Case study: You are a white police officer in Cambridge, Massachusetts–home of Harvard University. You are a decorated 11-year veteran, and you teach courses on racial profiling. You respond to a 911 call about a possible burglary in progress. Regardless of what happens next [ what they each saw (AP); or police report (pdf); more related links]. . . you have confirmed that the 58 year old black man with the cane in the house is indeed a resident of the home (likely the owner)–no life-threatening burglary is taking place. You also now know that he works for Harvard University (I don’t know whether the Harvard ID card shows whether he is faculty or not).
BUT now he is angry and continues to loudly berate you for being a racist.
What do you do next?
I guess a lot depends on your temperament and personal history.
See also: America After the Gates Arrest (Reconciliation Blog), theRoot.com (multiple articles), William Easterly: Smart Rules and Stupid Outcomes, or this gem by the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson: Pique and the Professor (I bet he’s right too.)