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July 31, 2009
The 'teachable moment' is not instructive
So, how did that mid week after work get together work out? You know, the highly staged one where one white guy was supposed to engage in a "teachable moment" about race with two mixed race guys while downing some cold ones? One of the mixed race guys, President Barack Obama (D) has a black African (from Kenya) father and a white European origin (living in America for several generations) mother. The other, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr, also claims white European (Ireland) ancestry.
Gates discovered his Irish roots when he found he was descended from an Irish immigrant and a slave girl. He went to Trinity College in Dublin to have his DNA analyzed. There he found that he shared 10 of the 11 DNA matches with offspring of Niall of the Nine Hostages, the fourth century warlord who created one of the dominant strains of Irish genealogy because he had so many offspring. Gates discovered his Irish roots when he found he was descended from an Irish immigrant and a slave girl.
Coincidentally, the white guy, Cambridge, Massacusetts police Sargeant Joseph Crowley, is also of European Irish descent and
whose name in Gaelic means "hardy warrior," is also descended from the same line as Gates, having very close links to Niall of the Nine Hostages.
Isn't it a small world?!
Because one of the mixed race guys, Obama, has the biggest house and with the largest lawn and even better security than available to a mere cop, plus other amazing amenities it was decided to conduct the "teachable moment" drinker in his yard. However, the other mixed race guy, Gates, has a very nice house too in Cambridge as befits a long time Harvard professor. So nice that allegedly someone tried to break in few week prior to the latest brouhaha. Gates also has a summer home on exclusive, affluent Martha's Vineyard. The white guy's residence? While certainly not a slum and very nice, not so nice as the other two.
Another white guy (also with Irish ancestors), Vice President Joe Biden, joined them at the last minute. He didn't seem to mind the last minute invitation. He lives in a big house too--but not as big as his mixed race boss, Obama, who is also about 15 years younger than him.
So who was the most qualified to lead the "teachable moment" on race?
One of the mixed race guys, Obama, was a community organizer in an all black neighborhood and a law school instructor at a mostly white law school--University of Chicago--before beginning his political career. Gates, the other mixed race guy, is Professor of African-American Studies at Harvard. Biden, the last minute invite white guy? He's a lawyer who has been in politics most of us adult life. Crowley, the white guy? According to O'Ryan Johnson of the Boston Herald, Crowley
has taught a racial profiling class at the Lowell Police Academy for five years.
Because this beer party attracted so much attention it offered better and more "teachable moments" than the underlying reason the guys got together.
For instance, despite government takeovers of some companies, competition is alive and well in America. Patrick Gavin of Politico reports. Even in beer.
As Washington - as only Washington can - turns what would otherwise be a gathering over beers among men into a highly scrutinized summit, several beer companies are using the occasion to make the case for their own products and why their beers should be downed this evening.
Three different guys. Three different beers. Maybe because it was a last minute invitation, Biden, the fourth guy, had a non alcoholic Buckler beer.
Crowley drank Colorado's Blue Moon. Sam Adams Light was Gates' choice, while Obama, ever mindful of his slim shape, downed a Bud Light, now owned by a Belgian company which bought it from St. Louis' Budweiser.
Another "teachable moment" for all the world to see, especially Iran, other Muslim countries, Venezuela, China and others if their governments are brave enough to show it, is that in America, protestors are allowed to demonstrate against a mixed race president and his white second in command without retribution.
"Citizens Against the Beer Summit at White House", a makeshift gathering spearheaded by Baltimore pastor Dr. Emmett Burns, will picket the White House today between 12 and 3 p.m. "The president's actions are sending the wrong message to our nation's youth who are becoming alcoholics at young ages," reads an announcement for the protest. "This pernicious habit is also the reason for the large number of teen motor vehicle accidents throughout the country."
And of course, everyone in the media, in addition to most of the citizens of the U.S. had an opinion and was not afraid to express it.
As is so often the case, these latter two non governmental aspects are the most vividly positive "teachable moments" of all."The national conversation about my arrest has been rowdy," offered Gates, who was more than rowdy when arrested--and consistently quite loud about it afterwards. But he too plans to meet with Crowley in the future because he now has a greater appreciation for police and "their daily sacrifices on our behalf." Obama, the host, who interjected himself in a matter that had nothing to do directly with him, felt they all had a "friendly, thoughtful conversation" and "I am hopeful that all of us are able to draw something from this." Afterwards, designated drivers whisked away the still sober guests.