Saturday, July 25, 2009
Deja Vu Again
Wasn't going to join the feeding frenzy about the renown Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., getting arrested in his own house by the Cambridge police for disorderly conduct because, quite frankly, there is nothing unusual about a black man in America finding himself on the wrong end of police conduct. What distinguishes this situation from others that happen all over America is that Gates is the most preeminent African American intellectual of his generation and, as such, should have been impugn from the indignities suffered by his less fortunate brethren. But with President Obama going off script and weighing in ("the police behaved stupidly") and then moonwalking away from his statement (he calls it recalibration) and inviting the principals - Gates and Sgt. Crowley - for a couple of beers, the scenario is becoming increasingly familiar. First, there is an incident that reminds us of America's sordid past in race relations - the Bush administration's bungling of Katrina damaged New Orleans, the idiotic Don Imus' nappy-headed hos comment, O.J. Simpson's trial-of-the-century, the L.A. police's beating of Rodney King, the brutal dragging death of James Byrd, black and Hispanic kids being uncereminously disinvited from a private Philadelphia swimming pool, etc. Then the wiser heads among us reflexively come forth and call for a conversation and/or dialogue about race (Obama deems it a "teachable moment"). For a few days or perhaps a week or two, there is a lot of back and forth that presumably passes for dialogue or conversation, and then the whole thing recedes and it is back to business as usual. Excuse my cynicism but I find myself suffering from a severe case of fatigue.