Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Of Henry Gates and countersubversion

I have been plodding through this book, which doesn’t fascinate me as much as it no doubt ought to. I liked the sections on Kilcullen’s experiences in Afghanistan, which are new to me, but in respect to Iraq he largely repeats what we have already read in books by Bing West and Tom Ricks.

Of great interest, however, is a short section on takfiri radicalism in Europe, where Holland for example has a 6 percent Muslim population. One of the approaches Kilcullen suggests is ‘countersubversion’, in which ‘the aim is to displace the enemy network rather than just disrupt it. This relies on building networks of trust with individuals in the at-risk society, and then extending these networks into the community, gradually displacing the extremists. By using trusted networks of partners … we gradually restructure the social environment so as to deny the enemy a role in it.’ (p.260)

Yes … I guess! But then I think of the absurd display of minority victimization given us recently by Henry Gates of Harvard University, who feels he has been dumped on by Sergeant Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department. Here is a highly paid, highly respected, and widely (though evidently not universally) liked member of the academic oligarchy, who lives in a city with an African-American mayor, in a state with an African-American governor, in a country with an African-American president—and he feels aggrieved! (And by a policeman who, if names mean anything, is an Irish-American, whose forebears had to put up with the advice in help-wanted advertisements, ‘No Irish need apply’. And who furthermore was hired by a black police commissioner to teach Lowell cops how to avoid the appearance of racial profiling.)

If Henry Gates feels aggrieved, what hope is there that Holland can ever make its Muslims feel at home in the Netherlands? It will be a long time, if ever, that Holland has a Muslim prime minister. Some grievances are just too useful to be discarded. Blue skies! – Dan Ford


At 10:18 PM, Blogger Griff Marton said...

What you say is true and it seems that Prof. Gates acted like a pompous ass. But how likely is it that someone would take a cab to rob a house and bring two suitcases full of clothes along? I find it hard to believe that the police officer could not have asked his dispatcher verify that the house was in fact the home of Prof. Gates.(Prof. Gates apparently only had his Harvard I.D that did not show his address). The officer could perhaps have been the bigger man and wished Prof. Gates a good night and even offered to have a patrol car occasionally swing by and keep an eye on the front door that Prof. Gates apparently forced open. But Monday morning quarterbacking is always easier.

At 6:03 AM, Blogger Dan Ford said...

Well, all my contacts with the police have been unpleasant. What man in his right mind would expect otherwise? Far from living in a racist society, Professor Gates (and Governor Patrick and President Obama) live in such a cocooned society that they expect automatic deference from the lower classes. Sergeant Crowley shocked them by not doffing his hat, that's all.

But I may be prejudiced. My mother was a Crowley. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford


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