The Politics of Reverse Racism in America

By Peter Baofu

The incident concerning the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. in July 16 of 2009 in Cambridge, Massachusetts has a hidden (inconvenient) truth unsaid in contemporary American society. It has to do with the rising tide of reverse racism (by minorities, or blacks in this case) after decades of hard work by those in the Civil Rights Movement, and the phenomenon of reverse-racism in this case also involves black nepotism.

Shortly after the incident, President Barack Obama, who regards himself as a black and a friend of Gates, called the arrest "stupid," even though he acknowledged of not knowing all the facts about the incident (and later had to call the arresting white police officer, Sgt. James Crowley, in order to to quell the public uproar against his biased remark).

Gov. Deval Patrick, also a black, joined in and was on the side of Gates, when he "said he was troubled and upset over the incident." He even called the arrest "every black man's nightmare." When asked to apology for his hyperbolic remark later, he refused.

Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons, also a black, "spoke with Gates and apologized on behalf of the city," with "a statement from the city called the July 16 incident 'regrettable and unfortunate,'" according to a news update. This is so, even though she acknowledged that the case was still under investigation (while the charge of disorderly conduct against Gates was quickly and quietly dropped, with no further comment).

Civil Rights Movement veterans like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, also blacks, immediately sided with Gates and used the occasion to condemn the alleged larger phenomenon of racial profiling by white police officers against black folks.

All these biased reactions quickly took place, while some inconvenient details about the incident have been either downplayed or ignored in the mass media. For illustration, consider the following seven of them.

First, Gates at first refused to come outside his house to speak with the multiracial group of police officers, two whites and one black, who arrived and explained to him that they were investigating a report of a break-in. This refusal raised suspicion in the mind of the police officers.

Second, Gates also refused to show his ID (upon request by the police officers) initially. This refusal raised further suspicion in the mind of the police officers. He only showed his ID afterward, when the incident already turned ugly after he went to a verbal rage against the police officers, showing no cooperation nor respect to them.

Third, Gates then yelled and insulted the police officers in the incident, as he even used derogatory remarks about the mother of one of the police officers, like "...your mama" to Sgt. James Crowley, a white. By then, the behavior of Gates really turned abusive and was a good example of "disorderly conduct." Some of his neighbors were shocked to witness this, according to a news update. In fact, in the radio transmissions released a few days later, it was further confirmed that Sgt. Crowley was heard telling a dispatcher: "I'm up with a gentleman, says he resides here, but was uncooperative, but keep the cars coming." This is not about police abuse against a weak and innocent man on the street, but about a man of power and connection (even with the U.S. president as his “friend”) who is uncooperative and abusive, with a reverse-racist attitude. Were Sgt. Crowley a black, would Gates behave in the same way as he did?

Fourth, Gates made the incident as a case of whites vs. blacks. But it is interesting to note that one of the three police officers at the scene is Sgt. Leon Lashley, who is a black and, when later asked about his colleague's decision to arrest Gates, clearly said that he supported Crowley's decision "100 percent."

Fifth, Gates did not show any appreciation (or gratitude) to the police officers for their effort to find out if his house was broken in, after a 911 caller called the police and told them that she was not sure if two men were trying to break in his house, which then required some police officers to come and investigate. In the future, if there is ever a real break-in inside his house, will there be many police officers out there who are eagerly ready to come and help Gates? He already made a bad name of himself among them.

Sixth, Gates accused the arresting white office officer, Sgt. Crowley, "a rogue cop" for racial profiling during the incident. It is abusive for Gates to say so, while not knowing that it is this police officer, Sgt. Crowley, who is well respected as a police academy expert on racial profiling and "has taught a class [together with a black colleague] about racial profiling for five years at the Lowell Police Academy after being hand-picked for the job by former police Commissioner Ronny Watson, who is black," according to a recent news update. And it is also Sgt. Crowley, who tried to save the life of a black man, the former Boston Celtics player Reggie Lewis (who collapsed after a workout), by administering CPR on him in 1993.

