Possible Lessons Learned from Arrest of Professor Gates

By John W. Lillpop

Although many Americans remain skeptical about President Obama's attempt to turn the arrest of Professor Gates into a "teaching moment," it may turn out that the episode contains a treasure cove of lessons learned, provided the involved parties are reasonable and objective.

Possible Lessons Learned:

For President Obama:

With all due respect, sir, we understand that your health care reform proposals are in jeopardy, largely because of dissent from members of your own party, and, more importantly, because facts released by the Congressional Budget Office do not support your justifications for adding $1.6 trillion dollars to the national debt.

Nonetheless, sir, it seems unfair to convert the arrest of a black professor into a national furor by declaring that the police acted "stupidly," in order to manipulate the news.

Further, your comment seems particularly inappropriate since you have admitted that you were not at the scene and were not familiar with all the details.

Again, with all due respect, I wonder how you would have reacted if the arresting officer had been a person of color?

Possible Lessons Learned: Avoid using divisive, wedge politics to manipulate news headlines. And take a deep breath and rethink the health care issue before adding to the national debt.

For Professor Gates:

Nearly everyone agrees that African Americans have suffered enormously because of slavery and discrimination in education, employment, and housing. There is a national sense of shame and regret for that tragic part of American history.

On the other hand, enormous strides have been made as evidenced by the election of your friend, Barack Obama. America is not perfect and never will be; however, its pretty damn good compared to conditions in other nations of the world.

The rule of law should apply to everyone, even esteemed professors. After all, law enforcement people took actions to protect what turned out to be YOUR property.

A little gratitude, rather than hostility, would be helpful.

With all due respect, I wonder how you would have reacted if the arresting officer had been a person of color? Would you have refused to come out of your home and been as outraged and uncooperative as you were with Sgt. James Crowley?

Possible Lesson Learned: Racial profiling is abhorrent when used to harm people of color and is equally wrong when used by people of color against white law enforcement authorities.

For Sgt. James Crowley

So far, the facts appear to support your decision to act as you did. There was no obvious racial profiling on your part. In fact, you appear to have been a victim of profiling.

Possible Lesson Learned:

Doing the right thing should never be a difficult decision. When a professional, trained police officer determines that criminal acts have been committed, said officer should use due diligence in enforcing the law based on the available facts.

For our political leaders and law makers, let this episode serve as notice that "racial profiling" can go both ways, and can be abused in order to obscure common sense.