Our Racial Profiler-in-Chief


If my 3+ years as a police officer are at all representative, then to be a white police officer is to be repeatedly accused of being a racist. And to be an African American police officer is to be called an Uncle Tom.

The accusations are annoying, they’re wrong, they’re bigoted, and they make you angry, but you recognize that it comes with the territory. You buck up and do your job.

Now, I didn’t vote for Barack Obama. But I did recognize the historical value of his election.  It was a key reason many voted for him. It was a promise of finally arriving at post-racial America with the “racial healer” at the helm.

And now, in his first test of his “racial healer” bona fides, Barack Obama has failed. Miserably. He’s demonstrated that he, in fact, is a racial profiler. Despite admitting to not knowing the details, and to being biased in favor of his friend, Professor Gates, he said the police "acted stupidly." Talk about acting stupidly.

If Mr. Obama had to say something stupid, he should’ve stopped there, having gotten something quite stupid out of his system already. Instead, he validated –- at length -- Professor Gates’ claim that this was racist law enforcement behavior. Unbelievable.

There’s no need for me to reiterate the well-known facts of what happened with Gates and the Cambridge police. But what I tire of hearing is that there’s something meaningful about the fact that he was arrested for disorderly conduct inside his own home!

Yes, and?

There are all sorts of ways to act so stupidly that you get arrested for disorderly conduct in your own home. I’ve made that arrest before. The arrest that comes most quickly to mind is a Greek family with repeated calls for domestic violence between the father and teenage son. We arrived for another such call, tried to calm folks down, and were getting the facts from people (since it wasn’t clear that a crime had been committed). The noxious father kept raising a ruckus and making threats and was generally preventing us from being able to control the scene and investigate. Disobeying orders for probably the twentieth time, he finally made a dash for the kitchen and refused to come out. Keeping people out of the kitchen is a key part of controlling a scene (due to all the big knives). So, with him kicking and screaming and holding onto the door jamb, I arrested him for disorderly conduct. In his own home.

There also seems to be some sense among folks that it is somehow revealing that charges were dropped. Look, charges are dropped by district attorneys for all sorts of reasons, politics not the least among them. In no way does it mean that the person isn’t guilty.  Trust me … when my county quickly dropped DUI charges against a presidential cabinet member’s mother … it wasn’t because she wasn’t guilty.

But, speaking of guilt, let’s get back to the President. He’s made his judgment, without knowing the relevant details: the officer was white, and he arrested a well-regarded minority man who claims his innocence … what else is there to know? The officer must be a racist.

Sheesh, talk about racist!

Well, so much for “racial healer.” If we’re ever going to see this land finally rid of its racial divides, what we don’t need is assumptive agitation like we’ve seen from Professor Gates and President Obama, following all-too-familiar patterns of pointing fingers and claiming racial bigotry where it doesn’t exist. Yes, by all means, whites need to be sensitive to minorities. And, believe it or not, minorities need to give whites the benefit of the doubt.  Unless both show such Grace, we cannot reach the post-racial America we all desire.


