Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. from Harvard University recently created a kerfuffle when he characterized a police officer from a Massachusetts community as engaging in racial profiling. The President of the United States followed up in support of the Professor by characterizing the Police Department of Cambridge, Massachusetts as having “…acted stupidly…”
The facts of the incident are still coming in. However, one might ask where the legitimacy of the accusations of the President and the Professor are derived? Could it be our anti-Republican culture?
Certainly there are societal factors at play, but Professor Gates works at an institution that values racial diversity. His home is in a community whose mayor has dark skin tone. He lives in a state whose governor has dark skin tone. It would seem that his concern for racial profiling would have to arise from some inner set of perceptions that are not offset by the societal circumstances.
Similarly, the President’s characterization of the Cambridge Police Department must come from some inner perception that is not necessarily based on the facts of this specific situation. It might also be that in his mind, this incident rises to the level of outrage that necessitates a person such as the President of the United States to speak out.
Back in the 1950s, Rosa Parks took a stand against racial profiling in Montgomery, Alabama. At the time, her only protection was the Constitution of the United States.
Nowadays, our culture has shifted to the point where we have training classes that celebrate racial diversity and teach ways to avoid profiling of any sort. With that degree of change already in place, why does our culture leap to support charges of racism, both veiled and direct?
I think it is because we are in the process of elevating political power above Constitutional power.
When Professor Gates makes his accusation, he is not relying on the Constitution to back him; he is relying on a political party. He knows that racism is perceived to reside only in Republicans, and that charges of racism benefit his political beliefs. It is his source of power and authority.
The President’s reaction to all of this bears watching. He has a sworn obligation to the Constitution of the United States, and must be careful to avoid elevating his political beliefs above his responsibility to the Constitution.
Luckily for the President, it is Sgt. Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department who is most at risk. The outcome of this incident will most certainly impact Sgt. Crowley’s reputation and his career.
And Sergeant James Crowley is like Rosa Parks. He must look to the Constitution for his protection.
The Boston Globe reports that racial profiling was not involved in the arrest of Professor Gates.
It takes a long time for these facts to come out (over one year) and when they do, our anti-Republican culture makes sure they are not afforded front-page prominence. You can almost hear some of the readers of the Globe growling, "They may have gotten away with it this time, but I know those Republicans are racists!"
(H/T Opinion Journal)