Distracting Obsessions

The unfortunate and troubling circumstances surrounding the rather arbitary arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates should not become a distracting obsession given the urgent necessities of the body politic. If a Sargeant in the Cambridge Police Department is upset that the President of the United States considers that said officer "acted stupidly" that's his problem, not the nation's.

While it is extremely unsettling that an officer acted in a manner that was seemingly abusive of rank, it is more unsettling how easily distracted the media becomes with issues of less than paramount importance.

The Hill provides colour on the White House reaction to an increasingly comical media circus.

President Obama regrets the distraction that his comments about a police incident in Cambridge, Mass., caused, according to a White House spokesman.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday that if the president knew "just how much of an overall distraction and obsession it would be, I think he would regret distracting [the media] with obsessions."

Gibbs did not say Obama apologized for his comments.

Obama started a maelstrom with his comments at Wednesday's primetime press conference, where he said police officer James Crowley and the Cambridge Police acted "stupidly" after Crowley arrested African-American Harvard scholar -- and longtime Obama friend -- Henry Louis Gates for not producing identification after breaking into his own locked home.

The ensuing fallout gathered steam Thursday and overshadowed the White House's push for progress on healthcare reform before Congress leaves for August recess.

Gibbs, speaking to reporters in his West Wing office Friday morning, said the president has no plans to call either Crowley or Gates.

Since Obama spoke Wednesday night, Gibbs and the president have seen their efforts at message control on healthcare collapse.

Police unions have blasted the president's remarks, and Crowley told reporters that Obama was out of line to weigh in on a situation when he did not know all the facts.

A man was arrested in his own home for no apparent reason other than an act of capriciousness on the part of a law enforcement officer. Even if you grant that Dr. Gates had become agitated, it is hard to believe that once Dr. Gates had proved that he was in his own home that the officer had any reason to remain on the premises.

Yet yesterday, as the President traveled to Cleveland for a town hall meeting on health care reform, Press Secretary Gibbs was inundated by questions aboard Air Force One about the President's comment on the Gates affair.

According to a White House transcript from Gibbs's conversation with reporters on the plane, he was asked 14 full or partial questions about Obama's remarks and seven about the healthcare town hall. Talk about misplaced priorities.

Update [2009-7-24 15:44:28 by Charles Lemos]: The President has made a clarifying statement. "Because this has been ratcheting up and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up, I wanted to make clear in my choice of words I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sergeant Crowley specifically," the President said."I could have calibrated those words differently," he said, adding that he had invited Crowley and Gates to meet him at the White House. I'll add that my point is not to speak to the details of the case but rather to bemoan that the Gates Affair has become a distracting obsession for the media.

Tags: Henry Louis Gates, Media Issues (all tags)

Comments

70 Comments

I disagree

The "acted stupidly" remark was stupid, and Pres. Obama appears to have apologized as well ...good for him. (thanks to jsfox for pointing this link).

There were several boneheaded actors in this play...starting with Prof. Gates, who accused a cop of racism based solely on an ID demand, the cop who arrested the said Professor, and the President who implied that the cop should have refrained from arresting the Professor because of an overall concern for health care reform.

I am glad that the President has apologized... he is a better man than most of us for it.

by Ravi Verma 2009-07-24 11:07AM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree

I agree. Since Obama is a gifted orator and politician, a blunder like the "stupidly" remark will flash like a beacon to the newsies sent adrift within the sea of healthcare coverage looking for something "sensational" to motor towards.

This was Obama's blunder. The nature of the news industry and two-party politics is no secret to anyone and part of Obama's job is to not f'up so amateurishly.