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Actually it might have been nice if local officials had pointed out, quite properly, that it was none of the President's business. Local authorities have had a dangerous loss of their dignity in the last century. Rightfully a society should have a web of mutual checks and giving to much power to the Feds is dangerous. Unavoidable in the last century when there was a long series of massive wars. But it is less excuseable now. At the least local governments should make a point of their lawful perrogatives.
Jason, NAHHHHH! Just kidding. Yeah, that's a fair comment. I'll have to think about that one a bit. My main problem in all of this, as I've said from the get-go, is not the various opinions held by the players in this episode, but the fact that the President stated his, stated it publicly, stated it in on national television. That's the issue. I do - very much - think it is quite different for a Harvard professor, or a police officer, to voice their opinions publicly than for the President to do so on national television. That's my Big Point. That was the outrage. Not Gates' statements. That was to be possibly expected and certainly easily imagined. But a President enjoys many (MANY) perks and must give up certain freedoms in order to fulfill his duty responsibly. One of those freedoms is saying, in front of the world, whatever the heck is on your mind. Because words matter. For all of us. But the President's words matter 100-fold, whether they should or not. A President has an obligation to unite, not divide. But, last Wednesday night, he was wholly and painfully divisive. That's my complaint. // That said, your point still stands. Thanks for the comment.
Actually it looks to me suspiciously like everyone's looking after their own. Which is all very well for I have a great suspicion of those who would claim to love all mankind by demeaning natural affection(a pet peeve of mine). But as we are all looking after our own, and some of us, including unfortunately the President are guilty of the faults that come from the corruption of this instinct it would be the part of chivalry to recognize this fact. And thus recognize a little of ourselves in each other.
Benjamin, Actually, there is one thing I immediately wished - upon first seeing my post - that I'd done: add a "?" after "in chief" in the subject line. I'd intended to do that, but evidently left it off in haste. It's a tad harsher than I'd intended without the question mark.
Benjamin, Great comment. It's always a treat when you stop by for a visit. As for the first matter - do I modify my position/reaction based upon Obama's phone call, beer summit invite, and lament that he did not "calibrate" his comments differently. Well, an actual apology might've made a difference with me. Or at least an admission that he misspoke - or SOMEthing else - that would've at least indicated that he didn't believe what he said ... that would've mattered to me. He didn't do that. And here's the deal: Gibbs has admitted that they prepped for the question ahead of time, so that's Obama's honest perspective; it's what he believes. That he didn't anticipate the reaction says something about his tonedeafness on race in America. But what I'm getting at is that his initial statement - in front of a national audience - seems to reflect his true beliefs; in fact, he hasn't backed down from them a whit. His "kewl" follow up when the heat became too intense would seem to be far more likely to simply be a political response, and thus focused upon concerns over his own image rather than a reflection of his honest belief. PLUS, it puts Sgt. Crowley in a very awkward position. So it's, from that standpoint, far more shrewd than cool. From MY perspective. /// As for police, humanity and inerrancy, you make fine points here. And I mean that. It's true; police are certainly fallible. It's just that I haven't yet read a fact about the situation that clearly shows Crowley did anything wrong; while it seems quite clear that Gates did (morally if not legally). And it's interesting to consider what the two men teach. Crowley has taught a racial profiling course at the police academy for which the central point is: "profiling is wrong and ineffective; don't do it ... don't even come close". Gates teaches on the history of racial divides in America, for which I suspect the overall central point is: "African Americans have gone from inhumane slavery to Jim Crow discrimination to a modern situation with a quieter, more subverssive, bias inherent in most social institutions." Perhaps I'm wrong. But, if I'm right, who is most likely to enter that situation with a predisposed bias against the other? My money is on Gates. Big time.
Allen, I'm just curious if you're planning to qualify and/or modify your opinions of Mr. Obama with the updates in the story? I just thought it was pretty kewl that he took the relational and forward thinking steps he's taken. It's also interesting to me that you link fox news and the actual police report, but you don't link the story in Mr. Gates' words. Surely with two conflicting accounts of an incident, it's at least somewhat reasonable to imagine that if any sort of "objective truth" exists about the situation, it sits in a place that is at least willing to read all eyewitness accounts? Is it possible that both Gates *and* the police officers acted toward and spoke to each other in ways that were less than the best ways which each could have taken? I've experienced a police officer adding to/modifying the truth of a situation involving me. It sucked because their is a sort of assumption in a lot of places that police officers are somehow more to be trusted/listened to than non-police officers. As it turns out police are approximately as human, and prone to human foibles, as the rest of us =)
Allen wrote: "Lee, WHAT??? Hippies were PEACEful! Haven't you read your Time-Life series on the 60s?? Sheesh!" // Don't need to read about what I watched live on the news with Walter Cronkite, my friend. And hippies were peaceful until The Man tried to bust one for doing an act in public that should be done in private. My cousin's photograph and those of others on the force appeared in the student newspaper under the banner "Meet Your Campus Pigs". Later, the newspaper published his home address and invited students and others to meet his wife and kids while he was at work. Apparently that spirit of "all authority is bad authority unless it's *my* authority" lives on in the President and his friends. And I imagine if Mr. Gates's home is burgled in the future and the police are slow to respond or neighbors don't bother to call them in the first place, that'll be racism too. Where's a cop when you need one? Hey, he's busy thumbing through a procedural manual, and consulting with his attorney before he comes to help you - having learned his lesson from the last incident. God help us all.
"If that responsibility starts with anything, it starts with not being a bully to an American citizen." Well, he bullied Joe the Plumber, so I am not surprised he would do it again...
