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Breaking Into Your Own Home

Posted by AB on July 23, 2009

Last night, the President held a prime-time press conference at the White House.  The hour-long press conference was focused on health care reform, but the very last question of the night is what everyone in the media is talking about. 

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times asked the President to comment on the arrest of African-American Harvard professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr., who was arrested in his own home on suspicion of breaking and entering.  The President, thoughtfully, answered by saying that he was biased because Professor Gates is a friend and that he didn’t know what role race played in the incident, but it seemed that the situation was handled “stupidly.”

It’s amazing that one word could be so controversial, especially when the statement is not arguable.  The police were called to investigate a break-in at Gates’ home on the afternoon of July 16.  Understandably, Gates was miffed that he was being questioned in his own home, and after proving that he was, in fact, the owner of the home, something happened.  The 58-year old, Gates was, in his words, “lured,” outside, where he was promptly handcuffed and taken to police headquarters for booking.  The charges of obstruction were later dropped.

Hiding from the health care debate, the GOP and conservative pundits promptly attacked the President for using the word, “stupidly.”  During the attack on the integrity of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the GOP dragged white firefighter, Frank Ricci, into the middle of the politicization of the Supreme Court.  The message?  Sotomayor hates white people.  The President says the arrest of a man in his own home was handled “stupidly,” and here come the attacks.  The arresting officer was white.  So, what’s the message?  The President hates white police officers.

It’s a shame, really, that arresting a man for breaking into his own home wouldn’t be universally disdained, no matter the race of the homeowner or the officer.  I know that I would be angry.  It should also be pointed out that Dr. Gates walks with the aid of a cane; hardly a threat of physical violence or flight.  Just Saying.

One good thing came from this, for me at least.  It reminded me of a Dave Chappelle stand-up comedy special, “Killing Them Softly.”  If you get an opportunity to see the entire routine, you won’t be sorry.  The beginning of the following clip is eerily reminiscent of Gates’ troubles.


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