Tuesday, August 11, 2009

President Obama Backs Down in Stand Against Racial Profiling and Invites Gates & Crowley to the White House



I have personally lost a great deal of respect for the President because of the clearly opportunist and cowardly manner in which he has responded to this incident. By inviting Gates and the police officer to the White House (both men have actually accepted the invitation!) all Obama has done is to ask these two people to "save his presidency" in the eyes of the millions of racists who despise him, Gates, black people in general and will continue to do so NO MATTER WHAT THE PRESIDENT DOES. Inviting these two individuals to the White House completely obscures and even attempts to obliterate the true meaning of what actually happened and gives the utterly false impression that racism and the blatant abuses of the criminal justice system is being addressed by the mere appearance of these two people coming to the White House and holding hands with Obama as the matchmaker. THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ADDRESSING THE SERIOUS ISSUE OF RACIAL PROFILING AND RACIST ABUSE OF AFRICAN AMERICANS. NOTHING WHATSOEVER. This is nothing but a publicity ploy on the part of Obama with the active complicity of Gates and the racist cop. It's nothing but a mere photo-op for the President and does NOTHING to address the very serious issues of racism in this society. I am personally ASHAMED of how Obama has "handled" this situation and it goes a long way to showing that Obama typically wants it both ways in a situation that in reality requires a completely independent point of view and sticking by and for principle. THIS IS NOT LEADERSHIP AND I'M NOT GOING TO PRETEND IT IS JUST BECAUSE WE'RE BOTH BLACK. It's COWARDICE plain and simple and it makes me cringe when I even think about how badly Obama has dealt with this situation. All he's done in fact is to send a clear signal to his and our enemies that he is a weakling who will back down under public pressure (especially on issues dealing with race and class) and that they can take further abusive license with him and us because they know that when push comes to shove Obama will fold like a tent and allow himself and his supporters--especially the black ones-- to be politically CHUMPED. It's a sad commentary on not only Obama but the larger society and culture who continue to act as though nothing important is being revealed in this incident and the thousands like it that happen every single day in this country.


July 25, 2009

Varied Opinions on Gates Controversy Light Up the Web

New York Times

The arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., the black Harvard scholar, for disorderly conduct in his home in Cambridge, Mass., by a white police officer, is fueling an often emotional dialogue on Web sites and blogs.

The encounter between the two men on the front porch of a Victorian home near the Harvard campus has resonated with columnists and ordinary people alike, all trying to make sense of what happened and what it says about race relations in the United States.

Many of the commentators identify themselves by race. Their remarks — raw, heartfelt, confused, and some perhaps offensive — are a remarkable snapshot of how people are viewing the same event through a racial lens.

A commentator on The New York Times’s Web site, who identified himself as Anthony E. Russell, wrote, “Black males hold the distinction of being the only group in America who are expected to be responsible full-blooded men and acquiescent boys, simultaneously.”

Mr. Russell added: “I also know that every man who shares my pigmentation or genotype is not a criminal. I would hope that this nation’s police would eventually come to the same conclusion, where appropriate.”

On Slate.com, a commenter named Ohio Granny wrote: “There is definitely racism in America. You can’t be friends with a black person because they are always black first and man/woman/American/christian/etc second. Professor Gates claims ‘they wouldn’t treat me like this if I were white’. See? How does he know that? It is the classic assumption that goes throught their heads all the time.”

The news of Mr. Gates’ arrest has become fodder for conversations all over the country. Even President Obama commented on the matter, in remarks that themselves drew fire, on the Internet and on television.

Keith N. Hampton, who studies social networking at the University of Pennsylvania, said that “information definitely travels more quickly as a result of the Internet, particularly as a result of new social media such as Twitter and Facebook.”

But Mr. Hampton, an assistant professor in the university’s Annenberg School for Communication, said the discussion might still have spread quickly without the Internet.

“While the Internet changes the expectation for how fast information travels, and how long it should take for people to respond to information, an issue as important and resonant as this would probably have garnished significant attention with or without the Internet,” he said.

Many of the comments on the Web came in response to columns on the topic that have been posted all week, on news sites, or Web sites with more left-leaning or right-leaning slants. As people expressed views on the event, readers were prompted to respond more quickly.

Mr. Hampton said, “There is a bit of a paradox in that the Internet allows us to access information faster, but the speed that information travels may change our expectation for how fast all the information should come forward.”

On Twitter, the social networking site, the arrest drew thousands of comments.

