July 24, 2009
Exposure: the Dark Night of Crowleygates
The initial (default) response of liberals, especially black liberals, to the Crowleygates scandal -- that because Sgt. James Crowley is white and Prof. Henry Louis Gates, jr., is black, this can only be a case of police racism or even "racial profiling" -- reaffirms a disturbing conclusion of mine from long back: With every step towards a more colorblind society, liberals instead see a mirror-image step in the opposite direction... whenever things get better, liberals see them getting worse, instead.
I have come to believe this is no coincidence. In fact, if whites and blacks (and all other minorities) actually started seeing the content of each other's character, rather than the color of each other's skin, it would devastate the march of liberalism, which depends upon helplessness and fear. Therefore, since "progressive" policy is more fundamental to the liberal worldview than mere racial harmony, any move towards colorblindness is seen as a great setback to civilization.
The net effect is that blacks are encouraged to believe increasingly risible falsehoods about "racial profiling" and "institutional racism," such as the absurdity that covert racism that can hardly be detected is worse than overt racism like Jim Crow laws. More blacks are consciously resegregating themselves socially from whites and resorting to what can only be described as "mau mauing;" and whites are now being socially (and sometimes legally) punished -- for not having a racialist viewpoint... it shows their reactionary mindsets, you understand -- their denial, their own unexamined racism!
We saw the same ugly effect during President Bill Clinton's "conversations about race" national breast-beating tour: When you put the camera on a black person and demand he talk about race, he feels tremendous pressure to dredge up real or fabricated examples of "racism" he has experienced, seen, or even just heard about -- rather than recalling the thousands of instances in which he was not treated differently or unfairly, even in situations that would surely have provoked real racism in the 1950s or 1960s. And when you put the camera on a white person and make the same demand that he expostulate on race, he experiences an almost irresistable impulse to apologize for the least infraction against political correctness... even begging forgiveness for unvocalized thoughtcrime.
Both tendencies are more marked among liberals; but even non-liberals feel the intense coercion of liberalism to see the American people as deeply, eternally, and irredeemably racist. This is terribly destructive to both minorities (especially blacks) and majorities:
- Minorities internalize the liberal myth that they can "never rise above their race," that they will never get a fair shake, that they can never succeed.
They also learn, from society, to blame every failure, from being fired to being arrested to being assaulted, on external forces beyond their control... so it's useless trying to control them by, e.g., improving their work habits, obeying the law, or picking a different, less violent crowd to hang around. This leads to a truculent, passive-aggressive apathy in some, and in others, "the rage of a privileged class," to lift the title of Ellis Cose's 1994 book. (Readers can decide for themselves which path Professor Gates chose.)
- Majorities feel like they're edging their way through a particularly dense minefield, where they must not only watch every word they say but are frequently called upon to belly-crawl for things they never did, or said, or even thought (in fact, they must apologize even for denying that they are racists).
In the minds of many liberals, "rage" has become a defense against impropriety, whether simply boorish behavior or actual criminal conduct. The first time I heard of "black rage" raised as a legal defense was when the vile and despicable William Kunstler -- lead attorney for Long Island Railroad killer Colin Ferguson (until Ferguson insisted upon representing himself) -- admitted that Ferguson had indeed shot six people to death and wounded 19 others on a commuter train in 1994; but Kunstler argued that Ferguson should be acquitted... because, as a black man, he had grown up in a "racist society" that quite understandably led to black rage. That is, Kunstler's "defense" was that Ferguson was enraged at the time he opened fire.
Who can argue with that?
During the O.J. Simpson trial at the same time, blacks almost reflexively rallied behind Simpson and accused the police of framing him, despite the mountain of evidence that Simpson was guilty. After the shameful acquittal, a black acquaintance of mine -- very moderate (though liberal), thoroughly middle-income with middle-class values and upbringing, with a good job and a talent for writing -- cheered the verdict. I asked him why, since he agreed that Simpson was probably guilty... and his answer is seared, seared in my brain. He said (this is an exact quotation), "At least a brother got away with it for once."
