Class Warfare in America

Just when most Americans were beginning to feel that we had reached a significant milestone in our racial history, we must confront the story of the professor, the police officer and the president of the United States.

That’s right, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and President Barack Obama thought it appropriate to insult and mischaracterize an entire profession after Cambridge, Mass., police responded to a burglary at the professor’s home.

Many are baffled, because one has to wonder what the police were supposed to do; should they just assume that any black person who seems to be breaking into Dr. Gates’s house is, in fact, Dr. Gates?

Then, if his house were to actually get robbed, he’d be crying racism because the police didn’t investigate and that all blacks look alike to them, etc., etc. As it was, they responded to the call, and seeing that, as in any potential robbery, their lives were at stake, were going to take every available precaution. By the time they would have learned of Gates’s identity I’m sure he’d already have put any sailor to shame with the inundation of insults he would have heaped on them.

Despite Gates’s conduct, which we can only assume was deplorable, it was a lack of judgment on behalf of Officer Crowley to arrest him because of his verbal abuse. The officer should have understood the circumstances and how the arrest would lead to an international media feeding frenzy. While it does remind the country that no one is above the law, is it worth the consequences of having to revisit the conversation of race in America for the world to see?

What has gone underreported is the class issue in this unfortunate case. Many people of privilege feel disdain for police officers and for some reason have convinced themselves that officers of the law should look the other way when it involves their behavior and actions. They don’t care to understand the risk police officers endure daily to uphold our laws. This is a disturbing mindset, given the example of how everyday law-abiding Americans generally respect and cooperate with police officers in similar situations.


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