Saturday, July 25, 2009
Professor Gates And the Cambridge, MA Police Matter
The dispute between Henry Louis Gates and arresting Officer Crowley took an uptick when President Obama joined the fray. Now, legions of cops are lending their support to Officer Crowley in light of all the heat he is taking.
What the media is missing are the true issues that are going on here: Gates' lack of civility to the Officer and the American rebuttable presumption of black guilt. Had these two factors not been at play in the incident, there would likely have been no arrest and no explosion into a larger debate on race.
Professor Gates is a man of high esteem. He therefore likely has a bit of a chip on his shoulder that rubbed the investigating officer the wrong way. Any one with common sense understands that an officer has considerable discretion to arrest or grant a warning. If you insult or show disrespect to an officer, you will likely be arrested when the officer could have used discretion to not arrest you.
As for Officer Gates, he is American, born and bred, and he likely embodies the notion that blacks represent a criminal risk higher than that of whites. For those Americans without keen skills of discernment, like the neighbor who called the police when she saw a "black man" (Gates) fumbling on Gates porch, ANY black man is a criminal risk, not just the obvious ones.
Officer Gates extra scrutiny of the black Gates and Gates' arrogance that he was somehow immune to the extra scrutiny gave rise to this matter.
Both men are digging their heels in and maintain the error of the other party.
Yes, America does still have an obsession with caste and stereotype. To the extent that we deny it exists is the extent we will be disappointed when incidents like this rear their heads.
Oh yes; President Obama, stick to health care reform and the economy. You should not be in the weeds on issues of this nature!