Saturday, August 15, 2009

Reflections on the White House Beer Blast

I know it was weeks ago, and hence constitutes ancient history in the news and blog cycles, but I’ve been out of it for a few weeks.

President Obama dropped the mask twice at his July 22 news conference when he stated “the Cambridge Police acted stupidly,” after saying he didn’t have all the facts.

The first mask he dropped was that of a post-racial President. We are not a post-racial society; no ethnically diverse society is, but he ran as a post racial candidate, recognizing that America would not elect a flame throwing black radical, Reverend Jackson, or Reverend Sharpton to the White House.

By dropping the mask, white America now knows why he listened to the racial fulminations of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright for 20 years; he shares them.

America sided with the police officer, Sgt. Crowley, in the dispute. Americans usually side with police officers, which is why obtaining convictions for police misconduct, even when caught on video, is so difficult.

President Obama’s statement from his heart may be electorally fatal in 2012.

The second mask he dropped was that of always been cool and composed under the circumstances; he let his black rage out.

Having said that, African Americans have every historical right to be paranoid about police and police brutality; the history of white police/black citizen interaction has often been accompanied by egregious police misconduct.

The history of race relations in Boston over the past 50 years is one of racism, but Cambridge is not Boston (Cambridge has a female, African American Mayor, E. Denise Simmon).

Not every white police officer/black citizen confrontation is racially based.

President Obama sought a mulligan in the form of a “teachable moment” as his way out of the political maelstrom he created.

What is “teachable” about the beer blast on July 30? Are we telling our high school and college students it’s OK to drink beer to solve our problems?

What is “teachable” about a transparently staged event in which Sgt. Crowley had
the deer in the headlights look of the unwilling groom at a shotgun wedding?

Sgt. Crowley had requested the White House meeting and afterwards called it
“cordial and productive,” but he just didn’t seem with the program.

What’s “teachable” about a beer blast when it is crashed by a non-drinker, Vice
President Biden?

Am I the only one to notice that Professor Gates drank the only purely American
beer, appropriately Sam Adams, at the beer blast?

Wouldn’t it have been a blast instead to see Barry Obama wearing an Occidental
sweatshirt quaffing a Coors at a college kegger?

Will Professor Gates and Sgt. Crowley follow up with a beer at John Harvard’s
Brew House, Grendel’s Den, or even the Bull and Fitch Pub in Boston? Show
some cheer at Cheers.

Neither Professor Gates nor Sgt. Crowley have reputations as racists.

We don’t know exactly what happened in the house, but Professor Gates clearly
had a bad day, coming off a 14 hour flight, suffering from a bronchial infection,
finding the door to his house jammed, and then a white police officer in his house.
He too, not being a flamethrower, let his mask of civility drop, understandable
under the circumstances.

Police officers are trained to take verbal abuse, and are expected to do so, but Sgt. Crowley obviously thought the line was crossed, and exercised his discretionary authority to arrest.

Here’s what didn’t happen on July 16:
No beatings;
No hitting;
No kicking;
No slugging;
No slapping;
No smacking;
No kneeing;
No physical loss of control by the officer;
No lynching;
No burning cross;
No white robes;
No racial epithets;
No “N” word;
No video; no Rodney King, Philadelphia Police, Inglewood Police videos of white officers
beating black suspects.

President Obama should not speak off the cuff without TOTUS.

President Obama runs the risk of losing the effectiveness of the bully pulpit.

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