In other words, don't feed the machine, Mr. President!

by JerryColorado23 2009-07-24 11:19AM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree

it is only a blunder in the sense that one wants to use race and pretend that a black guy in his own home is not supposed to be accorded the same rights as a white guy.

by bruh3 2009-07-24 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree

I think that he had to appologize for telling the truth is exactly why this country will continue to go down the toilet. I also think that his has more to do with derailing healthcare reform and his Presidency than it has anything to do with the incident in question. I also think that anyone who thinks it is okay for the cops to have done this does indeed have problems with race. There is no way around the fact given how much white counter parts bitch about privacy and the how conservative they are about what the government should and should not do. The only thing that separates this incident from what a white conservative might have said under the same circumstance is skin color. He was not begging enough for the officers to respect his equality.

by bruh3 2009-07-24 11:23AM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree

Um, my point was only that our President answered a question in a manner that sparked a media shitstorm and threw serious legislation off-track. It is not whether or not Obama should have responded to the question and make the point he made. It is that he made a blunder in the way he articulated his point. Handled as delicately as we know he can use language he could have made his point more eloquently.

There is no doubt that Dr. Gates and the arresting officer let things get out of hand. And arresting a man in his own home for not doing anything more than getting pissed and yelling is acting stupidly. You and I can say it that way, but our President needs to elevate commentary.

That was my point, not that Obama needed to shy away from the subject.  

by JerryColorado23 2009-07-24 11:48AM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree

I somewhat agree, but I do think part of the problem in our society stems from the fact that the President can not call a duck a duck anymore. They used to say worse in the past, but now, we are so stuck in ritual, that truth is lost at the curb all to often.

by bruh3 2009-07-24 06:45PM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree

I know I'm a few days behind now since I've been away from a computer, but I wanted to tell you that you made a great point here. It is the manufactured outrage that is the problem. The reality though is that Obama knows the environment in which he presides and that environment ain't changing as far as I can see so his remarks are still scrutinized, but you are correct that the old schtick of feigning outrage over the slightest thing is what needs to change.

It seems that the only cure for this is if the 24hr party people got a one/two punch of plummeting viewership with a stream of specific, "Who gives a good goddam about ___?" tweets and emails.

by JerryColorado23 2009-07-27 11:55AM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree

He didn't "spark" a media shitstorm.  The media IS a shitstorm.

by lojasmo 2009-07-25 04:12AM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree

I disagree with a couple of your points.  I don't think Obama apologized because he told the truth, but because it is wiser for politicians to refrain from making comments when they do not have all of the facts at their disposal on a heated topic (hell, I lived through Guiliani and his ridiculousness).  To do so validates the tendency to draw conclusions on less than all of the facts, which degenerates public discourse.  I don't think it's the right example to set.  

I also think it's unfair to conclude that anyone who believes the cops are in the right are ipso facto racist.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who believe in authority's right to do whatever they want.  I have heard countless times, the old saw, well, if they weren't doing anything wrong they should have just complied and the cops would have been on their way.  Of course, my point does not preclude that some are motivated by race in their response to this event.  I just don't think it's the only possible reason.

by orestes 2009-07-24 12:28PM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree

a) I do think there is a problem in a society where the President can not be honest.

b) I did not call them racist. I said they have issues with race, and they clearly do when they take a situation that was no racial as I can tell, but made it so because of their issues. At the core, this is to me a situation of the press and some people here projecting onto the situation what was not a part of it.

by bruh3 2009-07-24 06:44PM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree

Fair eough.  Re b, I guess I overread your comment.  I think that race has been grafted on to this incident because of the claim that Gates made a charge of racism and, as Obama noted, there is a history of police issues with black Americans.  I agree that it would be more fruitful to treat this issue as one of possible police overreaching without resort to race because that is the real issue here.

by orestes 2009-07-24 08:02PM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree

But the officers hung their hat on race.  If Gates had been a cross-dresser, it would have been that.  If he had been a youth, or a woman, it would have been that.  If gates was a straight, white, fifty year old man, the cops would have slunk away.

by lojasmo 2009-07-25 04:14AM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree

Why do the officers have to hang their hat on any characteristic?  Coudln't it also simply be that cops don't like being questioned by anyone?  Also, if you think cops don't treat fifty year old white men the same way you are naive.  This kind of police action can and does happen everywhere.  That doesn't excuse it; it's simply a statement of fact.

by orestes 2009-07-25 11:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

Seriously,

Gates acted stupidly.  He got what anyone would get for verbally assulting a cop, period.  I wonder how many black studies professors lost their lives teaching last year.  143 cops were killed defending us last year!!!!  

