the case of Henry Louis Gates: race in America, rampant & ironic prejudice, and the connection of Obama's unfortunate remarks to federal health caree
The police report and the story of "the photo" is provided here (hat tip: Linda Christiansen)...
A lot has been said about this, but let me provide some value-added from the viewpoint of a Labor economist:
-The base of prejudice is a lack of information. The term itself means to "pre-judge", implying that someone is making a decision with too little information. At times, such decisions are necessary-- and hopefully, people do the best they can with the info they have. At other times, there is an unnecessary rush to judgment.
-In a moment of crisis-- in this case, both Gates dealing with the police and the police dealing with him-- agents make important decisions. But in judging the events from the outside, looking into the past and with less-than-ideal info, people have been unnecessarily quick to rush to prejudicial judgments. The irony here is greatest among those who pre-judge by accusing the police of discrimination, basing their inferences on limited info and a lack of humility in forming and publicly sharing those inferences.
-The funniest and most revealing example is President Obama's now-famous over-reach in his "word choice" at his presser. Funny-- again, given its irony. Surprising in that he is usually so careful (often painfully so) with his words. Revealing-- in what he thinks about race and what he thinks about his powers of assessment. Odd-- in that he is supposed to be the chief law enforcement officer whose default should be to support the police. Sad-- in that he will not apologize for creating and then stepping in a steaming pile of dung, harming rather than advancing race relations in the U.S.
-The connection to health care? Obama believes that a federal solution is the best way to handle local problems. He has faith in government and his own powers of discernment-- and correspondingly, far less faith in markets, local decision making, and the intellect of others. Instead of deferring to the local experts who knew more about the situation, Obama presumed to be able to speak with expertise to a situation in which he had far too much ignorance. In health care, he presumes the same thing.