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Police Profiling, Ethno-Political Bias, And Bigotry (Updated)

July 24, 2009

gates controversy montage 1gates controversy montage 2

American President Barack Obama has found himself in the first racial controversy of his young presidency with the arrest of noted Afro-American scholar and Harvard Henry Louis Gates by a white sergeant of the Cambridge police for disorderly conduct.

While the charge against Gates has since been dropped, Mr. Obama had tagged the Cambridge police for “have acted stupidly,” while admitting the professor was his “friend” and that he didn’t fully know what transpired between Prof. Gates and police sergeant Crowley.

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2009/07/24/obamas_defense_of_his_remark_in_gates_case_draws_more_fire/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Louis_Gates,_Jr.

Poring over the accounts, I can help but think of how our own policemen regularly, and quite mistakenly ‘profile’ on the basis of ethnic, religious, and political persuasion such that Filipinos get subjected to bigot from their own countrymen!

Not just policemen.

Some if not many of us routinely discriminate against our fellowmen along the same lines, plus those who are differentially-abled or look ‘poor’.

It is already a sad, sad fact that the protection of human rights in the Philippines is dismally poor.

What makes it worse is when those in the officialdom seem similarly unconcerned.

We have quite a lot to learn, and do, for there to be real equality in Philippine society.

Update:

Another quite instructive development in the case: Pres. Obama going out of his way to call the policeman involved: Cambridge police sergeant Crowley.

And you know what?

Mr. Obama gave what could very well be described as a presidential apology:

Can you ever imagine this being done by the President of the Philippines or any other official holding high rank?

Of course Mr. Obama is engaging in damage control given intense public reaction about him “shaming” the Cambridge police.

But damage control or not this surely is a lesson on being sensitive to public opinion, reaching out when a perceived errore had been committed without diminishing the high office.



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