Has anyone read what he yelled at this officer? I understand Gates insulted the officers mother.  Real classy.  And he wasnt arrested in his house.  He left his house and walked outside to confront the officer and started verbally assulting this officer.  Lets be clear ever Gates has said he did this.

This is not about a black man arrested in his house. This is about someone acting very badly and he got what he deservied but he thinks he is special and the rules dont apply to him.  Typical Harvard professor.

d

by giusd 2009-07-24 11:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

According to the castle doctrine, the yard is part of the home.

There is absolutely a disparity between how blacks and whites are treated by the law enforcement/penal community.

To somehow imply that this was gates' fault, is to imply that a white man would have received the same treatment.  Clearly, this is false.

by lojasmo 2009-07-24 12:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

dude,

I am from chicago. If this was a white man the cop what have kicked his ass?  He was not arrested in his house.  He chose to leave his home and stepped outside and verbally assulted a police officer.  

This is not about how blacks and whites are treated by the law enforcement/penal community. We can agree on that. This is about a spoiled, elitist, harvard professor who thinks the rules dont apply to him.  Did you not read where he says "you dont know who you are talkint to".

This is Gates fault.  He chose to make this into a situation and he raised the issue of race.  He wants to sue.  Please.  He is the one who is going to be sued and i dont like his chances.

Or can we just call him Andres Sterling???  One last thing.  My dad was a cop for 20 years.  Pretty hard job.  A lot harder that whatever Gates does???  Which is what?

d

by giusd 2009-07-24 12:08PM | 0 recs
Actually

the officer asked Gates to step outside.  See, it's much more difficult to trump up a bullshit disorderly conduct charge when the individual you'd like to teach a lesson is inside his own home.  You have to get him outside, then you can put the bracelets on.  Sergeant Crowley is good police.  A regular Lester Freamon.

You think Gates is going to get sued?  For what?  Hurting Crowley's fee-fees?

by JJE 2009-07-24 12:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Actually

Funny, i read this "He said Crowley arrested him as the professor followed him to the porch, repeatedly demanding the sergeant's name and badge number because he was unhappy over his treatment".

I agree that everyone can have a opinion but there are only one set of facts.  Gates chose this esculation.  Where i come from we are taught to be respectful of everyone including cops.  But not Gates he is a special man.  I rich, wealthy, elitist, harvard full professor who thinks he is better than a working man cop?  Or should i just call Gates Andrew Sterling.

But i agree times have changed.  Where i grew up if some spoke to a cop like that they would have gotten their ass kicked.

d

by giusd 2009-07-24 01:11PM | 0 recs
Read harder

Crowley said he wouldn't talk to him unless he came outside, and gives a ludicrous explanation about the acoustics.

Thanks for making it clear you think police should be able to kick the asses of whomever they want for any reason or no reason at all.  Not that there was any real doubt before but it's good to have clarity.

Or should i just call Gates Andrew Sterling.

"Uppity Negro who thinks he's better than a white man" lacks the brevity of "Andrew Sterling" but is probably a more accurate description of where you're coming from.

by JJE 2009-07-24 01:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Read harder

People like you think every anyone who disagress with your position on race is a racist.

And Amos and Andrew is a great movie that looks at the issues of race from many different views in a funny way.  I am not impressed with your "uppity Negro" line.  

Where i am coming from.  Really, and where are you coming from?

My dad was a cop for 20 years.  A man i very much respect.  Do you really think Gates acted respectfully to this police officer?  The man was doing his job.  And let me repeat 143 cops were killed last year.  Zero black studies professors or for that matter radiation oncoligists.

d

by giusd 2009-07-24 01:32PM | 0 recs
I don't care

what your dad did.  If his name isn't Crowley or Gates he's completely irrelevant.