Two innocent people butchered due to Simpson's jealous, uncontrollable rage... but that's all right, because at least a black man managed to get away with murder! ("For once.")
Which brings us to the New York Times story linked above, relating liberal reactions to Crowleygates. The following facts are undisputed by Prof. Gates:
- Gates and another man were trying to break open the door of Gate's house;
- A concerned neighbor, thinking there was a burglary in progress, called the police;
- The police arrived in response to the call and found Gates inside his home; Gates said it was his own home, and Sgt. James Crowley demanded identification with a picture and the address;
- Gates, by his own admission, was belligerent from the start -- demanding Crowley's name and badge number immediately after showing his own ID and refusing to come outside to speak to them;
- Gates began accusing Crowley of racism for nothing more than demanding identification;
- Gates followed Crowley back out the door and onto the lawn after the initial incident was over, while Crowley was trying to leave;
- Outside, Gates continued to berate Crowley (in front of witnesses) as a racist.
Keep in mind all that inexplicable and frankly provacative, enraged, and challenging behavior of Gates; now read some of the statements gathered by the Times. They quote both black and white, but all of their interviewees appear to be liberals:
“No matter how much education you have as a person of color, you still can’t escape institutional racism,” said Keith E. Horton, a sports and entertainment lawyer in Chicago who is black. “That’s what the issue is to me....”
“It is unwise for anyone of any race to raise their voice to a law enforcement officer,” said Al Vivian, a diversity consultant in Atlanta who is black. “But the result at the end of the day is this was a man who violated no law, was in his own house, who is the top academic star at the top academic school in the nation, and he was still taken away and arrested....”
“It seems to me that Dr. Gates was simply arrested for being upset, and he was arrested for being upset because he’s a black man,” said Wayne Martin, 25, an official at the Atlanta Housing Authority, who is also black.
The way Mr. Martin described himself, he could be the very definition of a “post-racial” American. “I have children I’m trying to raise not to see race,” he said. “I’m beyond the whole black-white thing. It doesn’t matter to me.”
Yet Mr. Martin could not think of any other way than racism to explain what had happened to Professor Gates....
Sabine Charles, 37, a white cardiologist who lives in Hyde Park, is married to a black man and said that she could not count how many times people had interrupted the two over the years to ask her, quietly, “Is this man bothering you?”
“I say, ‘Guess what? He’s not! We’re actually on a romantic date, can’t you tell?’ ” she said. “Even here in this diverse area I’ve heard people say, ‘Look at those black guys coming toward us.’ I say, ‘Yes, but they’re wearing lacrosse shorts and Calvin Klein jeans. They’re probably the kids of the professor down the street.’ ” [Pardon my skepticism, but I doubt she has ever had the conversation she supposedly transcribes above.]
“You have to be able to discern differences between people,” she said, criticizing the practice of racial profiling. “It’s very frustrating....”
Mr. Vivian [the "diversity consultant" quoted above], 47, said that he had been unfairly stopped by the police in the past, but that he lived by “an unwritten code” for dealing with these incidents. And Dr. Gates certainly did not obey the code, he said.
Quiet politeness is Rule No. 1 in surviving an incident of racial profiling, he said. So is the frequent use of the word “sir....”
That there is a well-known code of behavior familiar to most minorities who are stopped by the police, Mr. Vivian said, is testament enough of a problem.
(Note the frequent confusion in this case between racism and "racial profiling" -- which makes absolutely no sense, as Gates was, in fact, the person that the neighbor saw and reported breaking into the house. He was not some unrelated person grabbed off the street merely for "driving while black," or somesuch.)
Those of us who are white, and who have ever been stopped or held by the police, could explain to Mr. Vivian (if that is his real name) that the same "code of behavior" is required by everybody who comes into contact with law enforcement -- majority and minority alike.
When I was at university, I was stopped and held on suspicion of burglary for about 45 minutes; I became the center of twelve police officers, who had arrived in eight different vehicles. Eventually, the sergeant rolled up in a station wagon -- which tells you how long ago this was -- took one look and said, "No, that's not him." Trust me on this: I behaved with exactly the "code of behavior" that Mr. V. says is "testament enough of a problem," that is, of racial profiling.
