Sunday, July 26, 2009

Obama's Insensitive Remarks

Barack Obama's remarks about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, noted African American scholar and Harvard university professor, have quite rightly received criticism for impugning the good men and women serving in police forces not just in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but around the United States. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) has authored a resolution demanding Obama apologize for his intemperate remarks. And Steve Killian, president of the Cambridge Police Patrol Officer's Association demanded an apology to all police personnel, "The president should make an apology to all law enforcement personnel throughout the entire country who took offense to this."

Indeed, what could be more intemperate than saying that the police acted "stupidly" in arresting someone for being in his own home without proper police authorization. It's a good thing that members of the Republican party are never given to criticism or hyperbole in their public statements. But the legitimacy of these criticisms notwithstanding, this criticism of Obama is too narrow. Demands that Obama apologize to all police officers in America is far too narrow. After all, if one must apologize to all police officers for criticizing a single police officer, it must also be true that Obama should apologize not only to all carbon-based lifeforms, since Officer Crowley was clearly carbon-based, but to all physical objects in the entire universe since Crowley is also a physical object that occupies part of the universe.

One might think that this response is extreme, that Obama clearly has no need to apologize personally to the occupants of Deneb 7 (should there be such a place), but the logic is inexorable. Whenever you criticize one member of a class of individuals, you have, by extension, criticized every member of that class.

So, the ball is in Obama's court. Will he personally apologize to every physical object in the universe? Or is he a pusillanimous cad who will not take responsibility for his statements? I look forward to increased funding for manned space flight.

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