July 22, 2009

Harvard Scholar Charges Dropped!

Is it racism or not? That's the big question as America debates the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, arrested inside his own home after a neighbor reported a possible break in. People have very varied opinions on this case, but whether it was "racial" or not it seems clear the police officer did not act in a professional manner, and made decisions based on his ego being offended rather than any legal offense.

Professor Gates may or may not have had an emotional reaction, but even if he did, he was being treated like a criminal for being inside his own house! Surely it's understandable to lose your cool a bit if this happens to you. And a police officer is supposed to be able to handle high emotions and stay focused on his job of enforcing the law, not taking emotional reactions personally. So even if it wasn't about race (and it probably was), the officer was still in the wrong, whther it was a Harvard Scholar or not, and it's good the charges were dropped.

Harvard Scholar Charges Dropped

"Gates is invested in black life, black history, black art, and black literature, but he has managed to achieve a largely post-political and even substantially post-racial existence...Then he was arrested in his own home...In a moment of overzealous policing a young officer in Cambridge managed to handcuff and detain the living embodiment of post-racial possibility..."

Harvard Scholar Charges Dropped

Posted at July 22, 2009 3:55 AM

What phases me most is, how could a cop in the Harvard neighborhood possibly not know who Henry Gates is? He's a star. His work is sold at Borders. He's required reading in undergraduate English courses across the country. It's true that the rather apparent racial profiling is what the public should be concerned about, and what should stir moral outrage. But personally, I can't get over how big an oaf that cop must have been.

Posted by: Rebecca Starr at July 22, 2009 11:54 PM

You obviously have not spent any time as an African American Male! If you had, you would know exactly how, why and for what reason Dr. Gates responded the way that he did!
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Posted by: runescape gold at July 23, 2009 3:28 AM

We have three observations about the Harvard professor incident:

1. We find it interesting that the fact that this was the professor's home was evidently not established early on way before the dispute escalated;

2. We find it fascinating that the versions of two members of society, who most would ordinarily view as responsible and honest citizens (this obviously does not include politicians), would vary so dramatically from a factual point of view.

3. Finally, considering that the reading and viewing public were not present at the scene (and thus have no first hand knowledge), and that there is no video tape to our knowledge of the sequence of events and what was said, how so many have formed conclusions, and made assumptions, about who did what and who was wrong.

There are some things which Professor Gates might have considered upon the arrival of the police, no matter how incensed he may have been.

Posted by: Reggie Greene / The Logistician at July 24, 2009 2:47 PM

That's exactly right: How come so many people are forming opinions about what happened or are assuming what the officer was or wasn't thinking during his encounter with Mr. Gates?

I heard both sides of the story and her is the conflict: Mr Gates was indignant because he was being questioned, but the police officer was responding to a possible break in. So Mr. Gates was allegedly "comfortable" in his own home but hadn't--even for a moment, put himself in the officer's shoes. I'm sorry, but police are responding to emergencies all the time and the Mr. Gates to have (allegedly) responded to the initial officer's questions as if he was racist, is simply wrong. It reminds me of the time Cynthia McKenny got angry with a Capital policeman a few years ago because he did not know who she was! Just because an officer is asking a man a question, doesn't mean he's racist. Maybe he was doing his job. Mr. Gates did not need to turn this into a racial incident. To me it's amazing that the neighbor who called the police did not know who Mr. Gates was! How can you not know your neighbor?

Mr. Gates was arrested for his behavior, not because of him being in his own home. I'm sorry, but not every incident that occurs in this country between white and black folks is racist. Blacks commit crimes and so do whites. Until we know who we're deeling with, blacks and whites need to learn how to respond--not react. Police officers are trained to react quickly in the midst of possible dangerous situations but during conversations.

This is a very good example of two people in entirely different mind sets, not being able to communicate. I wouldn't call it a racist incident UNLESS there is a taped recording of the conversation. Maybe it was or maybe it wasn't, but to jump to conclusions is simply not wise.

Posted by: Tom at July 24, 2009 6:12 PM

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