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Obama Gets It Wrong About Cops and Race

Is it possible Barack Obama is using the whole Gates “stupid” remark to take some heat off his floundering health care ambitions? Or is this simply a “teachable moment?”

My suspicions were further aroused when he came out, at a specific time on a Friday afternoon at a White House press briefing, to discuss the matter. Neil Cavuto thinks the “stupid” remark is helping to derail health care, but could it be the other way around? The media and punditry discussion over the “stupid” remark is taking health care reform off the front page. Is that good or bad? If we were dealing with the Clinton Administration, I would think my theory is correct. That said:

Barack Obama managed to get it all wrong when it comes to cops and race. There are good cops and bad cops. The problem is Barack Obama appears to view the world through a black and white lens instead of eyes wide open.

For about a five year period I had a stalker. At least once a month, this guy would stand outside my bedroom windows and smoke. There was no more welcome sight than the flashing blue light of the local sheriff’s deputy as he would pull into the yard and try (once again) to figure out who this person was.

In cases like this cops have the habit of not taking the victim seriously, instead, basically accusing the victim, almost always a woman, of being a little bit “off”. This never happened to me. I kept a record of everything, to the point that our local sheriff actually made an appointment and came out to visit, discussing my options. Never once was I treated without total and complete respect.

It may have helped that at the time I was the owner of a very popular local gallery. My connections to the community went back nearly forty years. I was also the chairman of our local county GOP executive committee. I would like to think status had nothing to do with the excellent protection I received.

Oh, the option that worked? I moved clear across the country.

I left South Carolina with an excellent feeling about law enforcement. Cops were good, helpful individuals who had the best interests of the community at heart. This view of law enforcement was further enhanced by the local police department where I now live. They are the second-highest paid cops in New Mexico, which has something to do with the quality of law enforcement we have locally.

Contrast that with the community next to us. They have one of the lowest pay scales in the state, and some very incompetent cops who have (or have had) a penchant for harassing local high school students.

During the few years I worked with local teens, my view of law enforcement officials began to change. The addicted sister of one of the girls who would infrequently attend the youth group I led at church was roughed up by those same cops, to the point where her story appeared on one of the national evening news magazine. There were, and still are, rumors of several million dollars of liability suits pending.

Imagine my shock and dismay when I ran afoul of police harassment. I am Republican, Episcopalian, Caucasian. I fit all the “right” status groups. White women don’t get harassed by white cops, do they? If you’ve been listening to Barack Obama, only African Americans are harassed by cops; by white cops. This is where I think Barack Obama is so very, very wrong. There are bad cops of every race, theology and ideology. Some of them are racist; others are just plain bad. The one who harassed me was just plain bad.

About SJ Reidhead

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Dread,

    She simply forgot. As a matter of fact I am told the responding officer said, ok the car wasn’t stolen, it was misplaced. Never towed. Plates never run. Officer see sticker, officer drive by.

  • http://www.thecobraslair.com Cobra

    Clavos writes:

    “Well, you see, Cobra, if I were ever to serve on a jury, I would consider the evidence actually presented during the trial, and make my decision accordingly, which is exactly what I’m doing in this discussion: trying to decide by what has been presented.”

    No, you actually made this statement:

    “Personally, I would believe the word of a trained observer such as Sgt. Crowley over that of a bystander such as Whalen.”

    If you don’t take the word of a bystander over a Cop, I double-darn sure doubt you’d take the word of the person the cop arrested, beat up, or shot either.

    Sure, it’s possible that you might…but that’s NOT what you’ve posted here.

    In fact, I’ve yet to hear any audio evidence that supports Crowley’s account of what Professor Gates allegedly said that amounts to “disorderly conduct” or “tumultuos behavior.” If you could provide me with a link to one, I’ll gladly listen.

    Right now, again…it’s just Crowley’s word.

    –Cobra

  • Clavos

    There’s virtually no contradiction in my two statements, Cobra.

    The Whalen woman is an unknown entity, with no evidence to back up her version of events after the 911 call. Further, she’s basically a bystander, and any trained investigator can tell you that eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable.

    The Sergeant, on the other hand, can point to his sworn, written, official record of the events as he saw them, and he has character witnesses who testify both as to his character and his veracity. If this were an actual trial, and if no further evidence were presented than what we’ve discussed here, under the law, a jury would have no choice but to decide for Sgt. Crowley, which is exactly what I did.

