Thursday, July 23, 2009

Racism, Dr Henry Louis Gates and the Delaware Blogosphere

What's really remarkable about the whole Gates event is the immediate willingness of many people to employ one of two methods to trash Dr Gates:

(1) To claim, based on personal experience or just personal philosophy that Dr Gates should not have responded loudly and aggressively to the police officer's inquiries. The cops have a tough job. Cooperation gets you out of the situation much better than confrontation. Gates showed little grace or tact.

Give me a break. Not a single one of these commenters that I can find has been subject to the subtle police-state-style harassment that my black academic and consulting colleagues deal with on a regular basis. I have one colleague I think of as the magnet for the predictability with which the TSA will pull him out of line for a supposedly random secondary screening. I have been through airport security dozens of times with this individual, who is a senior scholar and--ironically--a security consultant to DHS--and three out of every four times he goes through, he is pulled.

I have a colleague in Information Sciences who works in Delaware but lives in New Jersey. He drives a Mercedes. He is in great shape, and looks 25 instead of his real age of 48. Remember the old NJ State Police driving while black profiling? Not only was this man pulled over seven times in three weeks on the New Jersey Turnpike, it is a fantasy to suggest that things have gotten much better. Last summer he drove his Mercedes down through Delmarva toward Virginia Beach and was stopped twice--never ticketed--because the locals had been promised big rewards by the DEA if they helped them shut down the drug highway down Route 13. One deputy even told him, "You don't want to get stopped any more, sell the car."

How it really stacks up is like a black NCO told me about ten years ago. Ever heard this joke? Question: When does a black man become a nigger? Answer: When he leaves the room..

And point number two is that if Dr Gates' critics can't find something substantive about his conduct to rail against, they will just suggest--and none too subtly--that this major American scholar is really a black man who has left the room.

Here's a scattering from my own comments section and a few other places:


Third, he's only "pre-eminent" because he's a professor of "black studies." Funny how someone like Thomas Sowell who operates in a REAL discipline doesn't garner such a title.

Sorry, my friend, but here you are full of it. Since the 1987 publication (by Oxford University Press) of Figures in Black: Words, Signs, and the "Racial" Self through his most recent 2009 (by Princeton University Press) of Lincoln on Race and Slavery, Dr Gates has earned the respect of liberal and conservative scholars across numerous disciplinary lines.

Then there is the ever-gutsy Anonymous:

Black Studies is a real discipline. So is Turf Management.

Or his equally cowardly and grammatically impaired brother Anonymous:

Gatres a loud mouth black panther wannabe scholar trumping up racial tension be screaming racism.

Notice what passes for legitimate attack here: lampoon the discipline and then lampoon the individual.

Anybody commenting here bright enough to have read any of Dr. Gates' work? Hube? Want to 'fess up that it was your preconceptions and not actual knowledge talking?

I've read Dr Gates' work for years, and while I don't agree with all of it, the man is arguably brilliant, an intellectual heavy hitter, and frankly--in terms of longstanding contribution to our understanding of American culture--so far out of Thomas Sowell's league that to make the comparison suggests that you know little about either man's work and are commenting based on political ideology rather than real knowledge.

But here's my favorite, as Anoni attempts over at Colossus to make Dr Gates into a gay black man trying to hide the fact that he's getting some on the down-low:

The next door neighbor calls police after seeing two black men wearing backpacks trying to force the front door.

According to Gates's lawyer those two men were Gates and a friend.

No News Report mentions the friend

The police report makes no mention of the friend

any further speculation on who the friend is and why he hid and how that explains Gates bizzare behavior would unkind and not politically correct.

the guilty flee (or in this cased rant and rave) when none presue.

So instead of dealing with what happened, we'll just trash Dr Gates as a wanna-be scholar in a fake discipline who is probably a closet homo.

Maybe the cop should have demanded to check his freezer for the body parts of the dismembered children that Dr Gates was luring into his house to molest and then kill, so he could gather inspiration to hit the keyboard and spew racist black panther filth.

Post-racial America my ass.


Anonymous said...

Steve, here's the thing: As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't matter who Dr. Gates is, it's either pure racism or police run amuck:).

Nancy Willing said...

The cop's photo is up. He is a dude alright. He also is trying to hide behind having performed CPR on a black man once as if it means he isn't a racist.

I don't know if he is a racist. I do know that he used poor judgement in not stepping off as soon as Gates established that he belonged in the home and was not breaking in. The arrest was bogus and inexcusable and an apoloty is warranted.

Shirley Vandever said...

I don't have a strong opinion on this, because, like Obama said in his press conference, I don't have all of the facts.

I think there might be a little culpability on both sides. The press, of course, won't help matters.

Here's another side of the story:

Mike W. said...

I'm amazed Obama called the entire police department "stupid" and implied that they're racist even though he admitted to not having the facts.

If I attempt to break into my own home late at night, in the dark, in an area where there have been break-ins I wouldn't consider it out of the realm of possibility for the cops to show up and ask that I verify my identity.

Gates had been away for some time (in China) and he AND the taxi driver were trying to pry open the door. All the cops know is they got a call about 2 black men trying to break into the house. That's not racial profiling. They are responding to a call.

The cops show up and Gates gets pissy & angry and makes the whole thing into a race issue.

The fact that Gates is a renowned scholar is irrelevant to this whole thing.

Shirley Vandever said...

It just came across that the officer involved has taught a class in racial profiling for 5 years, and was hand-picked for that job by a former commissioner who happens to be black.

