Today is Sunday, July 26, 2009. Mick Jagger is 66 years old, Sarah Palin has left the office of the Governor of Alaska and Yo Mama has forgiven her own stupidity. If you have been reading my posts on this site for the last year and a half, you know my intolerance for stupidity. In reviewing this past week’s racial incident in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I still have no patience with stupidity but have learned that, as long as the offender is aware of his stupidity, admits it, and then tries to make conciliatory amends, all can be forgiven. Stupidity is the silly side of ignorance, which is more often than not ill-intentioned. To be deliberate in one’s ignorance is to close out any other alternatives.
Other than the fact that Mick Jagger hit this ripe old age, I just felt his birthday deserved mention. Mick is one smart cookie. No stupidity there. Pushing 70 years old, he still has a full tour schedule. He knows his talents and stays healthy to continue his trek.
Not so with our Sarah. She has no insight into her own limitations so therefore she cannot better her outlook and prospective horizons. Pray tell: how in Heaven and earth can our Sarah aspire to higher elective office when she has quit as Alaska’s governor because, self-admittedly, she could not get done what she wanted to get done? Does she really think that politics on the national and international level is so much easier than governing Alaska? Look. She is 45 years old. If she has not been able to grasp what the issues are and finesse some solutions, she is NEVER going to be able to understand the intricacies of politics and government. I think she has had quite a shot at developing and demonstrating her expertise in her chosen field. She failed and she should just sail off into the sunset. Not only is she stupid, but she is lazy, a fatal combination in our public world of politics. No admission of stupidity, no corrective measures. Therefore no forgiveness.
MY stupidity is astounding. However, if nothing else, Yo Mama is honest. As the President said the other day about events in Cambridge, this is a “teachable moment.“ The last time I flew to Maine, I went to the wrong metropolitan Washington, D.C. airport. This time, I was even more stupid. The night before my trip, I turned on the computer to print out my boarding pass. Lo and behold, I realized that I had booked a 9 P.M. flight instead of the A.M. flight. Alas, alas, what to do? To change the flight, which cost me $300 round trip, would have added an additional $1300. Not an option. So I decided to fly standby. I arrived at the ticket counter the next morning and admitted my own stupidity to the ticket agent. Mind you, in my whole life I have never had an airline employee be helpful, much less be kind. This man was both. He told me that people make this same mistake all the time. He then proceeded to assign me a regular seat on the plane and waive the $50 standby fee. I hugged him. In thanks, I promise NEVER to badmouth airline employees in general nor attack them specifically for the rules by which they must abide. Reconciliation, right?
Regarding the incident between Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the Cambridge police, President Obama was correct, as Mo Dowd pointed out in her column today, in both of his meetings with the press. Police Officer Crowley DID act stupidly when he arrested Gates for his disorderly behavior in refusing to exit his own house. Also, Gates probably DID overreact to the policeman’s lack of respect for his rightful presence on his own property. So President Obama, in his second, impromptu press conference, admitted his poor choice of words in describing the Cambridge police as “acting stupidly”. However, he did use this as an opportunity to reconcile the two sides, hopefully bringing about a dialogue between the parties so that this sort of incident might not happen again, at least not in Cambridge.
Fat chance. Even our President added at that second public address that he is adamant that racial profiling is a real phenomenon. Let me tell you a story. A number of years ago, we were friends with an African-American couple in our neighborhood. Both of them were highly educated. He held the number two position with one of the premier African-American charities for over twenty years. She was an event planner who could count endless, high profile personal and professional contacts as her friends and colleagues. They, at that time, had one child left at home, a youngster still in elementary school. One night, their child invited a friend to sleep over and just as everyday occurrences happen to all of us in the course of raising children, this young guest woke up in the middle of the night crying for her mommy and daddy. So after speaking with the guest’s parents, the husband offered to drive her home. Well, walk a mile in his shoes, folks. All the way on that trip, he was petrified of possibly being pulled over by a policeman and the fear of the consequences, totally manufactured and pre-ordained, forced him to drive at 30 miles per hour, even on the highways. He related to us his terror of being pulled over and the cop observing a screaming white child in the car with a black man. Needless to say, this fear that the husband had is something, a reality, he lives with every day of his life. It is not just a hypothetical, irrational fear on the back burner of his thoughts. It is with him every waking moment of every day.
So yes, racial profiling IS alive and well and flourishing in this great country of ours. How ironic, though, that the latest episode involved one of the most prominent African-American men of our time, who, by the way, is married to a white woman and has inter-racial children, so do not talk to me of reverse discrimination. It is almost as if this event was preordained by the aligning of the moon and stars to prove to us that this horrendous prejudice exists. If Gates, the mild-mannered, 55 year old, cane-using, Harvard professor is hauled up on charges, can you imagine what the consequences could be for your average, run-of-the-mill African-American or Hispanic male? I, like my friend driving his child’s playmate home in the middle of the night, shudder to think.
Nevertheless, all three parties, Officer Crowley, Professor Gates and President Obama have agreed to meet over a beer at the White House. With the mob mentality (on both sides) too long and too often the overriding factor in race relations, perhaps this small meeting could have huge consequences. In our racial outlook, we must begin on an individual level, one on one. Perhaps if we familiarized ourselves with one person of another color, ethnicity or sexual preference we could generalize the acceptance, the fact that this person is really not that different from us, certainly not deserving of less human dignity and rights, to others who may be different from us. So even though Crowley and Gates acted somewhat stupidly in their initial encounter, their willingness to reconcile and consider each other as valuable human beings is somewhat of a happy ending. And who other than Barack Obama could have engineered this détente?
This time-consuming nonsense must cease mainly because those in the majority, enjoying all the frills that come with that position, may one day find themselves in the minority. If the majority treat the minority poorly and less than equal, the tables could be turned at some point in the future. We need only to look at the minority position in which the GOP currently finds itself: they would much prefer the failure to establish health care reform, to have the President meet his “Waterloo”, than pass legislation for the benefit of our citizens. They consider this possible, losing scenario as a win for their non-dominant party. This is not productive or progressive thought. Better to be justly motivated and fair from the get-go.
So here I am in Maine due to the kindness of a stranger. As angry as I get with right wingers, militant Lefties, and yes, stupid people in general, I was the maddest at myself. I figure if I could forgive my own stupidity, I probably could forgive stupidity in others. A prerequisite though, must be the recognition, admission and reversal of that stupidity by the guilty party.
So to Officer Crowley, Professor Gates, Barack Obama, airline employees, even the GOP, let us start over, hopefully on a more peaceful, unified path. As for our Sarah, not going to happen. Admittedly, the initial charisma and raw talent she demonstrated upon being thrust on to the national political scene has been overtaken by her lack of interest in developing her mind and her absence of follow-up with hard work. Thus our Sarah is assuredly HER own Waterloo. Her blindness to her own stupidity, wrapped up in her defensiveness, all but ensures that her ignorance will continue. She is still in her self-righteous world made up of only herself. No forgiveness here. But hey Sarah, in all fairness, prove me wrong. I am still open to reconciliation.
My lesson of the day: clinging to one’s stupidity is actually worse that the original fault of being stupid, for then our initial silliness enters into the more permanent, ingrained realm of ignorance.