It's a policeman's job to be respectful to the citizens they purport to serve, not the other way around.

by JJE 2009-07-24 01:38PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't care

How about just "it's the police's job NOT to arrest people because their feelings were hurt."

by Jess81 2009-07-24 10:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Read harder

Fail on the grounds that you used "Amos and Andrew" and "great movie" in conjunction.

by JerryColorado23 2009-07-24 02:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Read harder

Part of the oath of a police officer is "to protect and serve", even if you die.  NOT something in the job description of a professor, so you compare apples to oranges.  That is like saying police are cowards next to soldiers because fewer of them die, or that their jobs are the same as a soldiers because they go in harms way.  BS.

People screw up by the numbers, as professors, as soldiers, as Presidents, AND as COPS.  To say otherwise DISHONORS them, period.  No excuses no MATTER how honerable or dangerous their professions may be.  People in positions of power need to OWN UP first and ALWAYS, BECAUSE they are in positions of power.  If they can no longer handle it, they need to step aside.  Otherwise it leads to abuse.

And yes, I have been a soldier, a EMT, and a Govt. worker having to deal with some surley people (rural farmers!).  I know what it is to put your life on teh line for ungratefull people.  AND I know that there are a fair number of cops, soldiers, EMT's etc that DO look down on the people they serve and are basically "burnt out" but they cannot leave their job.  Jobs like that eat people up after a while.  What we need is a way to cycle them in and out to keep them focused and fresh so that crap like this does not matter.  

I would rather talk about the polite policeman who restrained himself and acted with the best judgement and how the private citizen could deal more politely with law enforcement/civil protection.

Just remember that while cops do not deserve to be unduly beat up over this, neither to professors.  Your argument sounds like one person is better than the other, a poor argument.

by Hammer1001 2009-07-24 04:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

If I stepped out onto MY porch to demand an officer's badge number, or even to tell him "get the fuck off my lawn" I certainly wouldn't be arrested.  I would also be well within my rights to do so...just as Gates was.

by lojasmo 2009-07-24 04:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

I would refrain from making absolute statements about a disparity between how blacks and whites are treated by law enforcement- meaning that cops can be equally abusive to whites and I speak from experience.  It doesn't move the debate forward to speak in such absolutes.  Yes, race plays a role in how one is treated by the cops, but so do class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.  I am not putting all of these on the same level, but the cop's motive ultimately doesn't matter when the end result is that your rights are being violated.  We should address this problem from that common ground rather than distract by making bald statements which result in a battle between two sides who refuse to see the other's point.  

by orestes 2009-07-24 12:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

good point, we are all in danger of rogue cops who may arrest us for not being 'properly deferential.' It's scary, for all of us, although it's mainly teenagers and people of color who get to experience it first hand.

by anna shane 2009-07-24 02:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

The stats back up statements regarding the disparaties. This is not an issue that you can reasonably say there is some doubt. I have friends who work on both the DA side  and defense and some who work for city governments. One in particular when I lived in Calfiornia discussed the topic at length with me. He's a white guy who just was honest about it, and said it was a problem. Now this was 10 years ago. Things are probably better, but still from what I ahve seen of the stats, problematic. that's not an absolute. It's just reality.

by bruh3 2009-07-24 06:49PM | 0 recs
Oh the poor ,poor, officer

Imagine, you have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, enjoy the benefit of the doubt in courtrooms across the land, yet have to suffer the occasional indignity of the citizens you purportedly serve occasionally saying mean things to you?  Who among us could endure such grossly unjust circumstances?

A single hot tear rolls down my cheek for Officer Crowley.

by JJE 2009-07-24 12:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

Professor Gates was standing on his porch.  This is what happened, according to the police:

As I descended the stairs to the sidewalk, Gates continued to yell at me, accusing me of racial bias and continued to tell me that I had not heard the last of him.  Due to the tumultuous manner Gates had exhibited in his residence as well as his continued tumultuous behavior outside the residence, in view of the public, I warned Gates that he was becoming disorderly.  Gates ignored my warning and continued to yell, which drew the attention of both police officers and citizens, who appeared surprised and alarmed by Gates's outburst.  For a second time I warned Gates to calm down while I withdrew my department issued handcuffs from their carrying case.  Gates again ignored my warning and continued to yell at me.  It was at this time that I informed Gates that he was under arrest.

I don't think there is anything special about exercising one's constitutional right to be pissed off on your own porch!

by psychodrew 2009-07-25 07:58AM | 0 recs
The 24 hour news cycle

The 24 hour news media entertainment cycle will die.

by Trey Rentz 2009-07-24 12:14PM | 0 recs
Inviting them to the White House

must be the smartest thing anyone could have thought of...talk about pointing the middle finger to the media.

by DTOzone 2009-07-24 01:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Inviting them to the White House

YES!

Feels great to have an adult in charge again.

"Calls by President Obama to Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and to Sergeant James M. Crowley inviting the men to meet with Obama at the White House were welcomed by both camps today."
Boston Globe.

by JerryColorado23 2009-07-24 02:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Inviting them to the White House

It's a nice idea to have them both come over for a beer.  But I sure hope everyone remembers to bring I.D.

by Steve M 2009-07-24 02:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

Police are public servants.  Citizens like the professor are the public.

There is a saying in the private sector that "the customer is always right".  That means even if you think the customer, or your client, has no reason to be upset, you act contritely if they are upset. It is really annoying that some public servants, be they bureaucrats or police officers, don't understand this simple concept.  The public is their customer, their client.  They need to treat us with respect. We are the customer.

by Rob in Vermont 2009-07-24 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

The black officer present at time of arrest agreed with the arrest. Crowley's fellow officers, black, white and latino supported his actions and have supported his character. End of story as far as I am conccrned. The President should have kept his mouth shut and Gates should have been more respectfully and not tried provoking the officers. Was it blow out of proportion , yes. Let it go and stop making it into some horrific event.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-07-24 02:30PM | 0 recs
You're kidding, right?

Jesus, have you EVER lived in a big city.

Most of the patrol cars have at least ONE black cop in them, and the Thin Blue Line is still intact.

Christ, I guess because Allen Keyes is a Birther, that means no racial overtones there as well?

You need to get out more often, bro.

by WashStateBlue 2009-07-24 02:35PM | 0 recs
Re: You're kidding, right?

Maybe they were both to fault? Perhaps Mr. Gates whop according to one witness was a little bit out of control and the cop who may have been a little too pumped up so to speak, could admit they were both wrong. But to sit here and say the cop was wrong and of course he was wrong becuase white cops are naturally wrong when it comes to black men, is absurd.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-07-24 05:07PM | 0 recs
I don't know of anyone who's saying that

I haven't heard anyone say that just because the cop was white and the suspect black, the cop is automatically wrong.

I'm more suspicious of the cop not because of anyone's race, but because he's a cop...and I've had experiences with the NYPD that make me feel cops can very often be drunk on power...as a matter of fact, I know people in the NYPD who would agree, but never say it in public.

by DTOzone 2009-07-24 06:03PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't know of anyone who's saying that

Yeah so saying its obviously the cops fault becuase he is a cop. Well I know plenty of cops, a couple in NYC, a great friend of mine who is an investigator for the Sheriffs Dept in Suffolk county, a couple deputies here in my hometown just to mention a few. And I have to say not a single one has ever told me that look at potential suspects in terms of color. Fact is they suspect everyone regardless of color the same when investigating a crime or potential crime. Are there more african americans arrested for crimes and imprisoned? Yes, absolutely, but to say thats the fault of white cops as some on this blog have said is pure crap.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-07-24 07:07PM | 0 recs
don't even get me started on Long Island

