The Prof. Gates v. the Cops Affair

The story ends: “…As the elders used to tell us, it is about believing things aren’t always going to be this way.” (Denver Post, July 24, 2009, p. 4B) What way? Profiling by the police power. Another word for stereotyping. Another word for jumping to conclusions. Another word for cultural ignorance, especially unacceptable, intolerable and offensive in those trained and hired to keep the peace and watch out for and guard against criminal acts.

The distinguished, Harvard professor of Black Studies was trying to get into his own home. The neighbor reported it as breaking and entering. The neighbor did not know who his neighbor was. Huh!? The cops arrived and arrested the professor, who resisted arrest in his own home. (About that, we do not have the full story at this point.) Pres. Obama said the cops acted “stupidly”, which I believe was a mistake on the President’s part. He said he did not have all the facts, but he proceeded to jump to an evaluative conclusion, and should be rightly criticised for it. HE who pursued legislation in Illinois regarding racial profiling by policemen! I think he, as an American black man, responded to the racial ramifications of “the black experience” before his discipline as a law professor kicked in. A very significant distinction!

I saw immediately the inconsistency because I have an eye for culture. And I cringed for the President. He ain’t perfect. That black experience is a powerful element in American society. It will not always be that way, as the elders hope. What will change it?

What is civilization’s major means of change? War? Punishment? Education? Democratic societies opt for education, and to the point here, education in cultural studies. (See my other blogs whose url links are on the right side blogroll of this post.) But you will not find such studies in American basic education.

I wish I had the transcript of the dialog and action at the professor’s house. I could disassemble it as an object lesson in intercultural communication and the law.

Everyone living in this so-called “melting pot” (notatall! little cultural flavoring has melted and blended!) needs an eye for culture. Especially policemen! And anyone interacting in a heated situation involving the police.

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