Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gates Plays the Race Card at Harvard

The race baiting prompted and promoted by Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a repugnant display of an outdated and backwards way of thinking. As has been continuously reported over the past few days, Professor Gates was arrested after cops responded to a break-in call. The most unfortunate aspect of the situation is that, lead by Gates himself, the matter has devolved into a race issue.

According to all parties, the police officer responded to a neighbor’s call regarding a break-in attempt at Gates’s house. As it turned out the purported burglars were Gates and his driver. Rather than thanking the officer for a speedy response and for potentially saving his property Gates, by his own admission, immediately blew up. He stated that his initial reaction was, “[that a]ll the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and I realized that I was in danger. And I said to him no, out of instinct. I said, ‘No, I will not.” He immediately refused to cooperate and questioned the officer’s intent, stating “Why, because I'm a black man in America?”

This is the crux of the problem. Gates’s immediate, knee-jerk reaction was to assume that the officer’s behavior was racially motivated. Such a thought process most definitely comes from his intense intellectual focus on black issues. Gates has mired himself in a narrow-minded and outdated way of thinking, where the predominant argument revolves around supposed black oppression.

The logical and unbiased response to the situation would not have been to immediately assume racism. From the accounts given by both sides, it is easy to see how the neighbor could have perceived the situation as a burglary. The police, operating only on the fact that a witness allegedly saw a burglary in action, arrived to investigate the situation. The officer’s job is to investigate and ensure that the citizen’s property (and possibly life) is protected. Any citizen not preprogrammed to scream racism would recognize this on its face. A natural reaction would be to cooperate with the officer, immediately try to clear up the misunderstanding, and thank him for his service and desire to protect one’s property.

However, Gates was unable to do any of this. Instead Gates resorted to berating the officer, refusing to cooperate, and escalating the situation. He continually challenged the officer and pushed the race issue— well before he was arrested. As the police report indicates, the officer was merely doing his job and was surprised and confused by Gates’s aggressive racial charges. Only after Gates continued his verbal assault was he arrested for disorderly conduct. This was a direct result of his aggressive behavior— NOT the color of his skin.

Ultimately, this is a problem that occurs far too often in America. There is no indication in either side’s story that there was an issue of racism except in Gates’s head. It is unnecessary for every instance that involves a black citizen and white cop (although as pictures indicate there were black cops present as well) to devolve into calls of racism. The problem is not one of racist cops, but of a worldview that insists on viewing white America as racist and refuses to embrace a post-racial America. Gates admits his disdain for post-racialism in his interview with The Root. This obsession with fighting non-existent white racism only serves to concoct racial tensions where they did not exist before.

This is the real underlying problem. It needs to be corrected in order for America as a whole and the black community in particular to fully accept the successes of the Civil Rights movement and move on to tackle real issues. Gates should be ashamed of his tantrum and the harm he has done to quest to end racial issues in America.


  1. Josh--

    “Gates has mired himself in a narrow-minded and outdated way of thinking, where the predominant argument revolves around supposed black oppression.”

    That’s quite an accusation about someone I doubt you’re that familiar with outside of this story. I won’t call Crowley racist based solely on this incident, but I would say that racial tensions in Boston have long roots, as evidenced by the outrage over forced busing just over a generation ago.

    I noticed you didn’t reference Obama’s comments last night. Do you believe they reveal a “black militant” worldview, as Rush Limbaugh believes? I’m curious.

    I posted some other thoughts about this incident here:


  2. While I admit that I'm not an expert in Gates's work, it is clear from a perusal of his work and his reaction to the incident of where he is coming from. The field which Gates studies in is one that studies racial inequities (amongst other things) in America. The supposed scholarly approach taken at these instutions and the people that take part in such study are insulated and in many ways disconnected with reality. Gates's knee-jerk reaction says it all. His own dialogue- as posted on his publication The Root- gives ample insight into his way of thought (read it carefully you'll get a good feel for his mode of thought). It is beyond me how racial profiling can be even a remote possibility when the cop was CALLED to the scene.

    As for a militant worldview- well read my latest post. I think Obama messed up, but I wouldn't call it militant.


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