Sunday, July 26, 2009


Now the President has invited the Professor and the Policeman to the White House for a beer.

Looks like their taking him up on it.

Meanwhile, back in Cambridge, Mass., every cop and his cousin is dismissing and dissing the Pres for his outrageous nerve at calling their fellow officer stupid.

No doubt the Republican and the Fox News screamers and radio talkers are having the best time they've ever had.


W can be sure that Dr. Gates was loud and noisy and arrogant and uncooperative when the police stopped him from breaking into his own house.

We can also be sure that the Sgt. Crowley took the usual cop stance - equally arrogant and righteous and demanding.

Neither man worked very hard at defusing a silly and ridiculous moment that could have easily ended differently.

"Please show me something that identifies you with this property, Sir."

And Obama didn't help by wandering into an already sensitive incident with the word "stupid" at the ready. Which he has admitted.

But you know what?

All of this, including Obama's off the cuff, not very wise, honesty has brought focus and attention to a central problem in American public life - racial profiling.

Both Obama and Henry Louis Gates have had the experience. As have millions of black Americans.

When I hear the police high on their righteous horses in this story, I can only feel, "Methinks the lady doth protest too much."


I was sitting at a sidewalk cafe. Imagine! A difficult job, yes...

A tent walked by.

A beige stiff and starched draped tent.

Only a slit for the eyes.

A woman's eyes, I had to guess.

I do have a brain. And that brain not only offers the power of reason, it is all the repository of much stored information.

So, later, after my initial shock and horror and disgust wore off, I was able to put my book down on the table and think about how people have a right to practice their religion, I guess...

But there is no question that my gut reaction was shock and horror and disgust and a deep anger about subjecting women to the roles and rituals that define them as chattels.

It is also the right and privilege and yes, even duty, of people who immigrate to Canada to maintain their homeland virtues while adopting to what likes to think of itself as a modern democracy.

My family did just that. Coming from Russia at the turn of the last Century, we spoke English on the street, mostly Yiddish in the house, went to both public schools and synagogue and somehow straddled the old and the new, making subtle shifts and compromises of one kind or another as we went along. Canadians, but Jews. Jews and Canadians. Nowhere did we identify ourselves as "Russian-Jewish Canadians." Who knew from hyphens?

All of this has come to mind now that the mother, father and brother of a family in Kingston have been charged with the murder of three of their daughters and their "auntie," who it turns out is actually the first barren wife of the accused father.

The more you read about this case - and it is in all your newspapers and websites - and the more you realize that there is a very strong chance that this is about ancient religious beliefs and practices, the more you ask yourself about our immigration processes.

Do we really ask anything of anyone? Do we point out that killing your daughter because she is dating some drip about whom you don't approve just isn't a "go" in this neck of the woods. That no young women would get past the age of 14 if we succumbed to these sentiments and rationalized dreadful behaviour with holy writ?

I suppose people have the right to sail down Broadway on a hot summer day disguised as a drifting tent or anything else they fancy.

But that doesn't mean I have to like it.