This brings up another problem in the racism narrative: Many middle-class, non-criminal blacks are unaware that the problems that occasionally beset them occasionally beset everyone, even whites. They get pulled over by a cop who seems not to have a definite purpose in mind; after some conversation, the cop lets them go... and they assume they were just profiled.
Well, they probably were: It may be a clear-cut case of auto-profiling. The cops got a call to be on the lookout for a bank-robbery suspect driving a white pickup with a license plate beginning 2S----. The police spot just such a vehicle on the freeway in the area, so they pull it over and investigate. The "investigation" comprises asking questions that any innocent person can answer logically and coherently -- such as "where are you coming from," "where are you going," and "is this your own driver's license?" -- but which criminals often have a deuced hard time answering at all. (If you don't believe it, watch a few episodes of Cops.)
What happened to Gates could happen to anybody, even to a white banker. The distinction is how Prof. Gates responded to the police contact. I assert that anybody acting as Gates did would likely have been arrested, no matter the race of the suspect or of the cop. But Gates is unaware of that fact, because he will not allow himself even to consider the possibility ("convictions make convicts," as Robert Anton Wilson was fond of saying): "It can't be true, because it would be so deflating to my ego if it were true!"
Another interviewee said: "“[T]he Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.” Oh, wait, my mistake; that wasn't an interview in the Times... that was our illustrative President.
Alas, I believe that Barack H. Obama sees himself not just as the 44th President of the United States, but as the black man in the White House. My pal and former blogboss Patterico aptly caricatured Obama's initial statement as "I’m not taking sides on the Gates arrest -- but man, did the black man get screwed yet again!"
Liberals have utterly internalized a culture of victimhood: Liberal blacks see racism lurking behind every non-black face (and cannot see it at all behind a black face, not even Jeremiah Wright); liberal whites feel overwhelming soul-killing guilt for every act of racism, real or imagined, ever committed -- even by unrelated people decades or centuries ago -- so long as the perpetrators were white.
Sadly, the liberal narrative has been pushed so hard and so suffocatingly that liberal racialism, where "everything is determined by race," has become the default position of most Americans, even non-liberals. (Just as liberal economics, from New Deal-ism to Great Society-ism to Obamism, has settled in as the default economic position of the huge bulk of Americans.)
Even for conservatives, it's hard to wriggle out from under that heavy, stifling blanket; consider that Dennis Prager has often said that he totally opposes affirmative action... except for blacks, who, after all, have been treated shamefully by us whites. He cannot seem to comprehend that the blacks whining today have by and large not been treated shamefully; and the whites feeling guilty today did not themselves have anything to do with whatever shameful treatment occurred in the past... they're feeling racial guilt, which is the internal version of collective punishment.
My own experience tells me the self-inflicted resegregation of blacks and other minorities, and the equally self-inflicted wallowing in proxy guilt by whites, has gotten worse, not better, over the past 10-15 years... so the liberal narrative is not working as advertised. However, it may well be working as covertly intended.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 24, 2009, at the time of 7:28 PM
TrackBack URL for this hissing: http://biglizards.net/mt3.36/earendiltrack.cgi/3782
The following hissed in response by: Dick E
Prof. Gates has made it his life’s work to study, teach and write about Africans and African Americans. An “unrelenting focus on black life in America” according to Hillel Italie’s AP article today.
Sgt. Crowley has dealt with confrontational situations his entire career, often involving African Americans. For several years he has taught other police officers about race relations.
Which man is more likely to have escalated a contentious encounter into a racial one?
The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman
Quiet politeness is Rule No. 1 in surviving an incident of racial profiling, he said. So is the frequent use of the word “sir....”
That there is a well-known code of behavior familiar to most minorities who are stopped by the police
That is a good mode of behavior for anyone who is stopped by the police.
Only someone metally defective gets in a shouting match with a police officer IMO
The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman at July 26, 2009 8:01 AM
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