The story behind that meeting is by now old news. In brief: White cop arrested black Harvard professor (and Obama chum), Henry Louis Gates jr, professor accused cops of racism, Obama ended up stuck both feet in mouth.
How could that happen? As conservative writer Thomas Sowell put it:
The racial-profiling issue is a great vote-getter. And if it polarizes the society, that is a price that politicians are willing to pay in order to get votes. Academics who run black-studies departments, as Prof. Henry Louis Gates does, likewise have a vested interest in racial paranoia.And predictably, Gates is cashing in now on the publicity he triggered off by attributing his July 16 arrest to racism. He is, too, a frustrated elitist. The cops main misdoing was that they treated the professor like an ordinary man. Not like an ordinary BLACK man, mind you, but not with the reverence the professor thought he deserved. He was really lucky that a white cop happened to be the first one on the scene, which enabled him to play the race card.
For “community organizers” as well, racial resentments are a stock in trade. President Obama’s background as a community organizer has received far too little attention, though it should have been a high-alert warning that this was no post-racial figure.
What does a community organizer do? What he does not do is organize a community. What he organizes are the resentments and paranoia within a community, directing those feelings against other communities, from whom either benefits or revenge are to be gotten, using whatever rhetoric or tactics will accomplish that purpose.
To think that someone who has spent years promoting grievance and polarization was going to bring us all together as president is a triumph of wishful thinking over reality.
What is remarkable about that?
First, that it shouldn't take a man with a Ph.D. to know that mouthing off at police officers will dramatically increase one's chance of being arrested. Police officers have the moral and legal authority to use force to serve and protect. They may overstep or fail to exercise their authority, but the general idea is that they must be ready and willing to use force. That means that one should exercise one's best behaviour around them. Always. Gates obviously thought that he was above that.
For Obama, it wasn't quite that easy. After all, he is supposed to show some statesmanship. Therefore, it was remarkable that the Commander in Chief, whose job it is to choose the Attorney General to be the chief law enforcement officer in the United States, was instinctively not, as he ought to have been, on his default position to support the police. Instead, he was in automatic "Promoting Grievance and Polarization" mode, and this is probably the most remarkable bit about that whole sleazy story indeed!
Now the picture! It shows Sergeant Crowley politely helping the older and slightly handicapped Professor Gates down some steps. Both are wearing suits and ties, while the Commander in Chief, in his shirt sleeves, walks ahead, totally detached from the scene, when it ought have to been his, the host's, task to stay close to his guests and to help the professor, his guest and friend, on his way.
I'm sure there are already, and will soon be, many and more clever interpretations buzzing through the Internet, but to me it just seems that the Commander in Chief has simply no manners. One doesn't expect that from a man with such a gentlemanly posture, but, so it seems, it's not enough to look good in suits.
As for Professor Gates, I don't think I will see another poseur and arrogant prick QUITE that awful in a hurry -- when he hasn't been caught on the wrong foot and yelling abuse at police officers, that is.
I, for one, congratulate Sergeant Crowley on his professionality, discipline and restraint.