Monday, July 27, 2009

President Obama; Community Activist in Chief

It seems America has a long way to go in getting to this new "post racial" era people keep talking about. I am not sure what exactly defines a post racial era, but it seems to surround the idea that we should treat people equally without regard to skin color or ethnicity. Okay, that sounds great. I believe I am already there, even without an ethnic studies degree. I take each person as I find them, and let their words, but more importantly their deeds, define them for me.

For someone who claims to be leading us into this post racial era, Barack Obama constantly surrounds himself with people for whom everything can be boiled to its purest ingredient, the color of one's skin. I understand that we all fall short of achieving true colorblindness, but could someone please let President Obama know that he should be leading by example?

The President spent twenty years attending Reverend Jeremiah Wright's church listening to the race baiting sermons coming from Wright's pulpit. As much as he tried to distance himself from Wright during the campaign, one this is clear, all those years listening to Wright helped shape Obama’s views on race. The one constant narrative coming from Wright and most others in Obama's circle of influence is this; when there is conflict between a black man and white person in a position of authority, the black man must be the victim and some type of racism taints the white man.

This inner narrative was never more evident when the President admitted that although he didn't have all the facts, he went on to tell the citizens of the United states that the "Cambridge police acted stupidly" when they arrested his friend and Harvard Professor, Henry Gates. Without knowing the facts, President Obama took up his new role as Community Activist in Chief, and passed judgment on an innocent police officer and police department.

This week, the President has tried to "walk back" the stupidly comment with all the slickness of a professional Chicago politician. "I want to make clear that in my choice of words, I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge police department and Sgt. Crowley specifically. And I could’ve calibrated those words differently."

Calibrated those words differently? Mr. President, you did malign the Cambridge police department and Sgt. Crowley, in front of a nationwide audience. Mr. President, you let your mask slip, you showed your true colors, and you won't admit your mistake.

The more facts come out, the worse Gates and the President look. The 911 tapes, the radio transcript, the statements from the other officers as well neighbors, all corroborate Sgt. Crowley's version of events. Henry Gates is an ethnic studies professor who sees nothing but race and racism is every interaction; that is his job. He took this narrative to its full conclusion by immediately insisting the white police officer must be racist, and this was just another case of racial profiling. So much for the post racial era.

The controversy could have been diffused the next morning if President Obama had stepped up to the microphone and said, looking back on my statement about the arrest of my friend Professor Gates by the Cambridge police, that was a stupid thing for me to say.

Being judged not by the color of our skin, but the content of our character, works both ways.

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