July 31, 2009 10:23:13 am
In an effort to douse down a racial firestorm,US President Barack Obama had a glass of beer with professor Henry Gates and police Sergeant,who had arrested the Harvard professor for ‘disorderly conduct’.
Sitting along a picnic table next to the White House’s new swing set,the three were yesterday seen drinking beer from clear glass mugs along and munching peanuts and pretzels served in small silver bowls.
As a later addition,Obama also invited the Vice President,Joe Biden,to what the US media has characterised as the beer summit.
The momentous occasion was part of Obama’s effort to calm down the racial firestorm which erupted following the arrest of Gates by Henry Crowly,to which the US President added fuel to the fire by stating that the police acted ‘stupidly’.
The controversy that included the offended white police officer and the leading black scholar,who also happened to be an old friend of the President,quickly spiralled into a national issue sparking a fierce debate on racial profiling by law enforcement.
Obama,however,later backed off from his remarks,and making a surprise appearance at the daily White House Press conference acknowledged that he made a wrong choice of words.
Sitting along the table Obama opted for Bud Light,while Biden went for Bucker; Gates took Sam Adam Light and Crowley grabbed Blue Moon. Bucker is a non-alcoholic beer.
While Gates and Crowley wore dark suits,Obama and Biden were in white shirts,jackets off. Obama had his sleeves rolled up.
During the brief moment,the press was given a rare opportunity to have a glimpse at the “teachable moment” in the words of Obama; Crowley was seen doing most of the talking. Gates appeared to be listening intently.
At one point Obama laughed heartily. Both Gates and Crowley brought their families to the White House and they toured the East Wing together before the sit-down. Gates brought his kids,fiancee and father. Crowley brought his wife and kids. They met Obama in the Oval Office before moving out into the Rose Garden.
For the past few days the issue has dominated the US media,with a section of them even calling it as a beer summit. Earlier in the day,Obama told reporters that he objected to it.
“It’s a clever term,but this is not a summit,guys,” Obama said. Hours before the anticipated meeting,Obama said he is “fascinated with the fascination about this evening.”
It’s three folks “having a drink at the end of the day,” and giving themselves a chance to “listen to each other,” he said. The goal is to lower the temperature on an event that has become “so hyped and so symbolic.” It is to reduce the “anger and hyperbole,” and promote “self-reflection,” he said.
At the end of the meeting,Obama in a statement thanked Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley for joining him at the White House this evening for a friendly,thoughtful conversation.
“Even before we sat down for the beer,I learned that the two gentlemen spent some time together listening to one another,which is a testament to them,” Obama said.
“I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart. I am confident that has happened here tonight,and I am hopeful that all of us are able to draw this positive lesson from this episode,” said the US President.
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