Saturday, July 25, 2009


How About a Learning Moment?

A Cup of Tea

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"

"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"
We've heard Obama state of a "teaching moment" regarding the Gates incident. I just heard Roland Martin on CNN describe how whites need to learn about how blacks and police interact, because they can't possibly know what it like since they're white. (Of course, Martin, et al, always seem to know what it's like to be white.)

Perhaps, Prof. Gates is finally getting it. "It is time for all of us to move on, and to assess what we can learn from this experience." If Gates is including himself in the "we", then he's getting it. If he's just talking about the rest of us, he's not getting it.

Yes, there's still racism in the U.S. Just as there is religious bigotry. My youngest son, as a Catholic, has experienced some of this recently from a "friend." It still remains to see how this works out.

But, the cries of racism every time a policeman or other person in authority in does something a black person doesn't like are growing more than old. We live in a country where in Jenna, La. black kids can beat a white kid nearly to death and liberals jump to the aide of the perpetrators because of "history." We've come no where since the days when a retired black football player could commit double murder and walk because the cops are racist.

During the late 1970s in Knoxville, TN, I turned into a Wendy's parking lot to stop and get a burger and drink. A policeman pulled in behind me. He stopped immediately behind me when I pulled into a parking spot.

As I got out of my car, a beat up old VW Bug, he stated that my plates had expired. My appearance at this time was anything but a clean cut guy in his twenties. I had long, thick wavy hair, a fu Manchu mustache, faded jeans and God know what kind of shirt I was wearing. Basically, I was a hippie and could have been the local drug dealer.

Luckily, I remembered that the plates had been renewed and that my wife must have stuck the decal in the glove compartment rather than the put it on the license plate. (I was driving her car at the time.) I explained this to the officer and he let me check the glove compartment from which I retrieved the decals.

Showing them to him, he then requested my driver's license. Being slightly rattled, I had forgotten that I have put my wallet in my front pocket instead of my back one because it was hurting my butt. I patted my back pockets and feeling that my wallet wasn't there, I stated that I must have left it at home.

At that, he told me to turn and put my hands on the car and began to pat me down. He began at my ankles and patted up my legs. When he patted my front pockets, he felt my wallet and asked me what it was. I smiled, "That's my wallet and my driver's license is in it." He let me pull it out and I showed him my license.

By this point, people were watching from inside Wendy's and from their cars. Some with shit eating grins on their faces as I'm sure they approved of a damn hippie being harassed by the cops. The policeman looked at it. Realizing that everything was in order, told me so and that I could have saved both of us a lot of trouble if I'd had the decal on my license plate. I said, "Yes, sir," gave a weak smile and he left.

Throughout the incident, the policeman was rather hostile and belligerent. Maybe he thought he had to be so in order to assert his authority and power to a man larger and stronger than himself. Maybe he was just a jerk. I believe part of the problem was a week or so before there had been an incident where the Knoxville police had arrested Anna Sandhu Ray, the wife of murderer James Earl Ray, and taken her to police headquarters of a rather minor violation. The police had caught a lot of heat in the press because of this and I think they may have been arresting more people for minor incidents in order to "prove" that it wasn't unusual.

(This doesn't explain why racist cops would arrest the wife of Martin Luther King's murderer rather than pat her on the back and send her on her way though.)

During the incident I maintained a respectful tone of voice, cooperated fully. Despite my appearance and suspicious looking car, everything turned out OK. I could relate numerous other incidents involving friends and family but I've bored you enough.

Do people like Obama and Roland Martin think that whites are given a pass at all times? Are they so naive or stupid that they don't realize that the police have a responsibility to make sure everything in the household is OK? (Watch Panic Room with Jody Foster if you haven't already.)

What if Gates had been an angry husband in the midst of a nasty divorce and the police didn't check the house? There's more than one famous case of insufficiently curious police.

Back to the learning moment. Obama thinks this is a teaching moment. Naturally, a narcissistic man, like Obama, always thinks he has something to teach others but rarely learns except to how better manipulate others. This is not a teaching moment, it is a learning moment. The basic lesson to learn is to treat police with proper respect and etiquette. Another lesson to be learned by Obama and Gates and others of their mindset is that the constant cries of racism are falling on increasingly deaf ears as did the boy's cries of wolf. Not every unpleasant event in the life of black person is the result of racism. If you're black, you don't know what it's like to be white. Quit assuming our lives are a walk in the park. They're not.

Gates is an elite black professor at one of most esteemed universities in the world. The mayor of Cambridge is a black woman. The governor of Massachusetts is a black man. The President is a black man. Racism, on some level, will always exist. The knee jerk screaming of racism hurts the cause rather than helps.

"It is time for all of us to move on,...."

Oh, and, if Gates did show his driver's license, what address was on it?

Haha. If Prof. Gates had a learning moment, we would have heard an apology for acting like a jerk.
True. Sad, but true.
The knee jerk screaming of racism hurts the cause rather than helps.

It is counterproductive to the progress our culture has made.

I think people are walking back their statements because Sgt. Crowley seems to be quite a reasonable individual. It is a testament to nerves in the heat of the moment that the whole thing is now a circus.

As for your experience (if that's the style you were rockin' I'm surprised you had just one), I have found that a haircut and a polo shirt will get you out of more trouble than long hair and combat boots. That being said, if my treatment at the hands of police changed so radically based on my hair length and fashion choices, how much would my treatment have changed based on the color of my skin?
,,,how much would my treatment have changed based on the color of my skin?

I'm sure it made a greater difference in the past than now. But, I'm also sure it makes more of a difference. Again, that said, dress, behavior and attitude probably make a greater difference. Because I've always lived close to a rural area or in a rural area, I've known plenty of "white trash" that have been treated harshly by the cops. I've also found that a respectful, polite approach with dealing with cops goes a long way.
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