wtf? – No doubt by now you will have read that Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested a couple of days ago for being black in America. Many of the finer points of the incident are under a cloud, but the widely accepted factoids are that he and his driver were seen trying to get his front door unstuck from his Cambridge home. When the Cambridge Police responded the 58 years old professor suffering from an illness and walking with a cane was arrested on his front porch and booked for disorderly conduct and ‘tumultuous behavior’ (is this an actual crime?.) From there on in it gets deep, the sympathetic accounts have Prof Gates being accosted in his home by a belligerent cop, the ‘this-isn’t-about-race’ crowd have the professor storming after the cop out onto his front lawn hurling racial profiling epithets in view of a crowd of other armed lawmen. The truth is only known to both men and both have reason to slant it to their own benefit. Prof. Gates was duly provoked and no doubt pushed the confrontation as far as possible, because no good would come from allowing even the slightest incident of everyday racism to stand, as the world only pays attention to egregious incidents. As for the Cambridge police officer who didn’t recognize an eminent 20 year Cantabrigian (fercrissakes, even I know what he looks like!) Regardless of Gate’s demeanor, when presented with 2 photo ids the cop should have given the man the benefit of the doubt in his own living room and left. Needless escalation never works out well, making him guilty of some really bad decision making under pressure and for a man carrying a gun, that’s never good.
No doubt we won’t have heard the end of this….there will be days of talking head commentary anti-racism teach-ins, Op-Eds and essays, and at least one book, but most definitely a painfully long and costly civil suit, resulting in some Cambridge PD regime change and at least one Policeman is going to be looking for a job flipping burgers at Dennys.