Sunday, April 02, 2006

McKinney video, fisked

Wonkette has put a video online, apparently an excerpt from a documentary, in which Cynthia McKinney supposedly demonstrates police racism. The video clip starts with McKinney on the street corner in front of a House office building, where she is greeted by a black policeman who recognizes her, shakes her hand and hugs her.
POLICEMAN: Welcome back!
McKINNEY: Thank you!
POLICEMAN: God bless you.
McKINNEY: Thank you very much.
Cut. Footage resumes after McKinney has crossed the street onto the Capitol grounds and is pointing out security measures added since the 9/11 attack.
McKINNEY: See, all of this is new. All of this concrete, and the flowers -- which are a fancy barricade -- the guard shack …
Now a white policeman comes out of the guard post and addresses McKinney and her companions.

POLICEMAN: Who are you guys with?
POLICEMAN: Who are you guys with?
FRIEND: Who is she with? Congresswoman.
POLICEMAN: I’m sorry …

At this point, the policeman makes a gesture with his right hand. He may be waving them on, but look closely at his hand. For a second, he makes a gesture kind of like he’s holding a video camera. It seems to me he might have been wondering why a video crew is strolling up to the Capitol unannounced. So his question -- “Who are you guys with?” -- might have meant, “What network/production crew are you with?”

There are, believe it or not, proper channels through which news organizations and film crews are authorized to conduct their business at the Capitol. It’s one thing for a tourist to go wandering onto Capitol grounds with a video camera. But what the cop at the guard post saw was a group of people in business dress, evidently doing some kind of TV news activity, and he wanted to find out if they were part of a credentialed organization, thus: “Who are you guys with?”

Notice, however, that as soon as he hears “congresswoman” -- and we presume at this point, McKinney flashed her badge -- the policeman is totally apologetic, smiling sheepishly for having failed to recognize a “Member” (as they are called in Hill-speak). The video continues …
McKINNEY: That’s just the typical kind of treatment that I receive …
POLICEMAN: I’m sorry.
McKINNEY: It’s typical. So I’m not surprised and I’m not offended.
POLICEMAN: I’m sorry.
Cut. Now McKinney is seen approaching the Capitol.

McKINNEY: Some things never change. That’s what Tupac said.

What McKinney and the video producers would have you think is that this demonstrates how, even though she is a member of Congress, she is still a victim of racism: The black policeman greets her; the white policeman hassles her. But it proves no such thing:

1. DIFFERENCES IN SECURITY -- If you’re standing on the corner across the street from the Capitol, that’s an entirely different thing, security-wise, than when you’re on the Capitol grounds walking up the driveway past the guard post --- get it? GUARD POST? -- toward the Capitol. The cop on the corner across from the Capitol is on a different duty than the guy manning the main guard post, OK?

2. LEVEL OF EXPERIENCE -- McKinney spent two years out of office after being defeated in the 2002 Democratic primary by Denise Majette. She returned to Congress in 2004. Obviously the first cop who greeted her knew her from her previous service, while the cop at the guard gate -- he seemed kind of young, didn’t he? -- did not recognize her.

3. HOW FAMOUS IS McKINNEY? -- How many members of Congress are recognizable at a glance? You might be able to recognize Harry Reid or Tom DeLay or a handful of other prominent members of Congress, but how many of you would recognize (for example) Lynn Westmoreland, Johnny Isakson or Jack Kingston? So it’s not like failure to recognize Cynthia McKinney is some horrible sin. Besides which, if you’ll look at the video, you’ll see that when the cop first questions McKinney’s party, he is a good 50 feet or more away from them. You might be able to recognize McKinney (or Barney Frank or Nancy Pelosi) if you were standing right next to them, but would you recognize them at a range of 50 or 75 feet?

4. TOTAL APOLOGY -- As soon as he saw her “Member” badge (I’m assuming she flashed it) the white cop went into total apology mode for having failed to recognize McKinney. He had goofed up and he knew it. The cops who guard the Capitol are trained to recognize members, and he was obviously embarrassed by his mistake.

What I see here is McKinney trying to make a point of her “victimhood” -- quoting Tupac -- at the expense of some poor schlub making probably 1/3 of what she makes as a member of Congress.

Knowing what I know about police hiring procedures, I imagine the cop who questioned her was ex-military, probably just a few months out of the Army or Navy, with a great sense of duty about being chosen for the honor of manning the guard post at the Capitol. He’s there to protect McKinney and everyone else, and he sees some people who look like a film crew walking up the driveway, scrutinizing the newly-added security enhancements.

So the cop asks an obvious question: “Who are you guys with?”

And what is the response? “Oh, excuse me officer, this is Congresswoman McKinney and we’re working with her on a video documentary …”

No. The response is, “Huh?”

Let me explain why a lot of people don’t get this thing with McKinney: When a cop asks me a question, my answer never has been, and is never going to be, “Huh?”

That cop has a gun on his hip for a reason. He has a badge, a billy club and handcuffs, and he is fully authorized by the power of law to enforce public order. So when a cop asks me a question, my answer is going to be expressed in terms reflective of respect and courtesy. If I don’t understand something the cop says, I say, “Excuse me, officer?”

Whatever the situation, it is always a bad idea to adopt a confrontational stance toward the police. This would seem to be especially true when you’re at the Capitol at a time when everybody’s antsy about terrorism. I often leave work late at night, and I’ve been pulled over near the Capitol by police at 1 a.m. just because I made a wrong turn and circled back past the same cop car twice. Trust me when I say, when the cop appoached my car, I didn’t make any sudden moves with my hands, and my end of the conversation was like, “Yes, sir. … No, sir. … I’m sorry, sir. … It won’t happen again, sir. … Thank you sir.”

McKinney’s own father was once a policeman, and I find it shocking that she would make a mockery of this Capitol policeman for the benefit of a video crew. The cop was just doing his job.

3/31: Who Cynthia McKinney is
3/31: "Jihad Cindy" does it again
2/17: Latest rant from "Jihad Cindy"


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