By lex, on July 27th, 2009
I’ve stayed clear of l’affaire Gates, not only because, 1) the facts weren’t clear, but 2) the entire thing bores me to death. But since everyone is talking about it but the E-Trade baby, I thought it was maybe time to weigh in: Both of these people suck.
Lady does her civic and calls the cops when someone appears to be jimmying the door of someone’s residence. Cops show up. The facts are explained. Up to now, nobody gets hurt. But that’s when things get ugly.
The nation’s foremost African American scholar decides to bait a patrolman doing his duty, because he’s all “Do you know who I am?” and “Your mama” and that. The patrolman gets his beak up because he frankly doesn’t care how y’all do it at Harvard. Prof heads off to the pokey in cuffs, brays that he’s being repressed ** . The Actual President of the Whole United States of America weighs in. Unadvisedly. Cop demands an apology, and a beer. Everyone gets a “teachable moment”, but the lesson plan is tuned to individual preference.
This has less to do with race in America than class. Which, when you think about it, says something about the state of play in these United States in the 21st Century.
Look, there’s a real problem in America with racial profiling. Which is not much ameliorated by the fact that there are valid correlations between race/class and violent crime. Which has very little to do with a tenured Harvard professor in Cambridge playing the race card to mask the fact that he’s basically being a prick.
But here’s the deal: It was the dude’s own house, his very castle. He had a perfect right to howl at the moon in his foyer, so long as he wasn’t disturbing the peace or threatening violence. The whole, “Shut your suck or I’ll haul you in” thing has no place in a functioning democracy. The police officer could have de-escalated the issue by swallowing his pride and walking away. He didn’t, because the gun and the badge gave him the implicit authority, he was embarrassed and angry. Fully knowing that the whole thing was an exercise in futility while real criminals looked for real victims. The Harvard professor, for his part, got to try the victim’s mantle on for size even as real victims get hidden in the shadows of anonymity.
Like I said: They both suck.
** 09-08-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.