    In fact, I’ve yet to hear any audio evidence that supports Crowley’s account of what Professor Gates allegedly said that amounts to “disorderly conduct” or “tumultuos behavior.” If you could provide me with a link to one, I’ll gladly listen.

    As far as I’ve heard, no such recording exists, but the backup officers called to the scene, one of whom is black, support Crowley’s allegations.

  • http://www.thecobraslair.com Cobra

    Clavos writes:

    “The Sergeant, on the other hand, can point to his sworn, written, official record of the events as he saw them, and he has character witnesses who testify both as to his character and his veracity. If this were an actual trial, and if no further evidence were presented than what we’ve discussed here, under the law, a jury would have no choice but to decide for Sgt. Crowley, which is exactly what I did.”

    The “evidence” presented of “disorderly conduct” and “tumultuous behavior”, absent audio or video evidence is “he said-he said”. You’re relying totally on the words of Sgt. Crowley, the White cop in question. I, for one, can’t afford to live MY life immersed in the divine, infallable, “I-can’t-imagine-White-Cops-could-act-in-a-discriminatory-way” fantasy.

    That OTHER cops who work with Crowley back up his story means absolutely NOTHING to ME, knowing the history of police/minority relationships in the history of America, and the Blue Wall of Silence that always seems to emerge whenever a controversial case about race happens.

    Because Sgt. Leon Lashley and Officer Kelly King, two Black officers on a predominantly White Cambridge PD were trotted out to the media as window-dressed race flacks means absolutely NOTHING to ME, either. “Go along to get along” is a neccessity for some minorities in predominantly White fields, especially when you have to rely on the same people you would be complaining about down the road.

    This is not meant to be an attack or slight against you, Clavos. You and I OBVIOUSLY come from different perspectives on this issue. But I can see from the perspective you’ve provided here, how easily White cops who brutalize, falsely arrest, taze, shoot or kill minorities unjustly can be set free by juries.

    –Cobra

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    See, Clavos, you’re not taking into consideration the fact that cops are evil and all they do is lie and oppress minorities. That’s why they exist. The PBA is a secret branch of the KKK. The truth is that no black man has ever committed a crime and every one who is in jail is innocent.

    Right, Cobra?

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Kind of over the top, Dave, even for you. I don’t believe anything Cobra had said suggested anything of the kind. So what’s the point?

  • Clavos

    Cobra,

    I was born and raised in Mexico. I am a Mexican citizen with dual citizenship, my second passport is American.

    If Prof. Gates were Prof. Garcia, I would still think the way I do, based on the evidence so far available.

    I don’t take offense at your POV, nor do I perceive it as an attack on me, I simply disagree with you.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    What evidence? Can you cite one report which accurately charts out the chain of events starting with the initial encounter and leading up to the arrest? What exactly had transpired behind closed doors, when Crawley was inside Gates’s apartment? Do we know? How belligerent was Gates with respect to Crawley to justify the arrest after proper identification was made? We don’t really know. And thus far, we have two contradictory accounts. Wasn’t Gates justified in his outrage? And how much outrage is necessary to warrant his arrest – no longer under the pretense of false identity?

    None of these questions have been sufficiently answered by the police reports. So before you accept those reports at face value, don’t you think they should at least alleviate some of those doubts? And what if Prof. Gates was Prof. Clavos?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    At comment #72 we read, Any communication with a foreign national who openly calls for the downfall of America might expose me to sanctions prescribed in the Patriot Act.

    At comment #83 we read I didn’t end all communication with Ruvy because he may or may not have problems with Blacks….

    This gentleman is cheering for America to FALL, just like the people we’re currently at war with. I don’t consort with individuals like that.

    The first comment is naked fear of the FBI, CIA and the like; the second comment is self-righteous patriotic snobbery.

    How many blacks have I heard scream, “burn baby, burn” about the city and country I once loved. But unlike Cobra, in his self-righteousness, I talked with them if the occasion required.

    It strikes me that Cobra has painted himself into an ugly corner between fawning fear and snooty snobbery.

    Truth: Do I really care if he wants to communicate with me or not?

    No.

