A few days ago President Obama said the police “acted stupidly” when they arrested honorary Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., 58, at his home after suspecting he broke in. (See story)
Obama clarified his stance Friday.
“I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sgt. Crowley specifically,” Obama said. “I could have calibrated those words differently, and I told this to Sgt. Crowley.”
I think the Cambridge Police Department acted stupidly. As a matter of fact, I think most police departments act stupidly.
If the officer was responding to a break-in at Gates residence as saw that Gates was inside, what was there to investigate? Why was the officer still interrogating Gates after he showed his proof of residency?
It’s custom for law enforcers to seek out “minority” criminals. It’s also custom for law enforcers to be suspicious of “minorities” in nice clothes, nice cars and in Gates’s case nice homes.
This incident is just a reminder that although times have changed so much, they have changed so little.
Some people thought that just because Obama became president, African-Americans, and “minorities” in general, would automatically receive better treatment and stereotypes would subside. Many thought Obama was a savior, as if his mere presence would miraculously fix America’s problematic racial relations.
That’s not the case and never will be the case as long as we categorize ourselves. Every time we classify one another as a color, ethnicity, or nationality we draw lines of division. We spend so much time focusing on our differences that we can’t help but feed into stereotypes about the groups we create.
Although what Obama said was his opinion and definitely can be argued, as president, Obama has to watch how he says things. To call the police “stupid” should not be a cardinal sin, but because we Americans are sensitive and hold our public figures to high-standards, the president will have to devise a better way of verbally chastising stupid police officers.