Day By Day

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Racial Hate Crime at Columbia?

The NY Post reports:

A prominent Columbia architecture professor punched a female university employee in the face at a Harlem bar during a heated argument about race relations, cops said yesterday.

Police busted Lionel McIntyre, 59, for assault yesterday after his bruised victim, Camille Davis, filed charges.

McIntyre and Davis, who works as a production manager in the school's theater department, are both regulars at Toast, a popular university bar on Broadway and 125th Street, sources said.

The professor, who is black, had been engaged in a fiery discussion about "white privilege" with Davis, who is white, and another male regular, who is also white, Friday night at 10:30 when fists started flying, patrons said.

Is this the dialogue on race that Obama encouraged?

Perhaps. But if there is to be an honest dialogue, the sides must be accorded equal status in the debate. Now stop for a second and think about how the incident would have been handled if a white man had attacked a black woman after having an argument with her about the subject of race. All the ingredients of a "hate crime" were present. The victim was of a different gender and race than her attacker and race was the subject of the dispute. Of course the assailant would be charged with a hate crime. Why not Prof. MacIntyre?

Need I ask? As an African-American MacIntyre is a member of a protected minority that in any dispute is automatically supposed to be accorded superior moral and legal status. But his victim was a woman, and she, too, can assert privileged status on the basis of her sex ["You don't hit a woman"].

In such a poisonous situation, where all involved assume a position of moral and legal superiority, no rational discussion is possible because neither side ultimately can cede the moral high ground and the likely result of the debate will be the one Prof. MacIntyre applied.