The problem out there is the rich vs. poor, My first job was covering local news out there and saw people get off of DUIs and DWIs because their daddy or mommy sat on some important board (black people even)...Nassau County is much worse...but you're looking at this in terms of race...I'm not...this is not about RACE, though the media enjoys making it about race because they enjoy any story that divides people cause it will allow producers and directors to show off their skills by doing two and four boxes, this is about POWER...the cops have it and abuse it, very very often...and they did here...arresting a person for disorderly conduct in their OWN HOME? WTF? Even if Gates did something to piss off the cop, why not arrest him for assaulting a police officer? It probably won't have stuck, but wouldn't have been nearly as stupid as arresting someone for disorderly conduct in their own home.

by DTOzone 2009-07-24 07:56PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't know of anyone who's saying that

Wow.  None of your cop friends admitted they are racist?  Color me surprised.

by lojasmo 2009-07-25 06:17AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't know of anyone who's saying that

Thats becuase none of my friends period are racist. And if you want to talk about racism, lets talk about the idea perpetrated that all the problems in the black community are caused by the white man. When is the African American community, notably inner city going to take responsibility for itself and stop blaming someone else?

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-07-25 12:06PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't know of anyone who's saying that

But you're not a racist.  Jesus Christ, someone make this asshole find a new blog.

by Steve M 2009-07-25 12:12PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't know of anyone who's saying that

Is Bill Cosby a racist for telling african americans to stop blaming others and take responsibility for themselves? How about Barrack Obama who just said the same thing? Go ahead call me a racist, I dont care, cuz it isnt true you moron. Ive worked with african americans on mutual cuases, Ive had african american community leaders tell me exactly what I stated here. Its long past time for african americans who look to cast blame on others instead of taking responsibility for themselves. Its the race baiters who need to perpetuate the lies of certain african american groups so that they can maintain power and control.

Go ahead, call me whatever names you want, fact is I am right and your wrong. The best you can do is call me a racist and an ahole....look in the mirror pal....

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-07-25 12:59PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't know of anyone who's saying that

Repeat after me: "I believe black people blame whitey for everything... but I'm totally not a racist!"

by Steve M 2009-07-25 04:11PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't know of anyone who's saying that

Thats not what I said and you know it. I said there are black people, particularly inner city who blame whites.

So basically, alogn with Bill Cosby and Jesse Jackson I am a racist.....makes sense....

Of course you are a mindless drone who has been brainwashed by the liberal left into believing america is evil, government can solve all of our problems and only they can make life better for me.....

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-07-25 05:20PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't know of anyone who's saying that

I hope everyone appreciates the irony of calling someone a "mindless drone" while simultaneously parroting some of the most vacuous talking points imaginable.

by Steve M 2009-07-25 07:04PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't know of anyone who's saying that

By the way, as a christian I am sure most would find your use of the Lord's name as reprehensible....

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-07-25 01:00PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't know of anyone who's saying that

See this is what I love about liberals in the party. Heaven forbid you talk about race in an honest manner. You are immediately branded racist. See liberals believe in free speech as long as you agree with their warped views of the world. Why becuase they think they are smarter than everyone else, when in fact liberal ideas have been an utter failure. It has been those in the center and center right of both parties that have advanced our nation. Your just bitter becuase you know the truth and cant deal with it.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-07-25 01:07PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't know of anyone who's saying that

You're so typical of a conservative.  You want to censor anyone who doesn't agree with you.

by Jess81 2009-07-25 02:52PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't know of anyone who's saying that

your kidding right. Everytime I say something that the liberals here disagree with, they scream that I shoudl be banned or leave.....

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-07-25 03:56PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't know of anyone who's saying that

See I am a racist for saying exactly what Bill Cosby and Jesse Jackson said just a few years ago:

"The onetime all-American TV dad, who provoked an uproar in May by telling poorly spoken African-Americans that they were squandering the achievements of the civil-rights movement, told a room of activists Thursday in Chicago that black children were "going nowhere."

Responding to accusations that he was airing the community's "dirty laundry," Cosby said: "Let me tell you something, your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30 every day, it's cursing and calling each other n------ as they're walking up and down the street," the Associated Press reports.

