Jonathan Capehart, an editorial writer for the Washington Post, had an article yesterday entitled “The Race Dialogue We Won’t Have”. A worthy read. Then today’s editorial page has longtime Post editor Colbert King’s great piece “The Black Man at the Door”.
The title of the first article signifies the problem with thes entire situation. The fact that no one really is interested in looking at this clearly. It’s all emotion. Charges of racist cops, an uppity black professor, and how much the other side is wrong.
The second article FINALLY addresses the real problem here: that the cops were called in the first place. King points out how an acquaintence of his who happens to be black receives, as a member of a the Cleveland Park (a largely white affluent community in DC), emails notifiying him and everyone else on the list, the presence of black males in the neighborhood. This is in a city that is overall over 60% black.
The problem here is, once again, not the cops involved in these stories. The problem here is the reactions all to often that many whites have toward blacks.
Gates and some other liberal editorial writers have already decided that this was very much the case of James Crowley being a racist cop. Or that this was an actual conspiracy to denigrate an accomplished black man. Some have suggested that Gates is very famous and should be easily recognizable. That’s laughable. Before this happened, I’d say that less than 1% of America would recognize him. In a country where people barely know who their U.S. Representative is, you’re not going to find that many people outside of the intellecutal class who know what Henry Louis Gates looks like.
That’s how some on the left would naturally think, positioning this in a way that to disagree with them makes one racist. That shuts down the discussion right then and there.
The right is predictably in the other direction. Many seem to be totally ignoring the indignity of having cops come to one’s one home because, very likely, you were black and having a difficult time getting in the door. They won’t even try to understand this and other legitimate complaints African Americans have in dealing with issues like this. Or even more, they will intentionally not try to understand.
The dialogue is off. Viewpoints are hardened on either side. Intentional standoff. Blame the other side. Don’t listen. And we’re all worse off for it.
A man returning home from a trip, trying to get in his front door that’s jammed. All he wants is peace and not to be insulted by being stereotyped.
A cop doing his job, responding to a police call. Something he had to do quite often, usually for legitimate reasons and at times risking his life.
It’s time that some on the right and some on the left grew some balls and took a look at the other side for a change.