested. Gates did nothing wrong? He was in his home watching America's Idol and the cops stormed in and dragged him away because he is a "black man in America"

I have to know, What policies could they adopt that might help? What have they not done? Where did the system break down? Officer Crowley has been awarded and congratulated by his African American superior who applauds his 10 years of training others in how not to racially profile. He was accompanied with a black cop and a hispanic cop, who apparently should also be experts in racial profiling. What else can they do? What other hoops should law enforcement jump through?

Is it possible that Gates was wrong? Is it possible for the first time in history a black man FALSELY ACCUSED a white person of racism. Is it possible when Gates threatened the officer and said, "You don't know who you are messing with", what he meant is, "I am a powerful race baiter that makes my living portraying white cops as devils and my best friend is the most powerful man in the world who also happens to be black, and if I pick up the phone, he will call you a stupid white cop and you will be destroyed"

Henry Louis Gates is the equivalent of Mel Gibson yelling at his arresters and saying "Do you know who I am, You dirty SOB!!". He is a self important celebrity who was tired and frustrated after a long trip and who has a racial chip on his shoulder.

It is interesting to view Obama's Sotomayor appointment under this context. In the Ricci case, white New Haven Firemen are assumed to be favored or possibly cheating if they score better than African Americans. Obama sees a ranting lunatic correctly arrested for disorderly conduct and he claims the cop is racist, cheating, poorly trained, and stupid, because he is white.

I think when you consider the nature of Obama's logic in his statement, what we witnessed was an American President stand up in a formal press conference and make open statements of Racial Prejudice, admit he is biased in a case where he attempts to demonize the officer which will definitely result in his being harrassed, and worse yet, he tries to use his demonstrated racial attack as an example why he is making America a better place.

I imagined we got past this behavior with the defeat of George Wallace. I never thought I would witness this type of misguided use of Presidential power in my lifetime.

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