"They can't read; they can't write," he continued in his speech - punctuated by applause - at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition & Citizenship Education Fund's annual conference. "They're laughing and giggling, and they're going nowhere."

The entertainer first drew the spotlight at a Brown v. Board of Education anniversary celebration in May when he chastised the poor grammar used by some young African-Americans. "Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads," he said at the time. "You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth."

On Thursday, he lashed out at African-Americans who simply blame whites for troubles in the black community, castigating parents and black men who abuse their wives and girlfriends. "You've got to stop beating up your women because you can't find a job, because you didn't want to get an education and now you're (earning) minimum wage," the AP reports Cosby as saying.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who founded the education fund, backed up Cosby. "Bill is saying let's fight the right fight, let's level the playing field," Jackson said. "Drunk people can't do that. Illiterate people can't do that."

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-07-25 01:46PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't know of anyone who's saying that

How many posts in a row does it take for someone to officially begin talking to themselves?

by Jess81 2009-07-25 02:53PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't know of anyone who's saying that

You'd think that I touched a nerve or something.  This is basically what you get from conservatives nowadays... the only way you can actually be a racist is if you wear a white sheet and go around calling people the n-word.  Somehow, 99% of the racists in society just vanished overnight (except, of course, for people who support affirmative action... the REAL racists).

That's how you get statements like "I know none of my cop friends ever treat black people differently... because they tell me they don't!  Case closed."

Seriously, how mockable is this stuff?  "Black people are lazy and can't speak English right... wait, don't call me a racist, Bill Cosby also says black people are lazy and can't speak English right!"

by Steve M 2009-07-25 04:21PM | 0 recs
Due let to me know

where that idea is being perpetrated because I live in Brooklyn and never heard that.

by DTOzone 2009-07-26 04:35PM | 0 recs
Which goes to the larger point

That this cop didn't act stupidly because the suspect was black, he acted stupidly because he believed he was superior to the suspect, regardless of what race he was.

Of course the black officer agreed with the arrest...do you know about the Sean Bell case in New York? One of the guys who shot him was a minority.

by DTOzone 2009-07-24 02:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

A cop backing up a cop?  I'm fucking shocked, truly.

by lojasmo 2009-07-24 04:45PM | 0 recs
Get the cop off the record

you'll probably hear a different tune.

In my day at the Daily News, I interviewed cops about police brutality cases and they always backed the cops on record.

Then off the record...well.

by DTOzone 2009-07-24 06:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

What was appalling beyond anything else was the President of the United States mouthing off about an incident he knew nothing about other than his friend Gates was involved. Unfortunately, he picked on a race neutral white guy cop who has been a model for his department on treating everyone regardless of race with respect. Gates was an abusive idiot. Maybe he wanted to be arrested so he could get funds for his racial profiling video or whatever. Class, boys and girls. Class is the elephant in the room on this one--not race.

by linfar 2009-07-24 02:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

being an angry idiot is not yet against the law?  Arresting someone who didn't commit a crime isn't bright?  

by anna shane 2009-07-24 02:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

I hate to say it, Charles, but this diary is silly.  How often does the President of the United States comment, in a national news conference, on a local arrest in a small town for disturbing the peace? Not very often. And how often does the President of the United States say, in the same breadth, "I don't know all the facts" and "the police acted stupidly." Not very often either. This is not the "media's" fault (you are writing about it too--does that mean you are part of the problem?)  It's Obama's fault for stepping in it big time.

That being said, inviting both Crowley and Gates to the White House is a shrewd move that can perhaps diffuse this thing.  Let's hope so.

by markjay 2009-07-24 03:42PM | 0 recs
It has to be asked

How often does the President of the United States comment, in a national news conference, on a local arrest in a small town for disturbing the peace?

How often does a political reporter from a newspaper based in a complete different part of the country from where the incident takes place ask about it?

by DTOzone 2009-07-24 03:44PM | 0 recs
Lynn Sweet has been gunning for Obama

since Resko....

