The Real “Teachable Moment” on Race
WASHINGTON – The police officer at the center of a national dispute over race and law enforcement says a much-anticipated meeting at the White House was productive and all parties are looking forward.OK, so Obama has handed out beers to Gates and Crowley and sort of (but not really) apologized for saying the Cambridge, Massachusetts police acted “stupidly.”
Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley spoke after meeting with President Barack Obama and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., along with Vice President Joe Biden. Crowley described himself and Gates as “two gentlemen who agreed to disagree” about the confrontation that led to Gates’ arrest.
Liberals like the term “teachable moment,” and when they apply it to race, they mean a “moment” when white Americans realize how racist they are (or at least have been) and how they need to grovel before black people whom they have victimized.
Except this time it didn’t work that way. Obama took the standard politically correct tact on the issue -- the “Cambridge cops” (meaning Crowley, who arrested Gates) had “acted stupidly.” But instead of knee jerk acceptance, the remark created a firestorm, and Obama had to start practicing damage control.
The public simply wasn’t buying the standard “blame whitey, blame the cops” line. On online poll on the ABC News website shows 85% of respondents saying that Obama “went too far” attacking the Cambridge Police.
(The poll isn’t scientific, but this is ABC News, not Fox, and there is little reason to believe there was a conservative selection bias.)
Playing the race card had not worked. Gates, who like many blacks in academia has been coddled, pampered and catered to for talking about black victimization, found that people weren’t buying it. At least, outside the rarefied environment of academia and the media the product wasn’t selling.
One genuinely heartening thing about the whole affair was the way in which black and Hispanic cops in Cambridge rallied around the comrade. Their white comrade. Apparently, they saw themselves not as black victims, but as people doing the same tough, demanding and (often) dangerous job as Crowley. Black cops too are often vilified when they stop black suspects.
All this is racial progress. But it’s not the sort of change that liberals and race hustlers want. They, not the fair-minded majority of Americans, are going to need a lot more “teachable moments.”