Friday, July 31
Beer with me a moment
I've been following the ongoing drama of Henry Louis Gates versus the white establishment.... also known as The Man without much real interest. Until President Obama took sides during a press conference and diminished himself just a tad. This is the man that is supposed to remain calm and collected during tense times and yet can't manage to keep a semblance of objectivity on the matter. Granted, I expected him to come down on one side or the other; and since Professor Gates is a friend, I was sure which side that might be. Unfortunately, the president can't afford the luxury of publicly taking sides. This situation was really not something requiring presidential input... especially at this stage. Being president means knowing when to hold your tongue or parse your words, and remembering the power your opinion might have.
He saved himself by admitting his error and setting up the, now famous, beer summit to help ease the tension between the arresting officer and the professor. Well done, President Mouth.
Which leads me to my opinion... Which I can give because I am not the president. Does anyone besides me see this whole drama as more about ego/pride and ego/testosterone than race? I understand the historical and social aspects behind Professor Gate's view of how things went down; I also understand the high risk of being a policeman. Still, it all seemed to be a case of Don't you know who I am! How dare you! versus If you keep giving me lip, I'm gonna haul your ass downtown!
I believe that not all policemen are racists. I do believe that they are in a high-stress job that often gives them a very short fuse when dealing with those that they are supposed to be serving and protecting. This might not have been the case with officer Crowley as I was not there.
I also believe that Professor Gates, as a black man, has lived his life with the reality of racism and is right to be suspect of authority (we all should be but he has far more reason to). Being confronted by such authority in his own home would make his fuse just as short.
Can't this be a case of short fuses rather than race? Maybe I am naive to hope that this was the case.