Normally, I refrain from speaking on national issues, as others do it much better. But as a mixed-race (black/white) person with a university degree in African-American Studies, and a writer who has written about and spent a lifetime thinking about race relations, I feel compelled to comment on the recent arrest and media hoopla over Harvard University Professor, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. What spurred this comment was specifically President Obama’s characterization of the arrest as “stupid.”
Like Mr. Obama, I was not there at the time of the incident. Unlike Obama, I am not a friend of Gates. But there are some important facts that have to be considered. One is that there was a break-in at the residence within recent weeks. Two, Dr. Gates, who was not a longtime resident of the neighborhood, and his driver were observed trying to force open the front door. Three, a neighbor, seeing what she thought was a break-in, called the cops to report it. Four, when the cops arrived, Professor Gates, instead of cooperating with basic questions, upbraided the cop inside and outside his home to the extent the officer felt impelled to arrest him.
“Why, because I’m a black man in America?” Gates allegedly said to the Cambridge, Mass. cop, Sgt. James Crowley, who responded to the call, when Crowley asked to see Gates’ identification.
Apart from the fortunate fact that Gates lives in a neighborhood with extremely prompt police response time, his accusation (and President Obama’s echo) that the cop was naturally in the wrong seems to be playing the joker as the race card.
Instead of cooperating with Officer Crowley, an instructor in a police academy racial profiling course, and a guy who seems like a good person, Professor Gates reacted with extreme belligerence.
“Why, because I’m a black man in America?”
No, Professor, because you were a criminally disorderly a*#hole in America, even if you do work for Harvard and are a friend of the President.
That’s what I think.