So, Thursday night, President Obama intends to sit down with Dr. Gates and Sgt. Crowley for a cold beer and a friendly discussion about race in America today. And I think it's a goddam great idea.
I'm not saying we're beyond the age of needing to litigate to make sure racial prejudice does not impact peoples' lives. I'm not calling this "post-race America", for the good lord's sake. But I do think that many of us are in a place where our individual, socially implanted, culturally reinforced racial prejudices can best be winnowed out and destroyed by looking each other in the face and talking shit through. And if there's beer involved, so much the better!
Now, maybe this will fail. Maybe it'll wind up a Springer-style screaming brawl, with broken glass and trigger-happy secret service men. But I doubt it, as shallowly entertaining as that might turn out to be. Will it solve the rancor and divisiveness this incident's created in those of us not actually involved? No, probably not. But for the two men at the heart of the issue, maybe this will be a moment worth thinking about later. Maybe some education, some healing will happen while they sip their Red Stripe and Blue Moon (and is there any more perfect symbolism than that?) - let's ignore the Pres's deplorable choice of Bud Light for the moment. Maybe the next time Crowley's called upon to interact with a black person in the call of his duty, he'll understand some of the anger and distrust aimed his way and have some patience. Maybe Gates will feel like he got to speak his piece and was heard, something that doesn't happen often enough in this world.
After all, I have yet to see much drama that couldn't be deflated and deflected if the people involved would just sit down and talk. Drink up, guys. Hope it goes well. Here's to you.