Rich and Herbert nail it



While other pundits are searching for the ball in the rough, Frank Rich of the New York Times can be counted on to knock the ball straight down the middle of the fairway.  Though usually identified as a liberal, Rich is actually an independent thinker who challenges the Left when he thinks they’re pandering to a safe constituency, avoiding inconvenient facts. 

Intellectual independence allows the Times’ Sunday columnist to cut to the heart of the issue.

This piece on the Gates-Crowley affair is a case in point.  Rich takes a swipe at rightwing commentators who blather on about reverse racism, but he doesn’t stop there. 

You can’t blame Obama if he’s perplexed about the recent events. He answers a single, legitimate race-based question at the end of a news conference and is roundly condemned for “stepping on his own message” about health care. It was the noisiest sector of the news media that did much of the stepping.

Frank Rich has the guts to part ways with well-established media orthodoxy.  The national media, right, left and center, embraced the Iraq war as a holy crusade and never acknowledged the mistake.   Frank Rich didn’t chase the crowd on Iraq and he never forgave those who did.  Now he is accusing the white punditocracy of jumping to the unwarranted conclusion that Henry Louis Gates was an elitist whiner and that President Obama committed an unpardonable gaffe when he called the arrest stupid. 

Obama, Rich argues, didn’t have to have “all the facts” to see the obvious injustice in the Gates arrest.  So why were so many white commentators (and a few conformist blacks like Juan Williams) so willing to believe Crowley and condescend to Gates?

Some whites habituated to a monopoly on the upper reaches of American power just can’t adjust to the reality that Obama, Sotomayor, Oprah Winfrey and countless others are now at the very pinnacle, and that they might sometimes side with each other just as their white counterparts do.

The Gates business has returned our attention to the deep perception gap between black and white Americans.  If you want the standard take on Gates-Crowley in Black America, consider this scorching column from Bob Herbert.

If Professor Gates ranted and raved at the cop who entered his home uninvited with a badge, a gun and an attitude, he didn’t rant and rave for long. The 911 call came in at about 12:45 on the afternoon of July 16 and, as The Times has reported, Mr. Gates was arrested, cuffed and about to be led off to jail by 12:51.

The charge: angry while black.

And this:

The president of the United States has suggested that we use this flare-up as a “teachable moment,” but so far exactly the wrong lessons are being drawn from it — especially for black people. The message that has gone out to the public is that powerful African-American leaders like Mr. Gates and President Obama will be very publicly slapped down for speaking up and speaking out about police misbehavior, and that the proper response if you think you are being unfairly targeted by the police because of your race is to chill.

Herbert can bash the black underclass with the best of them, but genuine injustice stokes his inner fire.  When the Times columnist saw Sarah and Emily Kunstler’s “Scenes from the drug war” documentary on Tulia he fired off a dozen columns that hooked the indignation of prominent politicians and placed tremendous pressure on the legal establishment in Texas.  True, Herbert waited until the Tulia fight had attracted the attention of the Texas ACLU and the Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP, but he was willing to take sides in a highly ambiguous case that, prior to his entry into the fray, only lefties like Amy Goodman and Arriana Huffington would touch.

In an era when investigative reporting is rapidly being defunded and mainstream opinion leaders celebrate a post-racial America it is critical that people like Rich and Herbert are willing to stand apart.

4 thoughts on “Rich and Herbert nail it

  1. i listened to the nomination hearings for sotomayor until i could no longer tolerate the way a few of the senators harassed her, trying to put words in her mouth and beat her down before the american public. it would not have done for me to be in her shoes. the intimidation was too tough for a person of my temperament to handle but she did marvelous by not losing her “cool”. i chill in the presence of guns and tasers but anybody else catches “hell”, no matter WHAT color. the gates incident can’t be a teachable affair because of hard-core racism in America. the senator from n.c.(sessions), actually, expected people to take sides with him as he questioned sotomayor’s ability to rule without her gender and nationality having a bearing on her decisions. WHAT GENDER AND NATIONALITY HAS RULED AND HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY? and he would dare ask more of her than he would DARE ask of any of his peers? like the old saying, if you white, you right but if you black, get back. ( latino can, now, be inserted for black since they have arrived in such mass numbers. i don’t know what it would rhyme with, however. better put on my “thinking cap”. )

  2. Well actually Sessions is from Alabama. I tried some rhymes but didn’t come up with anything. I fear Rich is right that we will have continual tension in the years to come as whites lose population %. Circle the wagons, we’re under attack.

  3. Regarding 911 caller Lucia Whalen, a policy is discernible from this White House:

    No beer for snitches.

  4. Greg Sagan, columnist for Amarillo Globe News, has an editorial today regarding birthers. Title: “Birthers Make GOP a Laughingstock.” Potter and Randall counties (home of Amarillo) went 80% + for McCain. I expected a bunch of virulent comments on Sagan’s editorial. They didn’t show up. Surprisingly, some of the most anti-Obama commenters on other letters/editorials basically agreed with Sagan. Amarillo is evidently not a hotbed for birthers.

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