24 July 2009


henry louis gates, jr. is a distinguished professor at harvard university. he is one of four hosts on the PBS series "history detectives", and the host and co-producer of "african american lives." gates is an articulate, gentle man who nevertheless has profoundly clear views on racism. he is 58 years old, and walks with a cane. gates was arrested at his own home, on suspicion of being a burglar, and ignonimously handcuffed and put in the slammer. he was justifiably outraged, and calling a spade a spade, angrily accused the arresting police officers of racial profiling.

yesterday president obama weighed in on the issue, saying that the cambridge police had acted "stupidly". well, guess what. they DID act stupidly. it would have been stupid and prejudicial to arrest any person in his/her own home on such transparently flimsy charges, based on a phone call from a neighbor, when the suspect had produced identification. to arrest a highly respected and highly recognizable public figure who happens to be black, yeah, that's pretty stupid. any reasonable person, black or white, would have reacted with the moral outrage expressed by both professor gates and president obama.

here is a NYTimes editorial debate on the advisability of president obama's remarks, along with a CNN link to a video of his delivery.

1 comment:

  1. note: following are remarks by john scalzi in his blog "whatever" --

    Regarding the president’s comment about Henry Louis Gates, Jr. being arrested in his own home, I find his response unobjectionable: Gates was legally in his own place, and even if he were being rude and antagonistic to the police officer in question, which it appears he was, that in itself shouldn’t have gotten him led off in cuffs. Being rude and antagonistic isn’t against the law. Also, my understanding is Gates was charged with “loud and tumultuous behavior in a public space,” which makes one wonder when it was one’s private property somehow became a public space. As did the president, I’ll note I wasn’t there, so there’s likely details that I’m missing. But from what I know, yeah, this wasn’t exactly a shining moment for the Cambridge Police Force, and wouldn’t have been even without the national attention.