Saturday, July 25, 2009
Gates-gate: Are Cops & Blacks On The Same Planet?
One of the most disturbing things about Sergeant James Crowley is that he has been teaching other cops about racial profiling for five years. Is he teaching them that law enforcement means never having to say you are sorry? And as Wayne Martin asked, "When did it become illegal to be angry at a law enforcement official?"
I would like to know how much anger one can express verbally before being arrested for disorderly conduct or resisting arrest. Like world-famous professors and presidents, cops are accustomed to being heeded. But if they really want to be peace officers, they can't be thinking that gentleness is weakness.
New York State Senator Eric Adams, a retired police captain, seems to understand that law enforcement does mean having to say you are sorry. Constables on patrol regularly confront people to verify that someone is not up to no good. And when it turns out they have accosted law-abiding citizens inaccurately, courtesy suggests that one apologize for the intrusion when it turns out to have been fortunately unnecessary.
So who should apologize? Professor Gates? Probably not, but I'd have to know more about the exact events. Sgt. Crowley? Only if he wants to keep teaching. President Obama? Definitely not. I agree that Sgt. Crowley acted like his prefrontal cortex was on vacation. I'd also like to know what Miss Manners thinks.
We need nonviolent law enforcement. While this may seem like an oxymoron, Gandhi found that his most dependable nonviolent supporters were the Sikh warriors, who were accustomed to confronting physical force. It is possible to use physical force in a nonviolent way, just as it is possible to be violent in ways that are verbal, economic, emotional, etc.
It may not always be simple or easy, but isn't that why we pay cops the big bucks? If they don't have the spiritual stamina to say they are wrong when they are wrong, then they are in the wrong line of work.