Saturday, August 01, 2009

An Example To Consider


Everyone knows the story. Harvard professor, breaks into his own house. Concerned neighbor calls 911 indicating something is going on. 911 dispatches Cambridge police officers to the seen. Cambridge Police officers arrive at scene, question occupants of house where alleged break-in was taking place, controversy ensues and Harvard professor is arrested by Cambridge police Sergeant for disorderly conduct. President of the US is asked at his Health Care press conference about it. President says Cambridge Police acted stupidly. Shit hits the fan. MSM (main stream media) ratchets up the controversy. President backs away from remarks and says he should have calibrated his words better. President invites Police Sergeant and Harvard Professor to the White House for a beer. Harvard Professor and Police Sergeant meet and talk prior to the beer event. President, Vice President, Police Sergeant and Harvard Professor come away with projected attitudes that seem positive and focused on a desire to move forward.
President thanks both men for coming to the White House and having a "thoughtful conversation'.
Conflict resolution in play here folks. Anybody recognize this? Is it not ironic that while Bush was the guy people would "want to have a beer with", Obama is actually the guy who people do have a beer with?
No one is going to solve racial issues over a beer. It is a fairly safe bet no one is going to solve racial issues period over a million beers. This fact of racism is embedded in our collective DNA. Like a corrupted gene or chromosome, it is a condition we have to learn how to manage and live with. We will not eradicate it as long as we have stupid people who believe because someone of another skin color is either superior or deficient (pick your poison). As that great philosopher Forrest Gump said: "Stupid is as Stupid does". So true.
So it falls to people who do not tolerate racism in any form to do the hard work of reasoning, explaining, teaching, and finally if that doesn't work, shouting down the morons who believe because you look different than them you must be inferior.
The President is a fine man and a fine example of someone who will not allow the sins of the past to permeate his world-view. This is not a man who, as Rush or Glenn Beck say, is a racist. He doesn't "hate white people". This is a man (by the way, who is half white), who seems to put that in the past and focus on the path forward. I don't be any means believe he ignores what has happened in our past and neither should we. For over 200 years, we bought and sold human beings like they were cattle or horses. Fact. Terrible, Terrible, Fact.
This fact, like the genocide of the Native American peoples in this country is part of our sad legacy. As Germany has to deal with the rise of National Socialism in the 1930's and 1940's and will always carry Hitler and his ilk along their biographical journey, so must we too carry the scourge of slavery and then a long thread of racism as part of our collective character.
We can't get past this, but can learn from it. What better example of being able to build on the mistakes of the past and focus on building an environment where people are judged as Dr. King said, "Not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character", than a half black, half white president sitting down in the middle of a potentially racial firestorm, and talking about it with a focus on finding common ground and resolution.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, this is not the ending of racism, this is not the beginning of the end of racism, but perhaps it is the end of the beginning of racism.
I'm proud of my President. I'm proud of Sergeant Crowley and Professor Gates for getting together and talking through this problem. It exemplifies what's good about our country. We move on, we get past things, we heal, we survive...
regards, Dennis

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