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Someday We'll All Be Free

I admire that President Obama has taken the high road and is trying to make peace between Officer Crowley and Professor Gates. What concerns me is whether he felt forced to do so by the firestorm of media coverage and the outrage of whites who felt that Professor Gates was playing the race card. To the extent that Professor Gates was playing any such card, in my opinion, he was probably playing the class card, refusing to be discriminated against based on race because he had the class clout to trump the officer's power. That Professor Gates has the ear of the President and is part of a vast network of African American elites that many whites don't know of might have been disconcerting to some.

But to watch the Leader of the Freakin' Free World "walking back" his "stupidly" comment when many like me in the African American community agreed with it? That was disconcerting to me, not because I think I'm right, but because I think the President has the right to say what he thinks like those who came before him. When was the last time you heard a President say anything approximating an apology for a political opinion?

I always thought that the President had the freedom and the right to say what he thinks, even if it's disagreeable to some, and to stand by his words merely because he is the Leader of the Freakin' Free World. Like President Bush, he could admit to no mistakes and the public would have to live with it. I thought it was the privilege of being POTUS.

Apparently President Obama isn't as free as we thought, nor does he enjoy the same privileges as President as did his predecessor. Or perhaps he simply chooses not to enjoy those same privileges of saying what he thinks, no matter what others think. I hope it's the latter. If he walked back his comments for the purpose of focusing on health care, cool. If he walked back his comments because they were displeasing to a large part of the populace, not cool. Officer Crowley did indeed act stupidly. Unless Professor Gates was a physical threat to him or others, there was no need to arrest him other than to make a point unrelated to public safety and welfare: I'm the one with power, you're not. That Officer Crowley was intransigent in his position afterwards was the exclamation mark over this point. He, as a public servant, should be held to the higher standard, not Professor Gates.

First, Judge Sonia Sotomayor has to sit there and take it during her confirmation hearings when some hick Senator told her she "had some 'splainin to do." Then the Leader of the Freakin' Free World walks back his comments about a cop on a power trip.

We ain't free yet, y'all. Don't get it twisted.

But, perhaps, in the words of a Donny Hathaway song, "Someday We'll All Be Free."

Just not this week.

Comments

s-man said…
As a white man, married to a black woman raising her's and other (black) men's kids, I'm heavily immersed in both worlds. I can easily see where you're coming from. But at the same time, you spend a lot of time identifying all the mitigating reasons for Gate's belligerent behavior and not a word about living in the shoes of a police officer who's life is on the line every shift, 12 hours a day. Why should he have to deal with that crap from Gates? In all the reports, Gates was hot from the get-go. Why the disrespect? Did the officer pull out his gun, handcuff Gates, pat him down and then ask for id? If Gates got the status, the connections, he's so intelligent, why does he act that way? What kind of example is he showing and what kind of message is he sending white people. Why is it presumed he's being discriminated against by having an officer step foot on his property? If it comes out that the officer drew his gun on Gates or something, well...ok, that's different. But simply showing up? I told you how I would have handled it as an officer. Too bad I wasn't there.
Gates can act any way he wants IN HIS OWN HOUSE. That's the point -- once he showed ID and established that he was lawfully in his own house, game over. The cop should have left. The originally reason for his being there evaporated.

Moreover, neither Gates nor any other black person has an obligation to send a message to white people or any other people. It amazes me how black people are supposed to endure racism or other injustices and not be outraged. We're supposed to always take the high road and suffer indignities with dignity. Well, it doesn't always work that way. The '60's are over, Dr. King is dead, and sometimes, we just get plain angry.

Just because a cop is in your house you have to act respectfully? I will say this yet again -- unless Gates posed a physical threat to the cop or other folks, Officer Crowley's business on Gates' property officially ended when Gates identified himself as the lawful resident of his property.

Too bad you weren't there. Perhaps you would have reminded Officer Crowley that having a bad attitude in one's own house is not illegal.
s man said…
Ok, fine, a man or woman can act any way he wants in his own house. I'm all for individual rights. Gates had a bad attitude but should not have been arrested for it, agreed. The reason why this is so interesting to me is that the hostility started before any racism. Or at least that's what I'm trying to understand. What was the line that was crossed by the officer? It seems that the presence alone of the police was enough to incite this man. But by any rational standard, a police officer, having not witnessed the original report, arrives on scene and has to deal with what is there when he/she gets there. (Its not like he stopped Gate's car, he was called there. It wasn't his choice to mess with that man, he was obligated to be there. I'm still trying to figure out what the officer did to set Gates off? Maybe every black person in the world understands but I don't and I want to. Would it be such a defeat, such a concession to just say, "Oh look, crackers called the police like they didn't know I lived here... ahem...Hi, thanks for coming so quickly. I am the resident of the house, here is my ID. My name is... See, I just got back from a long trip, I'm tired, and rather than call a locksmith... so you see, everything's fine. I've identified myself and that I live here, do you have any other concerns, if not then thanks for coming, I'm tired, please go about your business."?? Or is this what happened? Police are not very apt to show understanding for a person's situation. Its easy to recognize someone is tired and get the hell out of there, is that what the officer stubbornly refused to see? Or did Gates "just get plain angry."

If so, if that is the case, then I don't see how any progress can be made. We can just go back and forth, not as individuals, but members of a group, like tribal cultures from the beginning of time, modern-day Hatfields vs McCoys, angry over who-remembers-what, picking at each other forever.

Peace-love-& Rib-rub..
s said…
P.S. Ok, I'll await your response, and let you have the last word on this thread.
s said…
I'm just a soul whose intentions are good.

Oh lord, please don't let me be misunderstood.
s-man,

You're starting to grow on me! I appreciate that you are really trying to see things from a black man's point of view. And Professor Gates most certainly could have handled things better and there probably wouldn't have been a dust-up. I just don't think an arrest for disorderly conduct should be the penalty for acting out in one's own home. But I like that we're able to have a civil dialogue about this, even if we disagree. I think President Obama calls that "disagreeing without being disagreeable." He'd be proud of us.

What does the "s" stand for, anyway?

Oh, and you really got me with the '70's lyrics. My sister used to dig that song. Can't remember the artist, though. And I think it was a remake even in the '70's.

Here's to good intentions.
Anonymous said…
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/01/opinion/01herbert.html?_r=1
s-man said…
"You're starting to grow on me!"

Ha! Thats what I do!

"you are really trying to see things from a black man's point of view."

When you live with a strong black woman, she won't let it be otherwise.

s is just a name. its the first letter of my last name and I don't want someone googling me and then taking my remarks out of context.

The lyrics were from Nina Simone, recently sampled by Weezy. THe remake was made by "The Animals". Hey, I'm a white guy, with a bunch of black teenagers running around my house. I've into a little bit of everything.

Cheers!

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