President Obama’s comment during a Wednesday, July 22 national press conference that “the Cambridge police acted stupidly” during a July 16 arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., a black Harvard University professor, is a matter of speaking before understanding the facts.
Whether the Cambridge police accepted appropriately is not the issue as it relates to Obama’s comment. No U.S. President should speak publically without knowing the facts. When a President, particularly one as popular as Obama, makes a statement, it takes on tremendous credibility for much of the population. Such a remark is dangerous in that it may sway people’s views and potentially ignite a fire storm of misunderstanding, debate and criticism, as is currently the situation.
The lesson for President Obama and for all of us is to get the facts before offering an opinion. All too frequently people state their views without taking the time to understand the issues. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t say anything.