As a recent graduate of George Mason University, I can attest that the details of this July's Obama-Gates controversy will most likely fade into the sun-drenched carefree months of your typical college students' summer. An arrest, President Obama calling police officers stupid, beer at the White House, what kind of beer they drank. However, there is a lesson that we can take from both Professor Gates and President Obama.
A backfire erupted because most Americans, college students included, immediately saw through the racial facade that Prof. Gates and the President implied. To most Americans, the arrest was unfortunate, but appropriate given the circumstances. Nevertheless, despite there being no legal grounds to determine wrongdoing on the part of the Officer, and no indication that race was a factor, both Prof. Gates and Obama criticized Sergeant Crowley’s motives and integrity when they cried race-related foul play.
What should have been addressed with respect to Prof. Gates and President Obama is the interjection of pre-conceived notions and biases into a situation that was initially void of race or color. By publicly denouncing Sgt. Crowley’s motives, they unwittingly uncovered their own race-related presumptions. Most would hope that the President of the United States and a "distinguished" Harvard Professor should be the first to withhold judgment based on personal presumptions before the facts were presented.
As a new school year approaches, consider that our colleges and universities are beleaguered with the same bias and presuppositions that were unsuccessfully advanced by President Obama and Prof. Gates. It is no myth that the academic community has an overwhelming liberal slant. But the extent of activism and agenda-driven education by our university professors has not been given adequate attention. A purely objective and "liberal" education, in its classical definition has been almost entirely replaced with an educational system based on a pre-conceived liberal bias of American society, including matters of race.
It is logical to assume the same reactions and presumptions by President Obama in the White House Press Room are made in the halls of Harvard and other prestigious universities by professors on a daily basis. Let us not forget President Obama himself was once a law professor at the University of Chicago and discussed these same topics in his Racism and the Law class.
It is well established that college professors too often interject their own presumptions and biases into the classroom, just as Prof. Gates did when he so brazenly cried racism as Sgt. Crowley was carrying out his responsibilities. It may not be as blatant and reckless as it was from the President and Prof. Gates; effective bias and prejudice can subtle in nature. From an English professor providing his own list of liberal "classics" as required reading, to the political science professor applying the term "neo-con" to any conservative he or she may wish, presumptions and bias are around every corner of American’s universities.
In another era, it would have been all too easy to simply accept both the President's and the Professor's quick judgment of Gates’ arrest. In 2009, Americans chose to examine the facts, to hear the testimony of Sgt. Crowley, to leave race out of the equation, and to come to their own conclusions. Students too are intelligent enough to catch the same liberal presumptions that are not-so-cleverly inserted into their classrooms. And, with the advent of the internet and alternative news sources, students today have the necessary resources at their fingertips to challenge any premise or presupposition that a hasty professor may imply.
This Fall, students should take on the responsibility of not accepting professors’ tendencies to rely on suppositions, but instead should question the very conjectures that irresponsible professors such as Gates "stupidly" interject.