Monday, July 27, 2009

Gates-Gate’s Potential Fallout

Injustice Everywhere

National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project


By Packratt

obamaI really didn't want to write about what the media has deigned to call Gates-Gate, I figured there was quite enough already written about what appears to be among the least egregious examples of police misconduct of the 105 others we've tracked in our police misconduct news feed since that story first broke on July 20th.

But, there's something that everyone is overlooking in this whole debacle that is much more frightening than the singular case of alleged racial profiling and subsequent arrest on contempt of cop charges that occurred afterward. So I've decided to throw my hat into the circus ring on this one.

It's also something more upsetting that Obama's poor choice of words in response to the incident and the police unions' melodramatic claims of deeply aggrieved feelings over the matter. It's even a bit past the rapid backpedaling that the president has undertaken in response to pressure from police unions and the pending demands from republicans that the president offer public apologies over his choice of words.

No, what's not been discussed is that it's entirely likely that Gates-Gate will cost the US any hope that any of the civil liberties lost in our paranoiac post-9/11 nation would be restored by the "president of hope and change" will be dashed because of the way the president has and will handle this debacle.

See, once the president apologizes, which it's entirely likely that he will after his beer-date with Sgt. James M. Crowley and "Skip" Gates, the president loses any political argument he may have had hopes of using to press for civil rights reforms. But even without a direct apology, the ammunition has already been hand-delivered to anyone who would stand to gain from opposing any civil liberties agenda Obama may have taken on.

If Obama did try to push for restoration of civil liberties or a civil rights initiative to try and deal with racial profiling he would be met with a republican rebuff that can now cite a specific example of where Obama was wrong about the issue of civil rights instead of grasping at straws to show how their opposition to such an agenda wasn't just them being the "party of no" or worst, just plain racist as usual. No, now they have something to grab onto in their opposition, something tangible to point at and say "Obama is weak on crime because…"

But, that's not the only problem Obama's reaction to Gates-Gate has revealed. The other problem now on the table is that Obama likely feels like he has to restore his image of being a friend to the police now that police unions have feigned hurt feelings over Obama's words.

So, it's quite likely that we won't just see an absence of any civil rights platform from Obama during his first term because of this, but it's entirely likely that Obama will overcompensate and try to push a "tough on crime" agenda to show he's down with the police… In other words, it's quite possible that we may see a further reduction of civil liberties in the US, not just a continuation of the already reduced freedoms we already experience.

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