She knew this was a grenade with the pin pulled when she lobbed it up there.

by WashStateBlue 2009-07-24 03:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

Perhaps I failed to fully articulate my point. It's not the Gates Affair per se, it is that the President flies to Cleveland for a town hall on the health care reform and the WHPC prefers to badger Gibbs with questions about the President's comment by a 2 to 1 margin.

The post was about the misplaced priorities of the press corps.

by Charles Lemos 2009-07-24 04:37PM | 0 recs
to that point

what about the misplaced priorities of the American people watching this crap?

by DTOzone 2009-07-24 04:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

The Cambridge police department evidently has a goodly number of dummies (you have to be awfully ill-informed not to know who Gates is), but they are politically astute.  They knew that a black President had put himself in an untenable position, that they could demand and get a retraction.

Had an outraged George Bush made the same "stupid" comment, people would be hailing his courage and leadership on race issues.

by Bob H 2009-07-25 05:52AM | 0 recs
Disagree with your disagreement

I'm an old white man and I disagree with your disagreementr over Obama's calling the police action "stupid."  If it wasn't stupid, what the heck would you call cuffing and roughing up and old man who just returned from a long trip INTO HIS VERY OWN HOUSE!!!!!

Hello!!!

Is anybody in Left Blogistan listening?!!!

Obama's comments cut right to the heart of the matter: too often in this country cops act like hired goons who play god with the very people they are supposed to protect.  Like I said, I'm an old white guy who has on more than one occaision found police officers to be rude, accusatory, and unable to listen and formulate an opinion based on facts rather than pre-determinant profiling.

Case in point: Many years ago, I had a custody battle for my kids (yeah, unbelieveably, I won). That didn't stop my ex from calling the cops on me virtutally every night.  Guess what?  No matter the facts, the written court orders, the judges' decrees, the police continued to treat me like the  abusive husband wearing his wife beater tee shirt while swigging his beer.  Twice, my litle town has changed chiefs of police.  Twice, I had to go to them and show them the documentation to make their commando-like police force behave.

Driving while black or brown or young or poor is still a punishable offense in most of America.  I say Obama didn't go far enough.  He should have called for the Cambridge policeman and all like him to be summarily fired.  Let them cry all the way to the Robertscalioto court for their rights if they want to.  I'm not listening to boorish white thugs anymore.

Speaking only for myself, whether you like it or not...

by krj47 2009-07-25 09:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

I think you all miss the bigger point and problem with all of this.  We are all caught up in the Dr. Gates "said this and did this" and the arresting officer "said this and did this" game. What about the neighbor who didn't know who Dr. Gates was and just assumed, because they saw a black man trying to get into the house across the street through a jammed door, there was a break-in occuring?  If this neighbor had bothered to have known who Dr. Gates was AND had not racially profiled, then none of this would have ever happened.  That is far more heinous, to me, than the interaction that occured between Dr. Gates and the Cambridge police.  How can we EVER improve race relations, become a post-racial society and expect our civil servants to treat everyone fairly and justly, if we, ourselves, can't even identify and recognize the neighbor who may look a little differently than us?  Also, it is easy to fault the media for perpetuating this story, but it appears we are doing a pretty dang good job of doing that, on our own, as well.  

by realtarheel 2009-07-25 10:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Distracting Obsessions

Do you see the irony in the fact that you do the very thing you decry?  You are quick to make a judgment against the neighbor who called in the potential burglary (although I rad one report that said the caller was actually someone who worked nearby), going so far as to call him/her heinous, without any information about that person.  That is exactly what you find so heinous about this neighbor.  You even go so far as to impute that the neighbor did not rcognize Gates because he looked different than her (again, assuming the neighbor was white and only called because Gates was black.  The shame is that you think your profiling is justified because you believe you have a good motive.  Well, it is not uncommon in more affluent areas for neighbors not to know each other very well.  Perhaps Gates doesn't care to know his neighbors, which is his right as well.  How can we EVER improve race relations, etc. when people continue to make rash judgments about others on the basis of the (supposed) color of their skin?

by orestes 2009-07-26 06:35AM | 0 recs

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