True. I didn't say it was appropriate. I said that it was easier to sympathize with even though inappropriate.
Jason, Yeah, they are friends and so, as Obama admitted before launching his attack, he is biased toward him. But the bully pulpit is a massive responsibility. If that responsibility starts with anything, it starts with not being a bully to an American citizen.
Actually one version I heard was that the householder was the President's friend. In which case it annoys the spirit of impartiality but it also is a human and reasonably understandable motive. It was foolish though, because such things are really not the President's business.
Now, an African American police officer who was there for Gates' arrest is confirming Crowley's story and supports the arrest 100%. Guess he must be profiling too, huh... http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-ap-us-harvard-scholar-arresting-officer,0,4731766.story CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — A black police officer who was at Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s home when the black Harvard scholar was arrested says he fully supports how his white fellow officer handled the situation. Sgt. Leon Lashley says Gates was probably tired and surprised when Sgt. James Crowley demanded identification from him as officers investigated a report of a burglary. Lashley says Gates' reaction to Crowley was "a little bit stranger than it should have been." Asked if Gates should have been arrested, Lashley said supported Crowley "100 percent."
GREAT piece by a current LAPD police officer: http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YjJiZGY2NmQzNjIzM2Q4YTM1YmNmYjRmNGY2ZGQwNzQ=
Lee, WHAT??? Hippies were PEACEful! Haven't you read your Time-Life series on the 60s?? Sheesh! /// Anne, Thanks for the note. And, yeah, he does owe Crowley and the nation an apology. But I don't think he has it in him. To wit, today's non-apology after his phone call to Crowley. Pretty poor. Takes a big man to admit he's wrong. I'd think that Obama voters were hoping they were hiring a big man. /// Voter, Thanks for the great comment. I hope you're wrong about Obama, but I've got a bad feeling... /// Stephen, I think you are being awfully generous to Gates' side of the story. Awfully generous. Crowley was investigating a suspected crime, at the request of a concerned neighbor. Once an officer arrives at a scene, they are responsible for the safety of all people at the scene, both encountered and possibly there. What I mean is, let's imagine someone else ... not Gates. Call him Gino. Gino is sixty-ish. Gino abuses his family. His wife boots him from the house and gets a restraining order. After some dark rumination, Gino gets a drinking buddy and goes to his family's home to inflict some pain. Neighbors, seeing two men breaking into the home, call police. A lone policeman arrives first at the scene. The man is beligerent, refuses to follow directions, curses the officer repeatedly and won't produce ID. Finally, he relents, and - whaddya know - his ID has the address on it. The officer turns on his heel and leaves. Once the officer's cruiser rounds the corner, Gino retrieves his old baseball bat from a closet and finds his wife. See what I mean? That officer had ALL the warning signs ... what an idiot ... it's his fault that Gino's wife was severely beaten ... and he probably didn't care because, you know, that was a purple family. And everyone knows, all cops are biased against purple people. See what I mean, Stephen? This is real life here, not academic, post-facto analysis of each step a law enforcement officer takes. Not that I can find a single mistake made by the officer anyhow. All standard procedure stuff. Lastly, sorry, but breaking into a home is NOT normal behavior. Okay? Nor is flying off the handle when asked for ID. So don't expect an ID-wave from a raving lunatic who refuses for some time to ID himself to turn PD on their heels. They respond to calls until they are convinced that no crime has been, or will imminently be, committed. Crowley did nothing wrong that I've seen. Would you say the same thing about Gates?
Other police chiefs, not all Barack Obama voters, are weighing in with the common sense observation that once a man has shown proper ID to show that this is, indeed, his home, the cops can go. Now, do the police have a very difficult job, one in which they have a right to expect respect, even in a touchy situation like this? Sure. But that doesn't mean that it's justified to haul the homeowner off to the police station. What would any of us be like in Gates' case? Maybe we wouldn't hurl race charges, but we'd probably be incredulous. The audio tape is going to have to show the American people that Gates was an absolute raving maniac, totally out of control, before most people will side with the police on this one. We still have a Bill of Rights in this country, and while the police have earned the right to be respected, so have the citizenry. Gates was not hugely cooperative at first, but he gave the police what they needed. The rest of the event is unnecessary drama, and many other police around the country are saying so.
Well, I wish that I could be surprised by this turn of events, but I can't be. President Obama made his feelings on the issue of race quite clear in his autobiography, when he wrote that we live in "a world where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where white folks' greed runs a world in need..." Creating and fanning racial tensions has been a hallmark of the President's political career... and if an innocent police officer and his entire police department have to be sacrificed to meet these ends, then so be it.
Allen: I'm outraged that the national press is going along with the fake story of racial profiling, probably out of fear that they themselves will be labeled racist if they don't. The cops didn't enter Gates' house because he was black and decide to arrest him; they entered his home out of a desire to protect his property--and then arrested Gates for disorderly conduct--not in his house, but on his front porch, where Gates followed them, continuing to shout abuse. I keep hearing commentators say that "anyone" would be angry in the situation Gates found himself in. Wrong: One of my neighbors drove by my house a few years ago and noticed that the front door was propped open and that two young men were standing on the porch holding a big piece of furniture. The minute she got home, she called me to to make sure everything was okay (It was--the young men were employees of a furniture company making a delivery.) If my neighbor had called the cops instead, I would have been GRATEFUL that she cared enough about my property to act to protect it, and I would have been APPRECIATIVE to responding police officers for making sure that I was the homeowner. President Obama's comments have revealed both his racism and lack of wisdom in commenting on a matter of which he acknowledged he didn't have the full details. Gates owes the Cambridge police an apology. Obama owes one to the entire nation.
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