In my view, the war on terror (or whatever we're supposed to call it) is in large part a conflict between people who desperately want to revive a culture which the world left behind centuries - or millennia - ago, and those who want the right to wear trousers or drink beer.
Dubiously-Accurate BeliefsDubiously-accurate points of view aren't limited to Islamic extremists, of course. Every group has its crazies, and every group has even more people who aren't all that aware of the differences between what they think is real, and the world the rest of us live in.
A case in point came up this week, when Cambridge police responded to a house break-in and put handcuffs on a friend of the American president's.
"...Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who reportedly has characterized the arrest as 'every black man's nightmare and a reality for many black men.'...Cambridge police aren't taking the right attitude, from some points of view. Instead of pleading for forgiveness and mandatory re-education, they're saying that the criticism is unjustified.
"...'I think it was a pretty straightforward commentary that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home,' Obama told ABC's "Nightline."
"When Obama waded into the story by answering a question about it during his news conference Wednesday night, he admitted that he "may be a little biased" because Gates is a friend.
" 'I don't know all the facts,' he also conceded.
"He said he did not know what role race played, but 'the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.'..."
They could be right.
Handcuffs, Harvard, and Feeling GoodI'm sure that the Harvard professor doesn't feel good about being handcuffed. I'd worry about anyone who did get a thrill about that sort of thing.
I've been detained by the police a few times, though: and been very carefully searched for weapons and/or contraband. I could wrap myself in righteous indignation and play the victim - but that would be a bit silly. I hadn't been engaging in criminal activity, but it didn't look like that from the law officers' point of view: and they'd be stupid to take chances. Even if I am some guy who uses a cane.
Back to the American president, a state governor, and assumptions.
Commie Plots, Disco, and Feeling GroovyWhen I was growing up, quite a lot was made of Americans who thought that commie plots were behind all the world's problems. We got characters like Frank Burns of "M*A*S*H" out of the heyday of anti-communist hysteria. I still enjoy watching re-runs of that seventies sitcom, by the way.
The seventies are as dead as Disco, the sixties are even further back on the timeline, and the McCarthy era is long gone. I've made the point before in this blog:
In a nation like America, where citizens are expected to vote intelligently, it's a good idea to keep track of what decade you're in. Or, by now, what century. That goes double for national leaders.
Unconsidered Assumptions?I'm quite sure that President Obama's prestige won't be hurt by this little gaffe. He's charming, charismatic, and a very intelligent man.
I can't help but wonder if this little oopsie doesn't show some of the underlying, unconsidered assumptions that Barack Obama retains.
- "Of President Obama, Politics, and the Another War-on-Terror Blog"
(June 21, 2009)
- A possibly-useful bit of navel-gazing for this blog.
- " 'The Whole World is Watching' - But This Isn't the Sixties"
(June 20, 2009)
- "North Korea, American Journalists, the Internet, and Power to the People"
(June 16, 2009)
- "Tiananmen Square 20th Anniversary: A Losing Battle for Traditional Information Gatekeepers"
(June 3, 2009)
- "Department of Homeland Security No Longer Fears American Veterans?"
(May 14, 2009)
- "Homeland Security Report: American Veterans are Potential Terrorists - I am Not Making This Up"
(April 15, 2009)
- "Genocide! Racism! Down With Columbus Day!!"
(April 8, 2009)
- "The 90% Solution: American Guns, Mexican Raids, and Common Sense"
(April 2, 2009)
- "No More 'War on Terror' - Officially?"
(March 30, 2009)
- "Missouri Focus Group MIAC: Ron Paul Supporters May Be Terrorists"
(March 23, 2009)
- "CCSU Students Talk About Guns: Naturally, Their Professor Called the Police"
(March 4, 2009)
- "DC Gun Ban, Online Censorship, Individual Rights, and Power to the People"
(June 27, 2008)
- "A Xenophobic Remark by a Gun-Toting Religious Small Town Person"
(April 12, 2008)
- "EEEK! Guns! Hoplophobia and Foreign Policy"
(December 23, 2007)
- "Obama says he didn't mean to slight Cambridge police"
CNN (July 24, 2009)
- "Cambridge Police Unit Requests Apology From Obama for 'Stupidly' Remark"
FOXNews (July 24, 2009 )