Tuesday, 4 August 2009

A class act

The Henry Gates/policeman incident has been forgotten by now, so it's time to post about it. The US press covered it purely in terms of racism, of course, but forget that, it's about class. In those terms you have a Harvard professor, who from the age of 18 has been one of the most privileged people in the world (Yale, Cambridge, Harvard) confronting a working-class cop. The line "Do you know who I am?" and the insistence on producing a Harvard ID (which indicates rank in the university) as opposed to a Mass driver's license (anyone can have one of those) can only be understood as "Fuck you, I'm famous and you're a prole" followed by "Fuck you, this prole is taking you in." Mind you, I'm not criticizing Harvard, this is what Harvard is for and what the world expects of it.

11 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

He allegedly made a "yo mama" remark to the policeman. I bet an Oxford professor wouldn't have done that.

Dr Maroon said...

My Coatbridge Technical College matric card has the same effect on the Strathclyde Police.
When I ask "Do you know who I am?" they say "Yes, that's why we're taking you in, you f*cker."

BEAST said...

This world of priveledge is a closed book to me Inky. My Tesco Clubcard buys me no kudos whatsoever :-(

inkspot said...

GB, you are surely right. But I do know one at Cambridge, with a career of the greatest indistinction behind him, who would have done it.

The Strathclyde police are a fine body of men. BTW yesterday I saw, in the driver's cab of a NJ Transit train, a red box marked "Fusees and torpedos." But no maroons Maroon.

And therefore Beast you know it's a bad idea to insult policemen and the like, even, or especially, when they are in the wrong.

Lulu LaBonne said...

You can tell a true gentleman by the way he takes his champagne

inkspot said...

Lulu, I'm sure Gates would take his, but would he give you any?

Gadjo Dilo said...

Is this incident still news? I do wish they'd arrest every Cambridge (U.K.) grad on similar charges and video their "Hey, look, I went to Cambridge, and the degree I did there was the most difficult of it's kind in the world" protestations.

inkspot said...

Gadj, be fair, it's not in the nature of this blog to comment on anything that's actually current, see the post's opening sentence. There's nothing to b done about the Cambridge grads I'm afraid, except wait for them to encounter people from other universities (eg Harvard) who know a lot more than they do.

Mrs Pouncer said...

Maroon is of Cambridge and I know him well. sorry, I am pissed and on a Weednesday, but I do know him well and can I say that he is a gnelteman although completely impecunious and has stiffed me for the check on more than one occasion, Also taxis. Aunt. And at a restaurant in Glasgow he had a card refused.

inkspot said...

Clarissa, how lovely to see you. Don't worry, Mrs Pouncer pissed is worth two of any ordinary commenters. Not that Precision Handling has those.

Gyppo Byard said...

The "do you know who I am?" gambit always risks the riposte of a public announcement of "Can anyone help? There's a gentleman here who doesn't know who he is..."

Personally, I have long found "never try to be funny with anyone in uniform" a good strategy.