Reporter's Note: The President has a pretty great job. Mine’s not bad either, even though I do write a letter every single day to the White House, and I have not exactly been swamped with replies. Hint, hint, hint.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
Well, I have no idea what to make of all the noise over your comments on that black professor being arrested up in Massachusetts. I thought you were headed down the right track in your presser when you were asked about it, and started by saying you really didn’t know what happened. But then you started making comments about it anyway.
Pretty soon you were saying the police acted stupidly, and now it seems like everyone and his uncle has an opinion. Did the police overstep their bounds to target a black man? Did a distinguished professor lose his cool and pick a fight? You don’t know. I don’t know. And with racial tensions buzzing like hornets all around the incident I suspect we’ll never know. Nonetheless, I have been thinking about a number of alternative scenarios and wondering how they would have played out.
For example, if the police had not responded quickly to the report of a suspected break-in, would that have constituted racist behavior, because they didn’t take enough interest in protecting the professor’s house?
If the officer had not asked for identification, and the man in the house had in fact been a burglar who then proceeded to clean the place out, would that have been a racist disregard for doing the job right…because, after all, it was a black man’s home?
What if the professor had been confronted by an intruder who was hiding behind the door threatening him, and the professor was trying to raise an alarm by challenging the officer in some way?
None of those things happened according to either man’s account of the incident. But such judgment calls have to be made by police officers every day. The evidence tells us that many minorities have for a long time been unfairly persecuted by some members of law enforcement. So it makes sense that members of those groups might be wary of any encounter with any officer. Like I said, we just don’t know precisely what happened and I suppose we never will.
What I think we both do know, however, is this: When anyone of any race makes a predetermined judgment about the right or wrong of any other person’s actions or intent, and they attach that judgment to race…that is the very definition of racism, and it hurts us all.
Call if you can. I suppose we could talk all night about this one.
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