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22 July 2009

Vacation Time (Part II)!

Well, I have been fairly deficient the past few weeks in updating this little blog. Even my last blog entry on the Fourth was pretty much a cop-out. Speaking of which, here are my reasons for being so delinquent in my updating duties:

1.) The week after Independence Day I was in Fripp Island, South Carolina, for a few days before heading up to Banaslam in Cornelius, North Carolina at D. Rowland's place. My girlfriend and I stopped in Beaufort, South Carolina on our way to the beach where I picked up the twice-monthly The Lowcountry, which included a fantastic article about the recent Mark Sanford affair. The author, Margaret Evans, places Sanford in a very tragic--and very human--aspect, pointing out his honesty, however belated, during his unusually sincere press conference. You can find it here: "The Bigger They Are..."

2.) I've had three interviews at two different employers, both in Sumter, South Carolina. I have had two interviews with the City of Sumter for a position there as their Cultural Coordinator (more on that later) and had a second interview with Thomas Sumter Academy, a private school, for a teaching position in English and History. Therefore, I've been spending a good bit of time traveling to and from Aiken, Florence, and Sumter, as well as doing research for these positions (these days, you can never be too prepared).

3.) I've been playing a lot of games on Steam, especially Half-Life 2 and some unique, five dollar games that I have ordered from Steam--Chains, a pretty colorful, highly-original puzzle game, and Blueberry Garden, a whimsical but subtly sinister game about a living and temporarily breathing garden suffering from a mysterious peril.

4.) I am exercising! My girlfriend and I walk three miles a day and we have--over my objections--started to jog lightly. Weight loss, here I come! Maybe I'll have to change the name of this blog....

5.) Despite all of my traveling, I actually haven't been able to listen to news talk radio that often. I only really listen in the car alone, so for about a week or a week-and-a-half I didn't get hardly any news from my usual source; ergo, I have fallen woefully behind on the current events of the day.

All that being the case, I do have a quick topic to discuss. Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., was arrested the other day for ambiguous reasons. He arrived back from a trip and basically had to break into his own house. The issue is that Professor Gates is black, and he and others are saying that the Cambridge police department is racist.

Yeah, yeah--this is the same old song and dance. The arresting officer probably was motivated by race when he (allegedly) treated the professor roughly. Of course, the professor was probably being a smug, elitist punk when he (allegedly) talked down to the officer. They were probably both at fault.

I'm no big fan of cops, although one of them was very nice to let me off with a warning on my way to the beach the other week (and I was going fifteen over--thank you Officer DeLoach of Allendale). I recognize that they are necessary in our society to maintain order--the thin blue line and what-not--but police organizations can harbor some fairly dangerous and even racist contempt for the people they are charged to protect. I suppose this is the eternal problem facing police, who must constantly protect citizens that don't entirely appreciate them and who they don't entirely respect.

In fact, I don't even care if this arrest was racially motivated or not. Here's what upsets me: the way AP writer Jesse Washington covers the arrest in this piece: "Scholar's arrest is a signpost on the road to equality." Read the opening paragraphs: Washington is essentially arguing that because Professor Gates is well-educated and distinguished, he should be treated better than others who commit crimes. On the surface his argument is that because Professor Gates, a well-known African-American scholar, is treated poorly by the police, it just goes to show how much more poorly regular African-American men are treated by police.

That's not the point I see at all. I am enraged at the assumption that a Harvard professor deserves better treatment than others. Yeah, a lot of cops are probably anti-intellectual as well as racist. That doesn't matter. Professors contribute a great deal to society; they also sit on their butts quite a bit, too, especially the established ones. And honorary degrees, of which Professor Gates has over fifty, Washington tells us (probably due some extent to the fact that Professor Gates is a pioneering black scholar) are purely symbolic.

I'm not the only one. Dr. Boyce Watkins, an African-American, expresses some similar sentiments. I encourage you to read his article here: "Consider this before crying 'racial profiling.'" Maybe he has more cache than I since, in this color-blind society of ours, he's black.

Yes, there are plenty of white people who do despicable things to blacks and other minorities. Yes, there are a lot of elitist, ivory tower types in our universities. There are also tons of race-baiters out there who are all too ready to play the race card. In this instance, Professor Gates is probably right to do so, but he shouldn't expect better treatment because he's a distinguished professor at Harvard.

And, c'mon--how many skin-headed cops are really going to know a professor by sight? I don't know what Bernard Bailyn looks like, and I studied history at the graduate level and read several of his books.

So, yeah--welcome back.

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