In case you didn't know, racial tensions still exist in America. We can see this quite clearly by the response to the recent incident in which a Harvard professor was arrested at his home. It's not exactly clear what happened, but basically the police saw Dr. Gates trying to get into his home, however they thought he was an intruder. Tensions arose as Gates felt he was enduring another incident of police misconduct and racial injustice. From the perspective of the police officers, Gates appeared suspicious. When they confronted him, he did not cooperate and he became belligerent.
Obama stirred the pot on Wednesday by suggesting that the police acted "stupidly." Since then allegations have been flying from all over as to the appropriateness of the conduct of the police, the professor, and the president.
Today Obama weighed in again on the situation when he spoke at the White House press briefing. I believe Obama's profound, humorous, and humble remarks, reflect true leadership.
In his remarks, Obama said he'd called Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer, and spoken with him. He made some attempts to tamp down the furor, saying his impression of Crowley is that he's "an outstanding police officer and a good man" and that he'd talked with him about the three men -- Crowley, Gates and Obama -- having a beer together in the White House (Salon).His entire remarks can be found on the link and are worth a read, but here's an excerpt.
My sense is you've got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able to resolve the incident in the way that it should have been resolved and the way they would have liked it to be resolved...My hope is, is that as a consequence of this event this ends up being what's called a "teachable moment," where all of us instead of pumping up the volume spend a little more time listening to each other and try to focus on how we can generally improve relations between police officers and minority communities, and that instead of flinging accusations we can all be a little more reflective in terms of what we can do to contribute to more unity.Now I'm not much of a beer drinker, or an alcohol drinker for that matter, nor do I think Obama is perfect, but I think we could all benefit from learning from Obama's approach to this conflict.
- Courageously speaking up for those who are mistreated
- Knowing when to back off and restate your opinion
- Praising the positive qualities of your opponents
- Speaking directly with your opponents
- Addressing the larger issues at play
- Finding common ground and humor
- Working for reconciliation between people
- Getting together with folks for drinks