Monday, July 27, 2009


We have developed a tradition of adding "-gate" to every scandal since Watergate, so I've dubbed this Gates-gate. In case you've been on the moon for the last week, I'm referring to the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the respected author, speaker and Harvard professor. Upon returning from a trip, Professor Gates found his front door difficult to open, and he and his driver had to force it open. A well-meaning neighbor called the police to report what she believed was a break-in.

And here's where it seems to go from a silly misunderstanding to something much more sinister. I'm sure Professor Gates wasn't his most charming self; he was exhausted and peeved...but wouldn't you think that a police officer would be used to dealing with people who are tired and frustrated, and unhappy at having to deal with a police officer? This slight, frail, 58-year old gentleman produced identification that proved he was in his own home, yet he was arrested and taken in to custody for several hours. I don't doubt that he displayed some attitude; who wouldn't under those circumstances? We learned the officer called for more back-up: "Keep the cars coming." For one man who walks with a cane? Gates says he asked three times for the officer's name and badge number and was refused each time. The officer claims he provided this information three times.

There was probably some poor behavior on both sides., but it sure looks like a black man can be arrested for simply expressing outrage, for being "uppity," for being black, in his own home.The charges against Gates have already been dropped; I doubt that would have happened if the police believed they had a valid case.

The election of Obama proves this country has made great strides overcoming a history of racism; the arrest of Professor Gates proves we've still got a long, long way to go.

UPDATE -- I just read the arresting officer's report at Smoking Gun. This officer's report is so one-sided, I find it very hard to believe. Here is another version, provided by Gates' attorney.


Anonymous said...

Remember it was the Republican party that overturned slavery. And they where willing to lose their own lives to do it.

Sandy said...

Well, if you think slavery is something of the past, think again... we are shackled to the "ship of state" just as surely as any kidnapped individual from the past - shoved into the hold and told what to do and when and for how long.
Mr. Gates only provides us a window to see that not much has really changed after all.

La Cootina said...

Thank you, Sandy! Republicans were once for less government, now we know they mean less government in the boardroom, more government in everyone else's bedroom. They were once against a "tax and spend" policy; turns out they just preferred a "borrow and spend" strategy.

Unknown said...

Very well said for the last two comments, and the post was great. This whole mess has my head spinning. The assertion that Gates yelled "I'll talk to your mama outside!" I find hilarious. Exactly the words that would come out of the mouth of a Harvard university professor, right?