For many months the right wing populist chatter box has been drumming up the spectre of a socialist radical president with no respect for civil liberties, due process, or property rights. Then as soon as the president says it is stupid to arrest a man on his own property for speaking his mind, the right wing populist chatter box denounces the president for that.
Overnight, the fashion for denouncing the president is all the rage. Nobody worries anymore about private property, due process, or civil liberties. It is the uniformed officer who can do you no wrong. And just like that, America’s post-racial presidency has come to a windshield-smashing end. The color line is back.
One hardly knows how to defend the man who holds the most powerful office in the world. His defeat already shows on his face. Either one has already helped to defeat the president or one is already too late.
It is already too late to distinguish between racism as bigotry aforethought and racism as saturated cultural response. It is already too late to point out that the president said, “Now, I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that . . .” It is already too late to ask how a career cop in Cambridge can approach the home of Skip Gates without already knowing who he is. It is already too late to undo the swift victory that white supremacy has won, with all its well-known right wing populist momentum.
The choosing time has passed. You already know which side you’re on. And if you’re on the president’s side this time, you know what comes next. The president will try to figure out how to appeal to the side that you and he are not on. He’ll try to appease the right wing populist rest. Say you’ve been on the president’s side before? ‘Nuff said.
With another three years of hard work left in this presidency, I think the shape of things going forward will depend upon the internal struggle now at play between the bulls and bears. As I’m working on that struggle internally in a fractal replay of things writ large, I have to think that the arrest of Skip Gates marks a bear market in the currency of respect.
By coincidence Skip Gates was returning home from the land of scholars when he encountered some difficulties at his own front door. “Slight the learned,” warned Mozi in 400 BCE, “and you will neglect the ruler and injure the state.” Even in Cambridge Massachusetts the learned are not respected. Apparently they are not even well known. The ruler has been neglected, the state injured. Neat as a fortune cookie America, in the image of Skip Gates handcuffed, your future has just been read.
GREG MOSES is editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review and author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. He is a contributor to Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK Press. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org