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If you just broke into your own home by forcing open the front door, and then the police showed up to investigate after receiving a call from a passerby that two men wearing backpacks broke into your home, would you:
A) Explain the situation and thank the police for trying to protect your home from potential burglars, or
B) Rant and rave and call the police racists.
I'd pick option A, but it seems that Henry Louis Gates Jr. chose option B. Oh, excuse me. I mean HARVARD BLACK SCHOLAR Henry Louis Gates Jr. chose option B. I've yet to read a news report that didn't refer to Gates as a Harvard black scholar, as if that is somehow supposed to make a difference in the events that took place.
Gates, the Harvard black scholar, accused the police of racial profiling. If you ask me, this brings Gates' scholarly reputation into serious question. The police didn't pull Gates' car over at random on the highway to hassle him because he was black. THAT would have been racial profiling. No, the police were responding to a call, to a potential crime. The police went to Gates' house, in effect, to protect Gates and his possessions. That's what the police do. That's their job. Protect and serve. The police asked Gates to produce identification to prove he was who he said he was. No problem there, either. What were the police supposed to do, just take Gates' word for it and leave ? They'd pretty much have to be the dumbest police in the world to do that. Even Mayberry Deputy Barney Fife wasn't that dumb. Barney would have asked for ID.
That's as far as I can go with the facts, because I don't know exactly what happened after that. I wasn't in Gates' house, so I have no way of knowing. We have conflicting testimony from the parties involved. Gates thinks the police were being racist, and the police say they were following protocol and Gates was being disorderly. Gates ended up being arrested for disorderly conduct. The charges were later dropped. All I'll say about that is, if I'm the police, I'm going to do everything I can to calmly extricate myself from what was nothing but a misunderstanding. If I'm Gates, ditto. Obviously, that didn't happen.
What is instructive here is how liberal knees automatically jerked toward blaming the police (the liberal default position), even without command of all the facts. That knee jerking worked it's way all the way up to liberal numero uno, President Barack Obama, who said the police "acted stupidly" in the Gates case. Obama used the Gates incident to launch into a riff about how blacks and Latinos are treated unfairly by the police.
I've known for a long time not to hassle the police. Things won't go well for you if you do. If you hassle them long enough, you'll end up in handcuffs, just like Gates did. It doesn't matter what color you are. I'm white, and I can attest to that fact personally (don't ask, cuz I'm not telling). If you are out of control, they will put you under control. That's part of their job too, and it's not easy. I wouldn't want to do their job. My default position is to respect the police. I guess that's one of many reasons I'm not a liberal. I'm suspicious of people who view the police as the enemy. The enemies of the police are commonly known as "criminals."
Not that I'm saying Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a criminal. He isn't. That situation just spun out of control. If I had to offer an opinion, I'd say it was Gates who was a victim of his own prejudices, not the police. Gates is sticking with his racial profiling story, no matter how inappropriate, and wants to make a PBS documentary about it. The police know better. The black officer on the scene at Gates' arrest confirms that. He supports the actions of the cops. So does the police union. President Obama even knows that he spoke out of turn. Obama said he "could have calibrated those words differently." (Don't you love politi-speak ? Why can't Obama just say "I'm sorry" like a normal person ?) White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has decided to blame the media's "obsession" for keeping the story going (translation - Obama looks bad, so the White House wants the story to go away. If Obama had looked good on this issue, he'd be making an hour long speech on race relations on primetime television about it).
But at least Gates' arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, might get to have a beer with the two Ivy Leaguers, Obama and Gates. I'm sure they can tell Crowley all about racial profiling, even though Crowley teaches a class about it.
Update 7/27/09 - A copy of the police report of Gate's arrest is online now. It makes Gates look like an pompous jerk.