Friday, July 24, 2009

What’s Wrong with this Picture?

After the President said that the Cambridge police Department had acted “stupidly” in arresting distinguished Harvard professor Louis Gates in his own home, he made more conciliatory statements today that both the white police seargent and professor Gates had “overreacted.” The President is correct, politically, in dialing this back.

But here’s what I don’t get. Did anyone see the Massachusetts police unions press conference today? (See picture below.) I happen to think the picture is at variance with the AP story lead on this, by Bob Salsberg, which was widely distributed in the mainstream media:
“CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A multiracial group of police officers today stood with the white officer who arrested a prominent black Harvard scholar and asked President Barack Obama and Gov. Deval Patrick to apologize for comments the union leaders called insulting.”
Multiracial group of police officers” –– really?

When the camera pans out to include the entire group, there are a whole lot of ethnic white middle-aged men (sorry, but these guys come across as Archie Bunkers to me) with two African American men and two women that I could see –– tokenism at its best. One of the women was hidden behind a wall of plump beer-and-donuts white guys, and the other was a P.R. step ‘n fetchit responsible for tapping microphones and making sure everyone exited stage right. None of the black officers or women onstage spoke or were introduced as leaders in their organizations.

Is it me, or was this lineup of Massachusetts' finest long on obesity and white ethnic homogeneity and short on diversity and promotional opportunities for women and minorities?

Chris Matthews (mixed feelings about this guy) made an awful analogy, when he said had it been a black police officer and the “GREAT” white Henry Kissinger who was arrested in his home, the black officer would have gotten all kinds of grief for treating such a “distinguished” academic in this way.

Not from me, he wouldn’t. My hope is, the black officer would be arresting Kissinger on an order of extradition to a ballsy country, like Spain, or to the World Court at the Hague, which the Obama Administration had rejoined as signatory, to be tried for war crimes.

The black officer might not get an invite to the White House for a beer with the President, but he wouldn’t lack for invitations from those of us who believe no one is above the law.

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