An Equal and Opposite Overreaction

Having a beer at the White House cannot change the fact that blacks and whites are just on different sides when it comes to dealing with cops.


Lawd, have muh-cy, we are going down that road again.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. was right when he said that his nasty run-in with the Cambridge police would trigger a “racial narrative.” It’s the same one that has been unreeled since the videotaped beating of Rodney King, the trial of O.J. Simpson and the shooting death of Amadou Diallo.

Black man vs. white cops. A “black interpretation” vs. a “white interpretation.” Dialogue. Promises to learn from the clash.

But we never do, and every time a new incident springs into the headlines, we start all over again.

And that’s what we’ll do this time. As his attempt to pull back from his clumsily worded initial remarks about the incident made clear, even the president of the United States can get caught up in the whirlpool. His claim that the cops had acted “stupidly” by arresting Gates was a standard part of the “black interpretation” of these sorts of events. As were most of the comments posted on The Root by both blacks and whites. Blacks seemed to side with Gates and criticize the police for overstepping their authority and harboring racial stereotypes. Whites backed the cops and excoriated Gates for mouthing off instead of quietly complying with the cops’ instructions.