You don't have to be a Harvard prof to note the smiling hypocrisy of President Barack Obama's comments last night on racial profiling. Just hours after Obama defended his Cambridge pal Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in a presidential press conference, and spanked the Cambridge cops for acting "stupidly" in arresting the prominent African-America scholar, Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced another, massive racial profiling sweep in Maricopa County. This time it's in the Southeast Valley, and Joe has the assistance of Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.
Arpaio is conducting this racial profiling sweep with federal authority, under the umbrella of the 287(g) program, which allows MCSO deputies to act as immigration agents and question people about their residency status. This is despite a Department of Justice inquiry into Arpaio for civil rights abuses -- civil rights abuses that are a direct result of these vary same 287(g)-powered sweeps.
Arpaio's 287(g) agreement has not been suspended because of these violations. Rather, Arpaio's been offered a new agreement by Homeland Security honcho Janet Napolitano, with minor, cosmetic changes.
But judging from Obama's comments, you'd think he and Napolitano worked for two different administrations.
"What I think we know separate and apart from this incident," Obama stated of Gates' controversial July 16 arrest, "is that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact.
"When I was in the state legislature in Illinois, we worked on a racial-profiling bill, because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and Hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how race remains a factor in our society."
The assembled reporters were apparently clueless about the president's hypocrisy. Chances are they couldn't find Maricopa County on a map if their lives depended on it. As for the 287(g) program, the quickest way to get a deer-in-the-headlights look from most journos is to mention 287(g).
But from the perspective of those of us here in Ari-bama, the irony is as weighty as a lead Stetson.
"The more that we're working with local law enforcement to improve police techniques so we're eliminating potential bias, the safer everyone's going to be," Obama said.
Wonder when this enlightened attitude will trickle down to our benighted patch of 'Zona sand? Sure, most of the Hispanics rounded up over the next few days by Joe and his thugs won't be able to compete with a Harvard don who's a pal of the President. But the racial profiling will be real, and it's occurring with a wink and a nudge from the feds. Obama should be ashamed his administration continues to rubber stamp such operations by not jerking Arpaio's 287(g) authority immediately.
Janet Napolitano could do this at any time with a click of the heels on her sensible shoes. And her boss President Obama could order those heels to click.
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