Monday, July 27, 2009

Criminal, Not Stupid (Part 2)

Today is Monday, 27 July 2009.

Anyone who’s considered armed social formations, such as police and military, in terms of sociological and anthropological analysis, knows that often, elements or majorities of each are indistinguishable from “gangs”. In particular, they adopt the gang attitude toward “disrespect”.

Theoretically, in a democracy, armed social formations are the employees and instruments of the popular will. In practice, they usually serve primarily the interests of ruling elites. This separation from the people facilitates their adoption of a self-image that they are over the people, not employees.

Often, when such police move into a “gang-infested” neighbourhood, or encounter non-elites (particularly persons of colour, the poor, etc.),they act as a super-gang. In these instances, they demand "respect" (i.e., craven fawning and fascist-style obedience) for themselves as the gunmen of the elites, not respect for the people and the law which originates from the people.

Thus, when Prof. Gates required Sergeant Crowley to produce official ID, as the latter is required to do by law, Crowley refused. (Police are equivalent in this requirement to municipal meter readers.) By his lawless actions, Crowley expressed the fact that he fancies himself, not a citizen, but a gang enforcer. By requiring Crowley to legally identify himself as if he were, not the representative of a feudal lord, but an employee of the people, Prof. Gates had disrespected the Blue Gang, and the penalty was violence and humiliation, just as if Gates had disrespected a Blood or Crip.

This abusive practice is independent of racism, though often part and parcel of it. One of the other Cambridge police on the scene is Black, and supported Crowley. Obviously, the former identifies himself more with his Blue Gang than with victims of police abuse and white racism. (Is it instructive that the president of the Cambridge Police association is a male white whose SUV has the vanity plate, “Why-tee”?)

Many Americans (particularly whites) who have infrequent and usually benign contact with the police fail to grasp the crucial importance of the ID issue. Failure to produce police ID shows that the officer concerned considers himself above the law, and facilitates untraceable criminal police behaviour. This is intolerable in a democracy.


Anonymous disappointed said...

Officers of the law are gangs, huh?

When referring to the black officer on the scene, you state "the former identifies himself more with his Blue Gang than with victims of police abuse and white racism." Earlier in Part 2, you were careful to indicate that the incident was not necessarily spurred by racial intolerance but that it was due to blind allegiance to the "ruling elite" rather than serving the people. (That, in itself is a big jump, but we can leave that for another day.) In the paragraph I quoted, you indicate the incident is gang mentality and racism. You snuck in the racism thing.

I know you have had run-ins with officers of the law in more than one state, of which you are proud. I have heard your stories related to these incidences, and you have every right to feel as you wish about them. However, I have to disagree that officers of the law are just legalized thugs. You have a lot of leftover anger from days long gone. Let it go; it doesn't do anyone any good. It only makes you more sad and cynical.

Please don't put a "Pigs are Thugs" sign in your front yard; you may not get help when someone breaks into your house and scares the crap out of Mrs. HH.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous reader said...

I agree with "Disappointed", and would like to make other comments.

As far as anyone can tell, there were no "racial words" used during the instance between Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley. Why is it assumed that the conflict was solely due to racial differences between the participants?

What about the difference between these gentlemen's jobs? Professor Gates' job would perhaps be considered more elite than Sergeant Crowley's. I heard a comment on NPR this morning that the mayor of Cambridge is black and so it the Governor of Massachusetts. Might this negate the idea that the instance between these men was racial in nature?

Also, what ever happened to the lessons mom and dad taught - respect for authority, including, don't argue with a police officer. From "Disappointed's" comments, it seems that HH has learned that first hand.

9:45 AM  

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