I'm not saying profiling doesn't exist; just appears not be be the case here as more information comes out.

Anonymous said...

Rick Jenson is a complete a total liar who makes shit up from whole cloth. While he claimed he saw the "black in America 2" program last night, he denied he saw Prof. Gates (who was on the program), spelling out exactly how the incident went down. The Prof had just come back from a trip to China with his driver, the door was jammed, he asked the driver to assist. They got the door opened he went in, and then came a knock at the door, it was a Police Officer. The officer stood outside and the Professor remained inside. The cop said, "there has been a complaint of a breaking and enter here". The Professor said, you must be mistaken this is my house, I am Professor Gates from Harvard. The cop asked for ID, while the Professor moved away from the door to get his ID the cop followed him in the house. The professor showed the ID and his drivers license proving he was the owner. The Professor had also been working on a documentary about profiling and race relations in America. As the police officer opened the door to leave, the Professor noticed a many cop cars outside with lights flashing. Another officer actually put cuffs on Gates not Crowley. He handcuffed him behind his back. The Professor complained he had a medical problem with his shoulders and asked for the cuffs to be removed. One black officer suggested they cuff him in the front and that was done. Its called racial profiling. The cops obviously didnt believe the Professor was who he said he was, and because he was an "uppity negro" the cops were bent on taking him in. The police officer also put information into his complaint which was false another reason why the whole case was thrown out. I hope Gates sues the hell out that police force and the officers involved be sent to re-educational race relations camp.

Tom Joyner was also on the program detailing how many times he has been pulled over by the police..only because he was black. During one stop, Joyner stated, "I am Tom Joyner a radio talk show host at WOR". The cop said, "yeah and I am President of the United States".

We should all be concerned about this profiling garbage. They have committed heinous crimes against muslims because they are muslim and therefore suspected terrorists. You can ask any black in this country how they are terrified of being picked up if they drive a nice car, are well dressed because they dont fit the cops profile of a "poor black person".

So what if he gave mouth to mouth to another black person, what does that have to do with illegally entering this black mans house without a warrant? After watching that show last night, there is no doubt in my mind that blacks are being singled out by white cops...profiling.
There is a reason why black men are filling our jails and prisons and not all of them are guilty but at the mercy of the "justice" system. "In here there is no God".

Nancy Willing said...

Barack Obama did not call the police dept. stupid. He said that they actedly stupidly. There's a difference believe it or not.

Shirley, I am not compelled to learn that Crowley was 'hand picked' to teach profiling. If he wanted to teach the uppity negro a lesson in respect, that ain't exactly what he should have been doing under the circumstances.

A man was accused of being the perp and accosted in his home. Once it was established that he belonged there, the cops job was to diffuse the emotions. That is what a good public servant of the peace would do. He sucks.

Steve Newton said...

Actually, I have never suggested that the police officer (whose name I have never used in a post or a comment) engaged in racial profiling.

What offends me most about the incident are the people who are responding to Dr Gates in profoundly racist terms, and the people who refuse to see police-state issues in the officer's conduct.

Delaware Watch said...

Well said, Steve. A very powerful piece of writing and it hits the mark perfectly.

Hube said...

Steve: I freely admit that my comment about Black Studies not being a "real" discipline was a cheap shot, as well as the insinuation of Gates working in said "non-real" discipline. It was instigated by the usual antics of anonone in your previous thread, but I knew better. I regret it, and I retract the statement.

That doesn't mean that someone like Sowell doesn't warrant such a "title" like Gates, but I don't think we'll ever see it, at least from the MSM who seem all too eager to attach such a mantle to someone like Gates merely b/c of politics.

In addition, anyone else's comments are their own. I didn't even see anon's comments at Colossus since I am currently OOT.

Lastly, Steve, you're operating largely in this post out of your own personal experience. I am, as well. I can say "post-racial America, my ass" too, but for entirely different reasons. This does not make my POV any less valid than yours, and in addition your opinion that Gates is "so far ahead" of Sowell intellectually is just that -- your opinion. Or do you think that b/c you're a college professor this just "makes it so?"

Sorry. If so, forget that shit. I've read some of Gates' stuff in the past and while I do think it is well reasoned and written, I hardly think it is "far beyond" Sowell.

Hube said...

What offends me most about the incident are the people who are responding to Dr Gates in profoundly racist terms

This is pure bullshit, Steve. Your initial post was what was "racial," as was Gates' initial reaction to the entire fucking incident!! And then you have the gall to say you're offended by my so-called "racial terminology" by calling Black Studies not a real discipline? (Which, again, I regret saying.)

That's some balls there, prof. And I'm calling you on it.

Anonymous said...


pleae expound on the proper libertarian way to police a community.

rc said...

Point of view based on personal experience is extremely relevant.

It is why many black people view the police as they do.

It is also why many poor non blacks see class issues and issues of power where others might see racism.

This is not saying racism does not exist, it does and it should be fought.

Police abuse of power of any nature should be fought. Knowing when to stand up though and when to stand down dictates whether or not you live to fight another battle.

When a gun is held to your head it don't much matter the color of the person holding it.

There are also other more subtle abuses of power practiced by many white and black, persons of privilege, badge or no badge.

Yes we have a police state. Perpetuated by those who fear that which they do not understand.

Though I will never know what it is like to walk in a black mans shoes because I am not black. I do know what it is like to walk side by side with a black man ax in hand.

I've never read Sowell or Gates. Would I understand discrimination or abuse of power any better were I to do so?