It's not very often I blame the media for the problems we face as a society. However when their actions are blatant, as in the Gates/ Crowley affair, we have no choice.
Why has this event in Cambridge escalated to a debate about race in America?
It is a simple scenario. The media would have us believe a professor jimmied a door to get into his home. The police showed up and attempted to discern if the professor belonged there or not. The professor promptly showed ID and calmly explained he was the owner. The cop then handcuffed him, threw him in a cop car and off they went?
While I was not there, I imagine the professor was tired, agitated and a bit jetlagged from a long trip home from the Orient. The police show up to assure he is not a burglar. He shows ID and starts popping off to the officers, refusing to cooperate. One account claims the professor replied to an officer "I will talk to your momma outside" after being asked to step outside to talk.
The tension grows, the professor gets more belligerent and the whole scene is out of control. According to news reports, a black officer on the scene confirmed the arrest was warranted. Why is the color of everyone's skin even mentioned?
This would have been the outcome no matter the professor's skin color. But an embarrassed professor who forgot his keys immediately claims racism. How about admitting he was an idiot for forgetting his key and was employing a very unusual method of entering his home? How about being grateful to the cops for checking out what appeared to be a crime?
A few years back I was repairing an outside light at night in the front yard of my Phoenix suburb home. All of a sudden I heard the squeal of a tire and saw a police car with light flashing heading in my direction. An officer jumped out of the car and asked me to show him ID. I promptly accommodated.
Unfortunately, we had recently moved so the address on my license did not match my new address. After 10 minutes the officer established it was my home and proceeded to tell me there had been a number of recent burglaries and he wanted to make sure I was not a criminal.
I suppose if I picked apart how the officer talked to me or how he assumed I was up to no good, I could find some fault that would trip him up. However, I was grateful that he was keeping my community safe and doing his job. And I would expect that if I started acting belligerently, he would have arrested me – not because of my skin color but because of my threatening attitude.
There were many opportunities for me to get in his face and let him know, "who I was." Or I could have threatened him with attorneys if he didn't just leave me alone, but I have respect for law enforcement. I would have never thought to talk about his momma or challenge his authority. He has a badge and a gun, but, more importantly, he has been charged with the authority to keep our town safe.
The bottom line is when any citizen appears to be breaking the law it is incumbent on the officers to do their job and assure the community they serve that the law has not been broken. It is incumbent on the citizen to cooperate in that process. We need to take personal responsibility for our actions and not blame everyone else.
Don't forget your keys, professor, and this would have never happened.
I hope in the future officers who put their lives on the line every day are afforded the respect they deserve. If the professor had thanked the officers for protecting his home and was respectful to that process, do you think he would have been arrested? We all know the answer is no.
So let's get past the race issue and move on to personal responsibility. That means abiding by the law and assuming the best out of those who keep the peace. The professor owed that to the officers. These officers were confronted with the content of his character, not the color of his skin. And his skin color does not allow him to argue with a policeman. While he might think it does, he is wrong.
Police officers should continue to react to these types of situations with the same protocol used in this case. If there is a lesson in all this, as Mr. Obama apparently wants there to be, let's make it about respect and personal responsibility – not racism. Claiming racism should not dismiss bad behavior.
And while the media will continue to talk about a black professor, a white cop, a Hispanic officer and a black officer, this is about law enforcement in America – enforcement that requires cooperation and respect from all Americans.
Back To Commentary Archives | More Commentary @ WND.com Archives