And seventh, Gates quickly used his status as a man of power and connection to eagerly appear on TV and elsewhere afterward, with the help of his friends in high places, to verbally assault the police officers (like calling Sgt. Crowley "a rogue cop") and the larger white police community for racial profiling (including his threat to sue the Cambridge police department). The charge of disorderly conduct against him was quickly dropped (as mentioned earlier), which could not have happened to someone else who lacks the status and connection of Gates. Gates literally got away from his misdemeanor of disorderly conduct -- simply because he is not an average Joe like many of us. He is a man of power and connection with those in high places (including the U.S. president as his “friend”)--unlike many of us.

This uncivil and abusive behavior of Gates during the incident is rather disgraceful (or something beneath him to do), especially for someone who is a Harvard University professor and is internationally renowned as a scholar. Is he so arrogant and so conscious of his status of power and connection -- and so hateful to the white establishment -- that he did not give a damn, especially to the two white police officers, who did not seem to mean anything to him? Were the the police officers all blacks, would he behave the same? Gates is the wrong model for us to follow in the campaign against police racial profiling.

This incident of reverse racism (with black nepotism) is not an isolated case. After decades of hard work by those in the Civil Rights Movement, the progress which has brought someone like Obama to be what the mass media has sensationally called "the first black U.S. president" (and many other black folks like Gates to power) has its dark side unsaid.

For instance, when Roland Burris, a black, seemingly misled the Senate and others some months ago about his corrupt dealing for campaign cash with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in order to get the Senate seat by any means (and is still under criminal investigation for perjury), some in the black community were quick to criticize the critics against Burris as racially motivated, in accusing them of not wanting a black man in the U.S. Senate.

When Michael Jackson, a black, died a few weeks ago, many black leaders wanted to pass a national resolution to honor him "forever." And the charge of racism was easily thrown at anyone who dared to criticize the indecent side of the singer's past (e.g., his history of molesting children, including his multi-million out-of-court settlement with the victims; his indecent tendency to grasp his groin when doing his uniquely erotic dance in singing, etc.). Is Jackson really a model for children to watch and imitate? How many parents are there who are willing to leave their children alone with Jackson for the night?

When O.J. Simpson, a black, was arrested and charged for murdering two white folks, the predominantly black jury refused to convict him. If Simpson were a white and the two victims were blacks, would this predominantly black jury reached the same verdict?

It is a stupid comment for President Obama, who regards himself as a black and a friend of Gates, to call the arrest of his friend "stupid", even though he acknowledged of not knowing all the facts about the incident. This is shocking enough, for a president who has the reputation to ask the nation to move beyond partisan politics and yet allows himself to be partisan in supporting his friend even when he does not know all the facts. Instead of being the leader who unites the country, he divides it between his friends and those who are not.

It is no wonder that the Cambridge police commissioner, Robert Haas, later said that he was "deeply pained" by President Obama's remark. Dennis O'Connor, president of the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, also said that Obama's remark was "misdirected." Sgt. Crowley himself said that he was also "disappointed" by the remark. And President Obama had to call Sgt. Crowley by phone the day after to calm down the public uproar over his biased remark against the police officer.

Justice is not served in this case, because of the unfair way in which Sgt. Crowley was treated after the incident and of the corrupt way in which Gates got away from his misdemeanor of disorderly conduct -- simply because he is a man of power and connection with those in high places.

This case shows that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, as Lord Acton once famously warned us. As black leaders become more powerful, they too become corrupt and use the ideological rhetoric of racism as a weapon to smash anyone in their path to power. In the process, they commit the same old sins that others before them did: nepotism, greed, abuse, oppression, etc.

In the long term, it is America itself which will be damaged the most in this rising tide of reverse-racism -- in the name of fighting against racism. At the end of the rainbow politics is a new America with the same old sins, not just by the majority but also by the minority.

About the author: Dr. Peter Baofu is the author of 25 books (as of mid-2009) on numerous topics in different fields. Three of the books, like THE FUTURE OF CAPITALISM AND DEMOCRACY (2002) and the 2 volumes of THE FUTURE OF HUMAN CIVILIZATION (2000) discussed numerous issues, including the emerging phenomenon of what he called "reverse-racism" and "reverse-sexism" in our times.

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov