Saturday, July 25, 2009

Obama gets flak from Cambridge Police; but he holds his own

Obama as a student at Harvard in Cambridge,  MA:  He learned his Civil Rights lessons well. 


Should Obama be sorry that he believed the actions of the Cambridge police were directed by racial considerations in the case of Professor Gates ?    I think not.  Whether they were or not,  it was not an unreasonable conclusion to come to.   (I recall when I was a college student and working part time at a Fotomat booth,   a supervisor yelling at me because when he had driven by,  I had been "talking with a black guy". The insinuation was clear:  I had been doing something sleazy.   This black guy was a neighbor, and a PhD candidate at New York University.  We had been discussing literature.  These stereotypes die hard,  and racial profiling is a fact in law enforcement. )

The best part about Barack Obama ,  though,  is he is that he is so shrewdly,  so  wonderfully  passive-aggressive where it matters most.  He knows how to "play"  these things:  A bit of dumb show,  a little,  "Oh,  gee,  I did not mean anything by that. . . Who,  me?  No,  you misunderstood;  oh gee,  maybe we can all have a beer. ".  But he does not apologize.  He does not back down.  His stance is not defensive;  it is robustly offensive.  And his little display of bashful and boyish confusion is seen easily by the discerning for just what it is:  A mask,  behind which his real and considerable  righteousness plays its shrewd and swift role.


Yes,  we all know that African-Americans should not be "grievance collectors",  any more than should women or gays.  But subtle bigotry and chauvinism  -  and I have encountered it myself,  many a time, and the more subtle, the more insidious  -  is widespread:  Its roots are deep, and its weeds  may still rise  to choke the harvest with any slight alteration in political or economic circumstances.  Vigilance is not foolish.  And I do not agree with those that say Gates and Obama "made the wrong call".  I think President Obama,  with his usual sharpness and panache,  knew just what he was doing and saying,  and why.  But then,  he always gets it exactly right,  all the way.

1 comment:

Monkey Man said...

It is bad to arrest an old man in his own home for venting at some pig overreacting. Obama spoke from his heart while forgetting America is a police State.
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