“This Still Haunts Us”

While this question and answer by President Obama during last night’s healthcare press conference on the arrest of Harvard professor Skip Gates stirred up a great deal of controversy with cable news talking heads and is by no means what last night was about, I do think it’s worthwhile pointing out that in his response condemning the actions of the Cambridge police department, President Obama displayed the most intense moral clarity in discussion of race in America that we have seen in his brief tenure as President. His response stands as firm rebuttal to all those in the media and on the right who wish to take the importance of his election and use it as a means of leveling-down our nation’s ongoing problems with race relations. Having elected an African-American president doesn’t mean there is no longer racial profiling in America. It doesn’t mean that we have absolved our history as a nation that cherished slavery for nearly our first hundred years and, in places, used violence to prolong segregation for the next hundred years. President Obama is uniquely poised to use his bully pulpit to force America to confront our problems with race. Last night he did that and I applaud him for it.

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