Commentary Magazine


Contentions

No Right to Victimhood

Given that the facts didn’t quite support Obama’s teachable narrative, many liberals are now arguing in true deconstructionist style that the facts don’t matter. Eugene Robinson is left defending Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s right to be obnoxious:

But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that Crowley’s version of the incident is true — that Gates, from the outset, was accusatory, aggressive and even obnoxious, addressing the officer with an air of highhanded superiority. Let’s assume he really recited the Big Cheese mantra: “You have no idea who you’re messing with.”

Well sure, everyone can be a jerk, and the Harvard faculty likely has worse members than Gates in that respect. But Robinson misses the point. Gates can be as much of a jerk as he wants, but then he isn’t entitled to scream “Racism!” when others react — in this case (as Juan Williams pointed out) telling him to pipe down, warning him, and cuffing him for harassing a police officer. Let’s be clear: had a white professor begun the trash-talking, I feel certain that exactly the same thing would have occurred. That’s why most of us don’t behave that way when we interact with police.

You see, now Robinson and Gates are defending the right, not to be free of racial-profiling (there wasn’t any) or police brutality (there wasn’t any), but the right to be obnoxious and throw the “racism” card when events don’t go down well. It is what James Taranto calls “the reverse Rosa Parks.” Parks used her immense dignity to make a moral point and challenge an unjust law. Gates used his standing as a Harvard professor to first condescend to a cop (“Do you know how I am?”) and then to fan the flames of racism (“There haven’t been fundamental structural changes in America. . . . The only black people who truly live in a post-racial world in America all live in a very nice house on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue”).

As James Taranto notes:

When Rosa Parks was arrested, Henry Louis Gates Jr. was 5. Skip ahead 53½ years, and we find Gates under arrest for disorderly conduct at his home in Cambridge, Mass. A passerby who did not know him had called 911 when she saw him trying to force open the door to his house. It was not the only case of mistaken identity that afternoon. When the cops arrived to investigate what they thought was a burglary, Gates mistook Sgt. James Crowley for Jim Crow. Gates antagonized Crowley, in what one might term an act of uncivil disobedience.

So if you want to find the Rosa Parks in this, you need look no further than this video, a moving interview with Crowley’s fellow cops. In eloquent terms, two African-American officers explain that this was not an instance of racial-profiling or police misconduct but of a rush to judgment by Gates, the president, and the governor. The female officer is blunt — although an Obama supporter, she won’t be voting for him again after this performance. No, the eloquent and admirable ones in this case are the police officers, not the Harvard professor who tried to claim the mantle of victimhood.

Gates, Obama, and Crowley will all be at the White House on Thursday for their beer in an event that will be covered endlessly by the media. (Note that at least two more days of the news cycle will be devoted to this rather than to health-care reform.) Crowley, we are told, has taught some classes on racial-profiling. Maybe he can share his wisdom (and that of his impressive colleagues with his beer-drinking mates) about jumping to conclusions, treating their fellow citizens with respect, and avoiding hackneyed stereotypes (“White Boston cops are racists”). Let’s hope the president has the class to apologize to Crowley to his face — and then admit to the country that he acted very stupidly.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.