Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Different View of the Professor Gates Case

In the handful of instances when I've forced a broken lock on my house to get in, or have climbed in a window because I've forgotten my key, I'd have felt downright gratified to see police show up and confront me. That would mean they're efficiently doing their job, and would increase my confidence that a real burglar might be speedily apprehended. And if I happened to be African-American, I'd certainly not want cops holding back to avoid the appearance of racism, any more than I'd want them to hold back if an African-American real burglar ever tried to break in!

Furthermore, as a middle-aged white dude, even I know better than to mouth off to the police. If I felt officers were treating me unfairly, I might say something, but I certainly wouldn't be dumb enough to keep on belligerently venting my righteous indignation (as Prof. Gates did). That sort of thing leads to handcuffs for those of any race! Yes, it's an abuse of power, but it's one all adults know to expect. And if I happened to be African-American, I certainly wouldn't expect an exemption - hoping the police's fear of appearing racist might override their instinct to save face when an angry loudmouth won't stop haranguing them.

If the police had chosen not to investigate what reasonably looked like a break-in simply because Prof. Gates was black, that'd have been for strictly racial reasons. And if they hadn't arrested him after he wouldn't stop raging at them, that'd have been for strictly racial reasons, as well.

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