    From his comments I’ve seen nothing I could gain from his perspective. He can boycott me all he wishes for whatever excuse he wants to cover his ego with. Obviously, he still does not know how to quote properly – only out of context. That is his problem, and it cripples his arguments, not mine.

    I’ll let him figure out what he has done to himself with his remarks on his own. And getting himself out of the nasty corner he has painted himself into is HIS cross to bear. And dragging crosses is heavy lumber, as I’ve pointed out earlier.

    I wish him luck….

  • Clavos

    And what if Prof. Gates was Prof. Clavos?

    Prof. Clavos would have done what he always does when confronted by police officers: treated them with respect, and cooperated with them.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Except perhaps that you may not have had the long history of suffering from police abuse and differential treatment that many blacks had had, Gates included.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Yeah you’re right roger…the cops never mess with hispanics in this country…WTF are you talking about Clav?

    The part that everyone seems to be missing here is that if Obama had said the right thing when asked, this never would have been the issue that it has become. He should have said, I don’t know enough about the situation, instead, he “acted stupidly”.

  • Clavos

    Except perhaps that you may not have had the long history of suffering from police abuse and differential treatment that many blacks had had, Gates included.

    I don’t.

    But, I’m also smart enough to see the stupidity of treating a man with a gun and the authority of the government behind him arrogantly, disrespectfully and uncooperatively.

    Regardless of your personal history or racial background, that’s just plain dumb.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    What? You mean it might have been Gates taht “acted stupidly”?

    Come on!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Clavos doesn’t exactly cut the figure of an average Hispanic, Andy. By his own admission, he looks more Anglo than I do.

    Sure, Andy, Gates may have acted dumb. But we do have the right to challenge what we may deem as abuse of authority, especially within our four walls.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Maybe we should just all gather at Dave’s for a beer and become BFF’s.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    There’s a right way to challenge authority and a wrong way.

    I suppose we’ll never really know what happened in that house…I’m sure some people completely believe one side or the other side…I believe it’s probably a little of both stories that actually makes up the whole truth…perception and all that…but I have a hard time believing that a cop that’s part of an anti profiling detail would profile and old black guy.

  • Irene Wagner

    “Which government?” Cobra? That’d be the government made up of crooks from the Democrat AND Republican parties who’ve been bought off by banks and corporations and used YOUR retirement money AND MINE to pay them back. That’d be the government which has been fomenting unrest in foreign countries for decades (on behalf of those same corporations) squandering our national treasure and chipping away at the U.S.’ good standing in the world.

    A government like this has the moral authority (and more importantly, the purity of intent) to give us “how to get along with others” lessons? The HYPOCRISY of the thieving media-government liason (the press used to be a watch-dog, not a lap-dog!), trying to stir up anger of blacks and whites toward one another (amplifying their cries of “banana-eater” and “racist cop!” starting “bridge-building conversations” like the MOST helpful one in which we’ve all been participating), redircting that anger away from where it should be directed right now… at ITSELF!

  • Irene Wagner

    We need to “get it together,” gays and straights, liberals and conservatives, Dems and Reps, blacks and whites. We have differences to work out AMONGST ourselves, but there’s so much we can do together. The Continental Congress 2009 may be a good start at a UNITED effort, the only kind that will do any good. It’ll at least do more good than bitching at one another like THIS will.

  • Irene Wagner

    That could happen, handyguy. Liberals are always up for a CHANGE right? OK, please don’t mistake the dearth of future answers to your comments on my comments as cowardice. I just have other stuff to do this week.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You are becoming radicalized, Irene. I don’t remember you expressing yourself this strongly. Is this a recent development?

    Andy, there are rogue cops, appearances notwithstanding. Besides, even a fairly balanced and emotionally stable person can exhibit “out of character” behavior in situations of stress. So the question we should be asking is: Was it out of character?

    I happen to think that Crowley is not such a goody two-shoes as everyone would like to believe – if only for the fact he allowed the situation to deteriorate to the point where he “felt forced” to proceed with the arrest. As an authority figure, he WAS in control, or at least should have been. But if your account of what transpired, or the account you’d like to believe, is to have any credence, Gates’s behavior must have verged on the criminal, as though of a thug. Now, that’s what I find hard to believe.