Someone who writes under the name TheRealAlSex wrote: “this whole henry louis gates jr arrest thing will probably start a race war.”

Another commenter, dwon8, wrote, “Henry Louis Gates asking a cop for his badge # is disorderly conduct, if u r black. thats lesson #4 in the hood. now u know.”

Some of the comments are full of pain and humiliation the writers say they suffered at the hands of the police, while others discuss whether there is racism in America.

“As a white person having been in the same situation once with the Chicago police I handled it much differently than Gates,” one commenter wrote to Slate.com. “I was appreciative of the police suspicion and action (what if I were breaking into someone’s home? I was immediately polite, obedient and aware of my every move (I did not want to get arrested or worse shot dead).”

He went on to say, “Perhaps the officer should not have arrested him, but Gates did not conduct himself properly either.”

On the right-leaning blog Reihl World View, one poster identified as notapundit wrote:

“The cops have walked right into the ‘racist trap’ that Obama helps set up by his premature bullying of a white cop (a black cop would never have come under such criticisms). No matter what the cops did, they’re racist.”

Another poster named Mrs. Peperium wrote:

“Obama stepped in it big time with this as many people voted for him hoping a black man in the White House would finally put to bed our racial problems.”

On The New York Times Web site, articles posted this week on the Gates arrest have drawn several thousand comments.

An article in The Times on Fridayby Susan Saulny and Robbie Brown focused on how people of ethnic backgrounds, especially black males, believe they have to operate under a different code of conduct in their encounters with law enforcement. The article drew hundreds of comments by the end of the day.

In the article, Al Vivian, a diversity consultant in Atlanta who is black, counseled that quiet politeness “is Rule No. 1 in surviving an incident of racial profiling.” He added: “So is the frequent use of the word ‘sir.’ ”

“That’s how you survive anything, not just racial profiling,” wrote one commenter, detroit dog of Detroit. “You learn to talk to your parents like that when you’re a kid; that’s how you survive to adulthood. What happened to Gates is a common reality for all people that make a bad situation worse. (And I’m a ‘minority’ and I hate that word.)”

The subject seemed to resonate with people, many of whom posted messages on blogs about having experienced similar encounters with police. Some people sympathized with Mr. Gates, saying the police acted wrongly, while others defended the officer, Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge, Mass., Police Department, saying that Mr. Gates should have been more respectful.

On Slate.com, many people commented on a column by Richard Thompson Ford.

“The baseless arrest of one of the nation’s most esteemed scholars is wrong and unfortunate, whether racism or simple abuse of authority is to blame,” Mr. Thompson wrote.

A commenter to Mr. Ford’s column, who describes himself as a white American man living in Brazil, sided with Mr. Gates, but admonished him:

“I’m sure you have been mistreated. But you are a privledged, elite man. Your anger should be directed at the people who hurt people with less power than you. It’s not about you. You are a professor, a scholar, a brilliant writer,” he said.

“You, me, a white guy, are the same, we proably will get off in a situation like yours,” he said. “Stand up, be a man, and realize that it’s not about you, it’s about all of us, the injustice of our entire socieity, and your getting off, as just as it is, is proof that the elite need not feer what the average joe or jane does. Wake up Mr. Gates, the lesson here is not quite what you think it is.”

President Obama addressed the matter again on Friday, saying he “could have calibrated” his words more carefully, after having said earlier in the week that the police “acted stupidly,” and then more commenters weighed in.

A commenter to The Washington Post named ravitchn wrote:

“O’Bama is smart enough to know he is in trouble. But he has gone too far in being black; we whites will never trust him again.”

Another commenter to the Post named “luca_20009” wrote:

“Like I said before, Gates is to the civil rights cause what Perez Hilton is to gay rights. Thanks for setting things back 10 years ... but at least you’re going to get a little PBS special out of it. Quisling.”

And there was also this comment in The Post, from “jlkreutzer”: “C’mon guys. The charges were dropped. That means they were not good charges to begin with.”

The same commenter went on to say: “I hope both protaganists have a reasonable discussion at the White House. We really do need to evolve and get along; this country has enough challenges”

On Facebook, Larry King Live’s fan page also drew comments on the Gates arrest.

“Darrell” told Mr. King’s fans this afternoon: “Obama commented on the situation and now Larry King says he’s stirring racial passions ... Larry, it’s the media like yourself who cause all this tension by sensationalizing it!”

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company