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Well, it seems that the tender sensibilities of a famous Harvard professor were offended. He and his driver put their shoulders to his front door. A neighbor called the police. The officer responded and adopted the usual officious and superior manner of policemen. As a man who knows only deference and adulation, the professor lost his temper and shouted insults, pulled rank (“DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?”), and accused the policeman of being a moral cretin (“RACIST!”). The confrontation escalated, and the verbally gifted professor launched into a tirade of abuse. The officer did what officers do in order to assert themselves and show that they are in charge: He arrested the professor and took him away.

Call me racially insensitive, but the arrest of Henry Louis Gates had nothing to do with race—except for the fact that Gates decided to mount an all out verbal assault based on his own presumptions about race.  No, his arrest was the result of the boorish and arrogant behavior of a very privileged and rich man who is used to getting his way.

I’ve known people like Henry Louis Gates. He is the coddled product of elite American society: Yale undergrad, Cambridge University in England with the support of famous fellowships, back to Yale, then Cornell and Duke, and finally Harvard. Immensely talented, widely recognized, media favorite, friend of the President of the United States—Gates has long been one of America’s golden boys.

Thus his outrage: A policeman with a working class Boston accent and no advanced degrees telling him to show identification!

The Mayor of Cambridge is black. The Governor of Massachusetts is black. The President of the United States is black. It’s time to stop playing the race card, Professor Gates. Face up to the facts. You lost your temper, and from your position of superiority you verbally abused a guy who does the dirty work to protect your privileged position in American society. It’s time to stop posing. Give Sgt. James Crowley the apology he deserves.

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