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Henry Louis Gates is a guy who has been in the public eye for over a quarter century now. He has always, until now, been known as a mild-mannered and judicious fellow, an excelent and engaging writer, and TV series host. If you haven't heard of him, it may be because you're just not interested in issues of race and ethnicity, or you don't want to consider the views of any black person about them.
Gates was in China for some time doing a new documentary. While he was there, some Australians were arrested by the Chinese, and dipolmatic tensions abounded, and Gates must have wondered whether he might be at risk. Then, he came home on what must have been a long flight--or two, or three, depending on how many stopovers were involved. My guess is at least one, either in Hawaii or one of the West coast cities. Let me ask you a question. Do you sleep much on planes? I can say I've never been able to for long, especially not if there is a stopover involved. So, he gets back to Logan Airport, and he's probably spent at least 24 hours or more without sleep, or sleeping only in short snatches. He gets his regular limo service, or car, or whatever it is--its plainly not just an ordinary taxi, but its plain from the press reports that there are lots of white folk who are really upset at Gates being so uppity as to have a regular car and driver--now there's a Knee-grow who just doesn't know his place, don't you know. Doesn't he know that stuff is just for white folks?
So, he gets home and he has trouble getting in. Probably has something to do with warping. He's been away for a while, and there have been lots of temperature changes since he left. So, he has to break in. We all know that part of the story by now. Somebody named Lucia Whalen calls 911. Why she didn't recognize Gates is beyond me, but he was working on the door from the inside, and maybe she only had a partial view of him. I am, btw, disturbed by the rush to judgement to trash her reputation in some of the lefty press and chatrooms, which rush, I am eager to point out, was eschewed on the website Prof. Gates oversees @ [link] . See [link] ... t-neighbor .
So, Gates gets in his house, the driver leaves, apparently, because there is no report of his having been there when the cops arrive that I know of. He's finally home and looking forward to getting some sleep, maybe, or taking a nice soaking bath to relieve the tension of weeks and the day in particular. Then the cops come. Prof. Gates is not at his best, or anywhere near it. Still, his behavior is not so bad that the cops are ready to arrest him. Not until, that is, Prof. Gates says he wants to file a complaint and asks for the officer's name and badge number. At this point, according to his attorney, Charles Ogletree,and according to scores of thousands of people of all ethnicities who have had encounters with police and have asked that question, the police attitude changed. And its no wonder. Although any citizen has an absolute right to demand and get this information, cops see it from a different perspective. The cop is thinking--and I'm talking every cop of every race in every situation dealing with citizens of any race, sex, or ethnicity--"Holy smoke, this guy wants to file a complaint. If I just give him the information, and don't arrest him because he didn't do anything wrong, I'm defenseless. Lets see now. He was sort of beligerent. Yeah, I think I'll arrest him for disorderly conduct. Wasn't gonna, but if I don't now, I'm gonna be defenseless when the complaint comes in. I know its stretcing things, but I've got to cover my ass. Maybe the judge will believe it, or realize what happened, and just negate everybody's complaint." Not unreasonable from virtually any cop's--or any public servant's--perspective, and I speak as a retired public servant myself.
So, Gates gets arrested. Now, here's another little tidbit from the left side that sort of bugs me. "Why did they have to handcuff him?" Fer Chrissakes, folks, its standard police procedure to handcuff anyone who is under arrest. If the arrestee is considered dangerous, they always cuff him in the back. Gates was cuffed in the front out of recognition of the fact that he was not dangerous. SOP, no insult intended. Lots of lefties need to get educated on this point.
So, that's pretty much the whole story as I see it. The fact that the extraordinary stress Gates was under doesn't cut any ice with lots of white folk,despite the fact that Gates has a long standing reputation of over a quarter century as a judicious, mild-mannered fellow, shows only how virulent and toxic and malignant a force white racism still is in America. Sgt. Crowley ain't the problem. Henry Louis Gates ain't the problem. But much of white America is.
Oh, one other thing, just so nobody gets confused. I'm 66 and white. My mother was German-Irish Catholic, and my dad was of English Protestant stock, raised in the Church of the Nazarene.