We had what some might call a spirited conversation here at RaceWire about whether Obama should apologize for saying the Cambridge police acted stupidly when they arrested Henry Louis Gates in his own home. (“Spirited” here means we couldn’t stop talking about it until someone blew a whistle).
Obama hasn’t technically apologized. He’s said he picked the wrong words (they sounded right to me!). But Michigan Congressman McCotter said earlier this week that he’d introduce a resolution in the House to make the president say he’s really sorry. That sounds familiar. A white man telling a Black man what to do. Where have I heard that one before?
But anyhoo, apparently a number of people are impressed that the President of the United States took responsibility for his words. Yes, our standards for the presidency have sunk so low that we’re thrilled when the guy says, maybe I could have done better, even when (hello) he did just fine.
On another front in the Gates arrest (how many fronts can one race controversy have, you ask? start counting m’ija), I’ve been noticing in my social circles how quick people are to claim that Gates behaved badly. Folks aren’t quoting stories or interviews with Gates but they are very sure that the Black man got riled up. You know, riled up like that kid with the ‘fro on the street corner who doesn’t pull up his pants. Oh, wait. Isn’t Gates a Harvard professor and an author of several books? If there’s a teaching moment here my friend, it’s this: class does not trump race; it just gets you on Larry King Live.
Considering that people are so quick to believe the cop instead of Gates, and that people are delighted with Obama’s sort-of apology, I am left thinking that most Americans (of all colors) are downright unwilling to acknowledge how racism still shapes all of our lives. In this denial, we want a truce in a race controversy no matter how stupid the deal is.
The only one making sense these days is Gov. Patrick. He called Gates’s arrest “every Black man’s nightmare and a reality for many Black men.”
What do you think? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments.