The Police and the Professor

          It’s strange how some stories just reach out from relative obscurity and grab our collective conscience. The recent arrest of Harvard Professor Louis Gates seems to be just the latest case in point.

          Was this an example of racism or was it an issue of class? How you answer that question may say a lot about who you are and where you are from. Do African Americans still experience racism in our society? Of course.  Do police and other government workers sometimes receive less-than-respectful treatment from the public they are sworn to serve and protect? You bet.

            For all the progress we’ve made, we continue to trip over sensitive issues, especially it seems, when they are related to race and class. While the president stumbled in his initial criticism of the Cambridge police (“stupidly” is not an endearing term, especially when it comes from the Commander in Chief), he got it right today is saying that this incident can be a ‘teachable moment.”

          The unanswered question, though, is “What are we to learn from what happened — even at the gates of Harvard?”


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