Thursday, July 30, 2009

We All Make Mistakes

I wasn't going to write anything about the Henry Louis Gates Jr. issue that has brought the race debate to the White House, but the more I thought about it, well, obviously you see the result.

Ok, I admit that my feelings regarding this incident are skewed in both directions - on one hand, as a former law enforcement officer, I know the folks "in blue" are not always saints, but they are not always sinners either. On the other hand, as a Black man who has personally experienced, "questionable" police behavior, I empathize with Dr. Gates and the multitude of emotions he must have felt during this unfortunate incident.

The problem is, the cynic in me wants to reprimand both of the parties involved for letting the incident get out of hand, and then I want to ask President Obama, what the hell he was thinking interjecting himself and ultimately the Presidency,to the degree in which he did. Then, to make matters worse, President Obama offers an "apology" for the manner in which he "spoke" on the issue! That's on par with GOP National Chairman Michael Steele apologizing to Rush Limbaugh for offering viewpoints outside the perceived mainstream and political correctness, under pressure from the "establishment" within his party! In my view, it weakens both men.

I have no doubt that Dr. Gates and the Cambridge policeman both did and said things that helped to escalate rather than defuse this tense situation. But for President Obama to place himself in the middle of this without having all the facts, sends the wrong message regarding his "Presidential" behavior, and helps to undermine his presidency.

The police officer involved will suffer personally and professionally for his part in this incident. Being branded a racist, whether real or perceived, does not go away quietly. That designation will haunt him for the rest of his life.

As for Dr. Gates, well, we all need a wake up call periodically to keep us humble with the gifts God has bestowed upon us. Ego and arrogance tend to cloud judgement and this was a stark reminder that in spite of the accolades, awards and degrees, all of which he worked hard for and truly deserves, he is still just a man. And men do make mistakes.

For both of these men, the hard lesson here is, as a wise man once said, "respect is earned, not bestowed".

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