I was walking in downtown Berkeley this evening and a young black teen came up behind me carrying a ghetto-blaster playing so loudly that the music was distorted — even he couldn’t have been enjoying it. I turned and glared at him, and as he walked by he very pleasantly wished me a good evening. I said, “Do the rest of us HAVE to hear that?” He couldn’t hear me (of course), and asked me to repeat it. He didn’t answer, but as he walked on, the volume went down, down, then off.
That’s not the civility I’m talking about. (Although I was surprised and pleased at his response.) As he receded, I saw that he was wearing an enormously oversized “Yes We Can!” shirt. So — had he NOT acceded to my request — I now know what to say: “Do you think Obama would do that?” We have a new role model – and not just for young black men! — a much-admired man of graciousness and civility.