Just a year and a half ago, there was another sensational story about a police state run amok, when Professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested in his own home by a police officer for–and I really defy anyone to challenge this–failing to show enough respect for a police officer in his own living room. Photos of a hand-cuffed Gates being pulled out of his own home in front of his neighbors, created quite a stir.
I remember at the time that the left-wing blogosphere was quite cool to this episode, though it gave the entire nation a fantastic opportunity to talk about issues of racial profiling and police discretion of use of power. Racial profiling? How uninteresting is that? That was already going on for decades before Bush came into power in 2000. And Gates was apparently not a representative enough figure for some, and you know, he did yell at the cop handcuffing him. Snooty Harvard elitist.
It really boggles my mind how some on the left now expect the entire world to rally around the image of a white dude opting out of a plane ride because he didn’t want a pat down. It’s not that it isn’t an important issue–if they’d been on top of issues of racial profiling at all, or if they’d used the Gates arrest to open up a larger dialogue about the unspoken rules of police officers and TSA officials alike, this would have been an easy connect. But there’s silence from the Muslim community on this one, and perhaps a bit of head-scratching given what is old and forgotten news in terms of airport horror stories.
That’s left the right wing blogosphere-legislative-industrial complex to run the issue like a whipped dog. They’ve stolen the media message, and somehow made it into a cry for, yes, you guessed it, more profiling! It’s quite obvious that opt-out Wednesday, if it happens at all outside a few theatrically themed tea-bagging spectacles, will be a rallying cry for the racist right.
On that note, here’s one of the few blogospheroids who actually addressed the Gates issue in the universal terms that it should have been addressed:
I’m tired of writing update when I think of something new, so I’m not doing that anymore. Or at least today I’m not. But something struck me after I watched the clip again; the really incredible knots people tied themselves into to portray deference to individual police officers, contrasted with the utter contempt that people who’ve taken up the “junk” issue on all sides seem to have for these minimum-wage-pulling security officers who are legally prohibited from forming or joining unions. The bottom line is that no screener working for the TSA has ever bashed anyone’s head-in with a baton, tazered them for being insufficiently demure, or called anyone in line a n***** while pushing their face into the sidewalk and wrenching their hands behind their backs. So for me, its difficult to understand the contrasting attitudes. It almost seems that the Screeners have become the sport of kings, not powerful enough or intimidating enough to demand any kind of respect, but visible enough to constantly deride and spit at.