Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Incident on Ware Street

By now everyone has heard something about what happened in Cambridge between Sgt James Crowley and Professor Henry Gates. There is a story in The Crimson and one in The Herald. The Smoking Gun has the arrest report. Now we can listen to the911 Tapes. The Professor gave an interview to the magazine that he founded. The Sergeant was interviewed by a radio talk show host. The Mayor of Cambridge held a press conference. The Patrolmen’s union came out in support of the Sergeant. The Governor was quoted as saying that this was every black man’s night mare.

It was a local story until President Obama commented on it after an exceedingly boring news conference about healthcare. A fire storm of controversy ensued with the nation dividing into the all too familiar camps which set about using this incident to prove their preexisting narratives. Today is ten days after the incident. Much has been said and written and video taped and broadcast about this story. All the ancillary details have been examined. It rages across the news today even after the President has invited both men to the Whitehouse for a beer and a reconciliation.

What have we learned? Race is still a hot button issue in America? Only Martian invaders could fail to see the truth of that. All Americans live with the problems of race everyday. We are all diminished by what has become know as the “original sin” of our Nation. Have we learned anything about our President? No he acted like a friend would. Wouldn’t any of us think it was stupid for the police to arrest a trusted friend over a matter of miscommunication? Are we adding to the case that we are becoming a post racial society? No, we are not, check the comment on the articles I linked to above and you will read some startlingly racist posts. You can imagine what there is to see at less professional news sites. Does it prove that our police are no longer the brutes that beat Rodney King? No, Sgt Crowley seems an exemplary officer but he is outnumbered by the heavy handed, thuggish, and out right corrupt members of his profession. What does this teach us about Professor Gates? Nothing, we all have acted badly at the exact wrong time. It is a universal part of the human condition.

So where does that leave us? Will it change in my son’s lifetime so that we can be united as one people? I am a religious man and I have never read in the Bible were Jesus divided the people of creation by race. John 3:16. We all must work to improve race relations in America. We must move beyond the injustices of the past and reject those that would trap us in interracial conflict for another generation. We owe that debt to our children and to ourselves.

No comments: