Saturday, July 25, 2009

Obama invites race row policeman for a beer in the White House.

I've taken that headline from the Guardian, but it's slightly misleading. Obama has invited both the policeman, Sergeant James Crowley, and the man he arrested, Henry Louis Gates, to the White House for a beer.

The press seem keen to portray this as Obama backing down, but I note that he has not offered any kind of apology.

The president said he should have chosen his words more carefully but stopped short of an apology. "Because this has been ratcheting up and I helped to contribute to ratcheting it up, I want to make it clear that in my choice of words I unfortunately gave the impression I was maligning the Cambridge police department and Sergeant Crowley and I could have calibrated those words differently," he said.

Seeking to lighten the situation further, he said at the daily White House briefing that he had invited both Crowley and Gates for "a beer here in the White House".

However, the president also said he felt both men could have handled the situation better.

Obama is seeking to defuse a situation which should never have got so out of hand in the first place. And he is being attacked for daring to suggest that the police treat black suspects differently from the way they treat white members of the community.

But the figures speak for themselves, as Obama - rightly - stated:
"There is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. And that's just a fact."
People are effecting outrage because they are pretending to themselves that the election of Obama means that the US is now "post-racial".

Obama's sin is that he has stated the bloody obvious.

I think it rather charming that he has invited both Crowley and Gates for a beer in the White House. He's implying that we all should chill, which was what he thought the two men should have done in the first place.


Here is Obama's press conference. And he's clearly not backing away from his original comments about the sensitivity which minority communities feel regarding their dealings with the police.

And Obama makes clear that the reaction of the press to this story is proof that this is not simply a local issue. Nor does he regret getting involved. He simply wishes that he had chosen his words better.

Click title for full article.

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