    Besides, Crowley should be sensitized to the kind of reaction that circumstances of this kind were bound to evoke – if he was trained in the anti-profiling program.

    I don’t know what else to say.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    #120,

    Ain’t gonna happen. We’ve lost the sense of togetherness and national commonality. Material values rule, and “every man for himself” has become the overriding philosophy of Everyman.

    What I see, we’re going to hit rock bottom before we can resurface. Only then can we experience a re-birth, out of the Dark Ages.

  • Clavos

    You’ve now got the preview window everyone whined about.

    Use it.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    DWB, Driving While Black, might lead to some things you can read about on these blogs I follow: Electrocuted While Black, Gangsters in Blue and there is a video story on Tasered While Black about police responding to a noise complaint at a Latino family’s children’s Baptism party and tasering the godfather and the pregnant mother in front of all the children.

  • Irene Wagner

    Cindy, want an eyeful? Look at what’s been happening to U.S. CHILDREN of all races. Any of these stories (white school kids tasered on a FIELD TRIP? With no criminal charges pressed? A six year old black child handcuffed?) could have generated more UNIFIED outrage than the Gates/Crowley one. Why weren’t THEIR stories top of the page in the national press for weeks, with the President of the USA smack dab in the middle of the controversy? Because blacks and whites would have been UNITED in their disgust against government abuses, that’s why.

    It’s not a Black vs. White thing. It’s a government against ALL of us thing. So far for the year 2009, the breakdown of the twenty taser-related deaths is: 10 black, 6 Caucasian, 3 Hispanic, 1 unknown. Blacks make up 6 percent of the population? That’s 6 percent of the population the WHITES need on their side when they confront the government about this AND OTHER ABUSES (see #118). That’s 94 percent of the population BLACKS need on their side when they confront the government.

    There are cops who are disgusted about it too. They need the UNITED voice of Americans raising a stink about this, and other abuses by an out-of-control government.

    Accusing one another of racism is fruitless. That’s all this media-government back-scratching fest has done, gotten us accusing one another of racism. Period. The government has taken pre-existing tensions and 1) made them worse 2)deflected what could have been UNITED protests against itself.

    Aren’t you getting tired of the endless and fruitless liberal-conservative debates? Don’t wait 12 hundred years for the Dark Ages to come and go again. Find common ground THIS YEAR! You might not agree with all the issues being addressed by the folks in Continental Congress 2009. Neither were those who worked at the first Continental Congress in 1774.

    Maybe you can make more of a difference there, with people who care about UNITING even in their diversity to confront the government, instead of sending insinuations of racism across the net to strangers.

  • Irene Wagner

    Cindy, I was addressing a generic “you” in the last para. Not Cindy specifically, as I was in the first.

  • Clavos

    Pretty interesting point in 126, Irene.

    I pretty much agree with you.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You’re calling for a spiritual revival, Irene. How do you suppose it’s going to come about? Out of ashes? You need new foundations, and there aren’t any.

  • Irene Wagner

    No spirituality required. Many are agnostics who are involved in this. One of the local leaders involved in the Continental Congress 2009 is BLACK, apparently undeterred by associating with “birthers.” Unless you’re talking about the spirituality of loving and cooperating with your fellow man, even if he is a “Samaritan”, there is no single organized religion that’s running the show here. The Constitution provides the common ground from which people will be working. (Clavos, thanks. One of these days, an article. When the time is right.)

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    I disagree, Roger. Not to sound hokey but I believe that there is a thirst among the masses for the fundamental meaning of life. What’s happened that in the last 100 years we have technologically advanced to a point where we’ve finally come to realize that the majority of what we’ve been taught is biased depending on environment. That doesn’t discount having faith — quite the contrary. We’re at a crossroads in the way we maintain our respective belief systems. As a result, I think you’ll see a major rise in philosophy and spirituality. For what it’s worth, I have complete faith in the existence of a Higher Being. I also believe that we all share the most basic elements of life and energy. In that sharing we all give and take energy from the Universe. Being trapped in these human shells is just a step in our progression which does lead to a higher level of understanding and wisdom. These are the fundamentals of most organized religions with the ultimate truths being revealed behind the editorial commentary. This generation is in the midst of questioning the faiths of their fathers. That bodes well for humanity if it is allowed to prosper.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That’s why I mean by “spiritual revival,” Silas and Irene. It’d surely be as great a departure from the operating American psyche as one could possibly hope for – something akin to a religious conversion or a catharsis.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And to expect that kind of sentiment to arise in the population of over 200 million – in the subject matter of politics? Give me a break! A Greek polis was a workable entity because it was comprised of mere 5000 of the brightest. And even under those most ideal of circumstances, the Athenian democracy failed.

