“Now, I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.” – President Barack Obama, commenting on the Cambridge police arrest of professor Skip Gates. (emphasis added)
With that, President Obama unleashed a firestorm that apparently really hurt his poll numbers. Now, I don’t want to dredge the whole issue up again – but I did think it appropriate to apply a broader quote than what we usually see in the media. What I would like to point out is that President Obama, as many of us do, applied a preconception to a series of events and made conclusions before it was all out in the open.
We contrast this with his comments after Nidal Hassam went on a shooting rampage killing 13 US servicemen. At this point, Obama cautions us not to rush to judgment until we know all the facts. Hmmm. Either the President learned from his earlier mistake of rushing to judgment, or for some reason this situation was different.
Now, neither of these is the point of this post. I merely want to bring up an unfortunate incident of past rhetoric that appears self-contradictory. What we want to do here is get ourselves on the record first, before the White House comments on the latest dust up in the Gaza.
First, a few cursory facts on the situation. Hamas, known terrorist organization, controls (legitimately?) the Gaza strip. From the Gaza, they regularly fire rockets into Israel – indiscriminately. Israel, has taken the step of blockading the Gaza to prevent military supplies from reaching their enemies. Activist groups have attempted at various times to run the blockade – including last night when six ships apparently attempted to break through to Gaza. Israeli commandos boarded all six ships. On five of them, they searched for weapons, peacefully, and allowed the ships to pass on after they were found to contain no military supplies. On the sixth ship, the passengers assaulted the Israeli commandos, who responded with force killing 9 (at last count).
Now, international outrage is abundant. But, I’m not all that concerned about what Sarkozy has to say. Furthermore, I’m not all that concerned about debating what our policy toward Israel should be. I’m interested to hear what President Obama has to say about the issue.
Why? Well, nearly one year ago, Iran held their presidential elections. The elections were a sham, as they always are, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad maintained “control” (the mullahs really maintained control). There was a rather broad popular uprising against the government, which was met with oppressive violence. Obama’s reaction … largely silence. When he could have pressed in and told the protesters “America stands with you” he demurred and said “they have their own election process and we should respect it.” (I’m paraphrasing, of course.)
What will he say this time? What will he say when Israel is fighting for survival? Will he now castigate the Israelis for violence (even if they were only trying to defend themselves)? Will he say this when he gave Ahmadinejad a pass? Time will tell. I suppose we’ll have our answer shortly. I just wanted to get the post out there first, so you, dear reader, who know that we’re thinking about these issues now, not simply reacting to statements after-the-fact.
We’ll try to follow up after any official statements come out.
update: It appears that the ships were rerouted to the port of Ashdod, where they will be searched again for weapons and humanitarian supplies will be routed to the Gaza.