While I’m no fan, I have to give President Obama some credit. He fought giving the appearance of wanting to be the first African-American president as long as he could. He fought it at times I thought he shouldn’t, namely his nomination speech on the 45th anniversary of MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. That’s discipline, a real and important skill which I put at the top of his attributes which most impress me.
But the temptation in the form of the arrest of an Ivy-league college employed, African-American intellectual in his own home was borderline unfair. It’s like making 365 gambling-free days while working at an online-betting service, a condition of Pete Rose’s return to MLB.
I actually agree that it is messed up that someone could end up being arrested in their own home. But the particulars of the arrest itself does not interest me as much as the politics involved. In fact, the details of the incident are so delicious, I briefly worried that I actually brought about the incident through some bizarre form of telekinesis. Only when I was able to confirm that the person who accompanied Gates that evening wasn’t Cornell West, was I sure that the event occurred on its own and not some wacked-out, Billy Mumy inspired, Twilight Zone-ish contrivance of my imagination.
You see Henry Louis Gates Jr. is not just any African-American intellectual from any Ivy-league school. No he is the most prestigious African-American scholar from Harvard. This from his Wikipedia page:
As a literary theorist and critic, Gates has combined literary techniques of deconstruction with native African literary traditions; he draws on structuralism, post-structuralism, and semiotics to textual analysis and matters of identity politics. As a black intellectual and public figure, Gates has been an outspoken critic of the Eurocentric literary canon. He has insisted that black literature must be evaluated by the aesthetic criteria of its culture of origin, not criteria imported from Western or European cultural traditions that express a “tone deafness to the black cultural voice” and result in “intellectual racism.”
The underlined stuff basically means that he reserves himself the right to give anything whatever meaning he prefers and if you disagree, … well, y’know. In short, he is an expert in all things ‘victim.’ The odds that Mr Gates would had seen anything but racism in the actions of the police were non-existent.
And who was the arresting police officer? Before we answer that, put yourself in the shoes [sandals?] of every non-God-fearing liberal you know. ‘Please, please, [insert a spiritual, but non-religious symbol], let him be a racist. Let him make Theophilus Eugene “Bull” Connor look like a Black Panther sympathizer.’
That the arresting officer appeared a reasonable sort in early interviews was bad enough. When it was revealed that he had spent the past five years teaching police cadets about how to avoid racial profiling, that was a vicious blow to their solar plexus. Think of the truly primal scream uttered by The Enemy at the conclusion of The Passion of The Christ, and you would be at about 60% of the disappointment level felt by liberals at that news.
Enter the president, stage left. This was one issue he would have no use for a teleprompter [he initially assumed]. In giving his thoughts, he would be in effect summarizing the conversation at every other dinner party he attended during his adult life. So spoketh President Obama:
… the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.
Obama, a few days later, his non-apology apology [hey wasn’t that Bush’s problem?]:
… I wanted to make clear that in my choice of words, I think, I unfortunately, I think, gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sergeant Crowley specifically,” Mr. Obama said. “And I could have calibrated those words differently.
But we still have not gotten to my favorite part of the incident. Obama further calibrates through his ‘people’:
Mr. Obama called his senior adviser, David Axelrod. “I’m going to call Sergeant Crowley and then I think I ought to step into the press room and address it,” Mr. Axelrod said he said.
In other words, his senior adviser wants us to believe that the president didn’t call his senior adviser for advice, but merely to inform him of what he was about to do. [Note to Editor: Let’s hold off on that Axelrod genius piece.]
Because you know, the president wouldn’t want to give the impression that he finds himself under the biggest microscope in the world with the least amount of executive experience than all his predecessors. All in an impossible job whose potential for achievement is front-loaded. In other words, his best opportunity for achieving his goals comes at the time when he is least prepared. To paraphrase Leon Wieseltier:
… the learning curve of an American president is the insult that history adds to their injury.
Excellent post, Jorge. I had to chuckle at your “60% disappointment level remark”.