Phi Beta Cons

Massachusetts Burning (Out)

Henry Louis Gates contines to behave disgracefully and without dignity. He is taking advantage of his status to go before audiences to call the respected and conscientious Sergeant Crowley, who taught racial profiling at the police academy and who was trying to protect Gates’s house, a “rogue cop.” Gates is also saying that as a white man, Crowley couldn’t stand seeing a black man standing up for his rights. This is an outrage. Gates is embroidering an incident in which he behaved boorishly — “out of control,” as one of the witnesses outside of the house put it — into a racist fantasy out of Mississippi Burning. (He also sounds a little odd as he says these things, as if he knows he’s faking, using the academic language of race inappropriately in a real-life situation.)

 

Now the black policeman who was on the scene has corroborated that Gates was acting erratically and was declaring that this is what happens when a white woman calls the police, a black man gets arrested. (But Gates has gone out of his way to appear to be thanking the woman for her alertness.)     

 

Gates and his lawyer, Harvard professor Charles Ogletree, should realize how bad they look — men to whom much has been given behaving like spoiled children, trying to pump this up in order to aggrandize themselves. And the fact that they are using this to rile up black men everywhere, to encourage them to see their own difficulties with the police in Gates’s manufactured situation, is unconscionable. They are not only trying to con white America but black America as well. And they have emerged as arrogant elitists at odds with America’s working-class first responders, who are of all races and put themselves on the line every day.  

 

And lo and behold. Ogletree is now putting out that the problem was not racial profiling — as Gates has been loudly proclaiming from the getgo — it’s that Sergeant Crowley should have been more polite. The issue of race was injected, Ogletree says, when the 911 call about two black intruders was made. No, the issue was injected when Gates accused the white policeman of being racist.  

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