    What you’re asking for, of a representative democracy, is the same kind of spirit. Well, I’d say than nothing short of “spiritual” movement – such as by Dali Lama or Rev. Moon, or even anti-Christ – in short, nothing other than mass hypnosis is gonna wake these people up. It’s too damn late. The USA, such as it has been and as we know it, had had it. It will go by the wayside such like the empires of old.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Sorry, Irene.

    I saw your comment on the other thread and I will abstain therefore from any negativism, especially since you seem to be personally involved. I have no right to dampen your enthusiasm, so forget those remarks.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Irene,

    Great post, Irene. The blog post was devastating. But, unfortunately, typical–if one is paying attention. The world is a much different than its reported to be.

    Police are practically immune from prosecution for blatant assaults, prosecutors are not interested in prosecuting police. Protesters are attacked with impunity. It is clear that govt is interested in preserving and extending its power and authority through militarization of police. That Gene Stephens’ attitude, scary as it is, seems typical.

    And in a society where power is symbolic with success and in a culture of power like the police where machismo is valued, you have those with the most personal inadequacies and something to prove drawn to positions where they can use power over others.

    Cindy, I was addressing a generic “you” in the last para.

    Gotcha! ;-)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Silas,

    I still mean to find that link I wanted to post you, but things got too busy today and it’s time for bed again.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “you have those with the most personal inadequacies and something to prove drawn to positions where they can use power over others.”

    Great point. A matter of ego-compensaztion. Any desire for power (or money) is megalomanical.

  • Irene Wagner

    Roger, you’ve just given me another opportunity to post a link to another slide show about Continental Convention 2009. It may not be “your cup of tea” but it’s something that is getting people involved in politics again at the LOCAL level. Then those who have built bridges there take it to the next level of government—the way change is supposed to take place. (It was sent to me by a woman who does not describe herself as Christian, by the way.)

    Thanks for reading #125 Cindy. I didn’t want to come back to blogcritics this week, but I just couldn’t hold my peace about the need to stop biting one another and start uniting with one another.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m all for it, Irene, on a personal level. But as I said, I’m not going to be negative. Anyways, I haven’t experienced this side of you before.

  • http://www.thecobraslair.com Cobra

    Irene Jacobs writes:

    “It’s not a Black vs. White thing. It’s a government against ALL of us thing. So far for the year 2009, the breakdown of the twenty taser-related deaths is: 10 black, 6 Caucasian, 3 Hispanic, 1 unknown. Blacks make up 6 percent of the population? That’s 6 percent of the population the WHITES need on their side when they confront the government about this AND OTHER ABUSES (see #118). That’s 94 percent of the population BLACKS need on their side when they confront the government.”

    You’re a little off on your percentages,(Blacks are 12% of the population) but that’s not what I have a problem with in this argument.

    We don’t have “kings” in America. Technically, our government is made OF “the people”, BY “the people” and FOR “the people”, from the local school board and city councilpeople, all the way up to the POTUS. How could “the people” allow such heinous behavior to continue?

    The answer is obvious. There’s a large enough segment of the American population that has absolutely no problem whatsoever with police abuse of power, or the violation of civil rights–especially when it comes to racial and ethnic groups they don’t belong to or identify with.

    The people who attended the first Continental Congress were committing TREASON, and were definitely a minority movement. Most American Colonists were loyal to King George III.

    –Cobra

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Irene Wagner, Cobra, BTW.

    And to add to the above reasoning, those groups who have no problem whatsoever with what others perceive as “abuse of police powers” is simply because they view the police as protecting their property, interests, and position in the society (precisely against the others they consider marginal and on the fringe).

    Why don’t you comment on some other political issues raised on BC? I think your voice would be welcome – at least to counter all those voices which proclaim the doom and gloom and the end of the Republic. Perhaps you can bring a fresh perspective into the discussion. I, for one, would be interested in your vision of future America.