Everyone knows what a "teachable moment" is. It's when the liberal brings down the hammer and you are supposed to admit that you were wrong about some arcane point of liberal theology.
So when President Obama mumbled something about a teachable moment with respect to the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., ordinary Americans were ready to upchuck
But the racial incident now known as Gates-gate is showing signs of breaking the mold. Because the rules have changed.
No doubt Harvard scholar "Skip" Gates thought he was onto a sure thing when he railed against the white cop called out to investigate a reported burglary at his house in Cambridge, MA. After all, when you are a famous black-studies professor you can't turn down an opportunity for publicity. Publicity is the name of the game.
And no doubt President Obama thought he was onto a sure thing when he injected the Gates incident into an awkward press conference about his awkward health policies.
And no doubt New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd just thought it was a cheap opportunity to say something clever about "the arc of civil rights dramas from Jim Crow to Jim Crowley." What a humiliation for a man like Gates who summers on Martha's Vineyard, darling!
But it didn't turn out that way, because the rules have changed.
For years and years, liberals have been telling us that blacks can't be racist because they don't have any power. This has always been a lie because the whole point of the Civil Rights Acts was to give blacks power, to establish that blacks had the power to vote, and send federal troops to enforce that right if that's what it took.
Never mind about that. Liberals do stuff like that all the time. It is called abuse of power.
What tripped up Gates and Obama is that the Gates incident involved two powerful black men and a white man who, of all things, is a racial profiling instructor. It also involved routine audio and video of the incident. So it turned out that the white cop was truthful in his report of the incident and Gates was not.
Also, as Michael Barone points out, the guy facing the big risk in the Gates affair was the white cop. If he had lied (as Gates appears to have done) or if he had tried a cheap shot (as Obama appears to have done) then all the power of the race industry would have descended upon him without mercy.
Now we learn that the black cop photographed at the Gates incident, Sgt. Leon Lashley, has also suffered in this incident. He sent a letter to President Obama with Sgt. Crowley telling him that he's been attacked as an Uncle Tom for his support of his fellow police officer.
Well now. Isn't that interesting.
It's a reminder, as if we needed one, that in all the political maneuvering of the "Do You Know Who I Am" people there are usually innocent victims. In the liberal race politics of the last half century the victims have usually been the white working class, suitably scapegoated as "red-necks."
But now we are reminded that it's not just the white working class that gets caught in the cross-currents of liberal racism and power politics. Blacks get tossed around as well.
Yes indeed. We just had a teachable moment. But the guys that need a spot of "larnin'" probably aren't going to get the message. Professor Gates ought to be ashamed. President Obama ought to be ashamed. But don't wait around for that to happen.
But we can take comfort in the honest and honorable conduct of Sgt. Crowley and Sgt. Lashley. There are actually a lot of worthy Americans in these United States who do the right thing, even when nobody is looking. They even do the right thing after their betters have lashed their backs to ribbons with the cat-o-nine-tails.
It's enough to make you proud.