Who Prejudged?

by Chris Bodenner

The more I read about the details of the case - as well as the overreaction of all parties involved, including Obama - the more I agree with this reader:

I’m very uncomfortable with the unspoken position that The Daily Dish has taken on the Gates issue, which is that professor Gates is the victim. Personally, as someone with a conservative disposition I believe that Harvard professors should be able to maintain composure and behave professionally even if their feelings are hurt.

Ironically, if you believe the official reports, Gates appeared to be the one who jumped to a racial conclusion - that the officer was racist - rather than the cop jumping to a racial conclusion - that Gates must be a burglar because he's black. The professor was belligerent from the very beginning and never seemed to give the cop the benefit of the doubt. (But still: arresting him?)

The reader also expresses something that is not often discussed with solemnity in society:

Beyond this immediate issue, many posts have me thinking about how many black people are frequently upset because they believe they are unfairly targeted by police officers. When this happens it is surely an indignity and I can empathize. I have run in to some nasty cops in my life and I know the helpless rage. The media give a stage to people with such complaints, which is good. But what about the daily indignities of white people?

I know you won’t print the following and I know you’ll only make more people angry if you do, but as a white man I frequently feel that I am treated with disrespect and hostility by black people. And then there have been times in my professional life when I thought black employees were behaving unprofessionally, but I was scared to say anything because I thought I’d be accused of racism. When the president of the United States defends someone who appears to have behaved like a teenager it makes me fume inside because I keep my composure when I’m treated rudely and I don’t open my mouth and insult people without certainty. These daily indignities are not vented on grand media stages, but are quietly complained about in private.

In my mind there is no equivalency here, but the reader does raise a good point: there is, and never will be, a white equivalent to the N-word, but "racist" - when unsubstantiated - comes close.

(I'm being somewhat of a hypocrite by continuing to air arguments about the Gates incident, since I felt the story was overblown and counterproductive from the beginning. But thoughtful counterarguments from such readers are good for The Dish.)