Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

Mad About Race Again

The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. episode in the heart of
Massachusetts’ liberal intellectualism revived latent feelings
in people of all races nationwide.

A spark set off a conflagration in the “Republic of Cambridge,” Massachusets and has all the nation up in arms, except in countries where people subjected to real race riots and even genocide are wondering what the hell we’re so upset about.

Bill Cosby said whoever wasn’t there isn’t really entitled to say much about the Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. episode, and that goes for the prez of these United States. That of course hasn’t stopped anyone with feelings overt (or hidden) regarding race. We like to think that racism has gotten up on little hind legs and departed our Extremely Tolerant society. That’s our happy little slogan, which now is shown to be just that. We talk the talk but hardly walk the walk. Even after a big fight (Civil Rights or a Civil War) we think people are too tired to go at it again, but the truth is that people love to fight and all they need is an excuse. The Clash in Cambridge was such a justification.

We would prefer of course that persons of color take all that history of rigged trials and juries, police harassment, profiled beatings and jailings, and unjustified death sentences (let’s don’t even get into slavery)–and just get over it; after all, our new-found “tolerance” is an uneasy truce that is one step away from a new civil war.

All parties at the Gates home overreacted, but Dr. Gates knew that an older white person trying to force his way into his own home would have been treated differently, and that arrival of police would have resulted in a much different conversation:

“Sir, is there anything wrong? May we help you?
“Yes, goddamit it, I couldn’t get this friggin’ door open due to all the rain and I had to force it.”
“We regret that, sir, but would you mind stepping outside here and showing us some identification: we want to make sure that the owner of this property is protected from unlawful entry, and we hope you can appreciate our situation.”
“Uh, okay, but I’m late getting in, tired and hungry and in a hurry, and hope this doesn’t take much longer.”
“Yes, sir, we understand.”
And that, of course, would have been that. Caucasians are used to law enforcement caring about their property, compared to the history of characteristically slow response to any smell of trouble in black neighborhoods. Dr. Gates is privy to all this, and he’ll never be able to surmount all racial obstacles in his life–and or even be a Harvard professor–and escape them. Too bad that this needless circumstance had to evolve into the Perfect Storm.

So police brass pulled an all-nighter, got their story straight, and lined up a big-deal press conference (couldn’t you just smell the testosterone?) to say that every cop in the world wanted to smack the U.S. president and the Mass guv upside the head and demand apologies.

Oh, please: do we really think all cops in every union and enforcement association think alike? If so, a lot of them aren’t thinking; and imagine any of them daring to disagree with the party line in that atmosphere: they could forget future raises or promotions. Law enforcement is no democracy but a top-down org and don’t think otherwise. Notice also that among the officials at the press conference there was a well-placed face or two to represent non-caucasians, but all the big shots in charge were–you guessed it, lily white.

The facts at last were these: Dr. Gates was arrested in his own home and taken away in chains. Of all the missteps by everyone, only the president of the U.S. has tried to defuse the situation–hence depriving Hannity, O’Reilly and all of FauX News of their planned century of insane rants against three black men (remember to count the guv). George Bush’s tongue would have stuck to the roof of his imperial mouth had he admitted even to second thoughts about Iraq; and Dick Cheney, on Judgment Day, has no plans to apologize to God. And the Cantabridgian Cops, had only to appear on a stage and stamp their feet.

Wow. Only in America.

It’s time to get off the backs of Gates, Cambridge’s Finest, and Obama;  learn the extra lesson and get back on the road toward social progress until we can all say we are Free At Last of the racial demon.

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