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Jul 23

Written by: Diana West
Thursday, July 23, 2009 4:36 AM 

Photo: Harvard's Skip Gates -- busted for showing i.d.?

Afghanistan, Russia, trillions in deficit, trillions in budget, the economy, unemployment,  North Korea, California's bankruptcy, oil dependency on cartel of jihad, Hamas, a US soldier captured by the Taliban ... and the 44th President of the United States ignorantly and divisely inserts himself front and center into a local Boston police matter in which no charges stand.

It happened in the last question (as recorded in the  transcript) of the Obama press conference last night:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Recently, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested at his home in Cambridge. What does that incident say to you? And what does it say about race relations in America?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I -- I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here.

I don't know all the facts. What's been reported, though, is that the guy forgot his keys, jimmied his way to get into the house; there was a report called into the police station that there might be a burglary taking place.

That's not all that's been reported: Here, via View from the Right, is the police report.

So far, so good, right? I mean, if I was trying to jigger into -- well, I guess this is my house now, so -- (laughter) -- it probably wouldn't happen.

(Chuckling.) But let's say my old house in Chicago -- (laughter) -- here I'd get shot. (Laughter.)

Such flipness, such lightness ...  is this Open Mike Night at the White House? I doubt the Secret Service was laughing.

But so far, so good. They're -- they're -- they're reporting. The police are doing what they should. There's a call. They go investigate. What happens?

My understanding is, at that point, Professor Gates is already in his house. The police officer comes in. I'm sure there's some exchange of words. But my understanding is -- is that Professor Gates then shows his ID to show that this is his house, and at that point he gets arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped.

We interupt this overall-unseemly presidential narrative to indicate the gross unlikelihood of any policeman making an arrest for "disorderly conduct" after a citizen produces i.d. "to show that this is his house." Back to 44: 

Now, I've -- I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry;

Really? (See True Story below.)

number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.

I'm sorry: It is the president who is "acting stupidly" in commenting on a local police matter, and particularly after having admitted he doesn't know all the facts -- although it would seem that he doesn't care to know all the facts. As for "race"? Please. Please. Give us a break. The only role "race" appears to have played in this story is the role that Professor Gates and now President Obama have created for it.

True Story: One day, some years ago, I returned from the grocery store, babes in tow, and unknowingly set off the house burglar alarm, which summoned the police. When I answered the door, chagrined, and spoke to the police, I assured them all was well; that I was the resident hausfrau, that these were my kids, and here were the groceries ... not good enough. The officers insisted on seeing picture i.d. with my address. I quickly understood this was an appropriate and professional safeguard and was not, as the president says, "pretty angry" at all.

End of story? Hmm. I know I then complied. Was I then promptly arrested for disorderly conduct after producing i.d.? Did I then run out of the house, shouting, "This is what happens to white housewives in America!" I forget. Oh well. That's probably because I didn't go to Harvard.

Back to 44:

And number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcing disproportionately. That's just a fact.

And committing crimes disproportionately. That's just a fact, too. Not that this subject has anything to do with the suspected breaking-and-entering call the police were responding to. Nothing.

As you know, Lynn, when I was in the state legislature in Illinois, we worked on a racial profiling bill because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and Hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in the society.

That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made. And yet the fact of the matter is, is that, you know, this still haunts us.

And even when there are honest misunderstandings, the fact that blacks and Hispanics are picked up more frequently, and oftentime for no cause, casts suspicion even when there is good cause. And that's why I think the more that we're working with local law enforcement to improve policing techniques so that we're eliminating potential bias, the safer everybody's going to be.

Officer Crowley says he has nothing to apologize for. I'm afraid the same cannot be said for either Professor Gates or, now, President Obama.

 

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