If I Must…


I REALLY didn’t want to comment on the whole “Police acted stupidly” comment by Obama but my arm has been cyber-twisted.

At his Wednesday press conference, after being asked about the arrest of prominent black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., Obama voiced the following opinion:

Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof he was in own home.

The Republicans are, of course, up in arms with their usual histrionics, accusing Obama of playing the race card, hating police, or whatever it is their playbook states they should be doing. After all, you don’t want to stray from the talking points, do you? Then again, the Democrats typically claim he’s  being taken out of context or some similar argument. You can almost script what both sides are going to do before they do it.

My opinion? It was a dumb thing to say, especially when we don’t have all the facts about the case yet. In this case, the officer(s) probably should get the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, blacks have had a long history of ill treatment by some in the law enforcement community, so I can understand their skepticism about how the police may or may not have acted in this case.

One of my fellow bloggers, Porch Dog, summed it up nicely, in my opinion:

And while I think we need to extend our sympathy to our police officers, after all, police are humans too, I don’t think we should be ignoring the historical realities that make Gates the more sympathetic character in this tiny drama.

You can read more on this subject from Porch Dog, here and here.

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2 Responses

  1. I’ll be posting this on Monday (if I remember too) but group blog Crooked Timber got some really insightful commentary from an NYPD policeman on exactly why we should be extending some benefit of the doubt to the policeman up to and including the eventual arrest of Gates. Even with this thoughtful walkthrough of the situation he still says the arrest was probably wrong–possibly “stupid” but in the context of police discretion, reasonable.

    http://crookedtimber.org/2009/07/23/police-discretion-a-different-perspective/

  2. Good stuff…Thanks for the info.

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