Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gatesgate


There are a few things that don't make sense to me about this whole ordeal involving a one Professor Henry Louid Gates, Jr. over there at Harvard and they've been bugging me ever since this incident was reported in the mainstream media. Let's take a look at what keeps me up at night, shall we? First there's the outrage.

After it hit the airwaves, Professor Gates was clearly acting outraged and leveled some extremely seriously allegations and accusations against Sgt. Crowley by calling him "a racist", "a rogue cop" and someone "who shouldn't even be a cop." While appearing on Black in America with Soledad O'Brien, Gates stated, "...this man clearly was a rogue policeman." Gates is vehemently claiming to be the "victim" of racial profiling. OK? So, remember all of the outrage.

Next, add to above said outrage that Professor Gates is categorized in every media report as being something to the effect of "one of the nation's most prominent African American scholars". Every report has to mention at least once how brilliant he is, how accomplished he is, etc. (And maybe it's because I'm not black, but I had never heard of the guy before he was arrested. Not that it means anything, but I'd like to know exactly what "most prominent" entails. It's a fair question.)

And here's where it gets confusing for me: This incident first broke in the
Harvard Crimson on July 20. Prof. Gates was arrested on the 16th. When the Crimson attempted to contact Professor Gates to get his side of the story, they were told by his assistant, a one Joanne Kendall, that the professor "...was away from Cambridge for the summer filming a documentary and would only be making periodic returns." The Harvard Crimson could not reach Gates for comment, but they did get in touch via email with a one Charles Ogletree (who is representing Gates as, of course, his attorney) who stated that "Gates has been "traumatized" by the entire affair and is now resting comfortably in his summer home in Martha's Vineyard." Yeah, that sounds traumatic. Ugh.

So we have an outraged, traumatized, allegedly wrongfully arrested, allegedly discriminated against AND an alleged victim of racial profiling who is said to be one of the "most prominent scholars" in the country. (Snooty is what we down here in the lower classes call that.) Got it?

So why wasn't he outraged then? If he was SO outraged, why did it take him FOUR days to say anything and even then, it wasn't he who brought it up! And it can't be because he was too "traumatized", as Mr. Ogletree there was perfectly able to speak for him and give an account of what happened. Perhaps Professor Gates took a break from all of the traumatization to brief Mr. Ogletree on what happened. I really don't know. But I know that usually if you're outraged about something, something that has happened to you, you're not hunkering down at Martha's Vineyard for four days. You're especially not playing it low key if you're the "most prominent scholar" in the country, are you? I don't think I am.

In fact, if I were arrested for something that I thought was racially motivated and I was one of the top thinker types (clearly, by that sentence, I am not one of those top thinker types. I do, however, make up words as I go along, and that's gotta say something.) on the subject of African Americans, I'd be telling Ogletree to get a podium set up and alert the press that I was having a news conference when I got sprung from the joint. (And it's not because of all of the "trauma" that he didn't do something like that and instead slinked off to that chick's vineyard. Come on! He was at the police station for four hours. That's hardly traumatic. It's not like there was even time for someone to make him their bitch. Those Harvard types...awfully thin skinned, aren't they?)

I'm thinking that if this was that big of an issue for Prof. Gates, that it would have been an issue after his release from the police station four hours after his arrest. And I mean immediately after. Why the wait? I have no explanation for it. I don't even have speculation. Well, OK, I have some irresponsible speculation. And that would be that he realized, whilst lounging in the vineyard of Martha, that he overreacted and that, while whether or not he needed to be arrested, his behavior (as the law is written) certainly warranted his being arrested. But he doesn't seem like the type that is going to admit that he made a mistake and that he was wrong. He's a Harvard man. And you can tell a Harvard man. You just can't tell him much.

Of course, the crappiness of the press and the media these days means that this question has never been brought up. Why'd it take you so long to start screaming that all white people are racist, Professor? Why the four days? Oh, because it wasn't racial profiling and you knew it wasn't? But four days later you decided it would be a good way to further your "prominence" by coming out and saying that we're still a big, fat racist country? (Oh, we're big and fat all right! But racist?! Still?! Did we NOT just elect a black guy President of the United States? How racist can we possibly be? What, exactly, would it take for you to show you that we're NOT racist? Because I keep hearing how we are, but I never hear what you want done differently.) Do yourself and, more importantly, Sgt. Crowley a favor and apologize to the man for labeling him a racist in front of the entire country. If you think that it's SO bad to be the victim of racism (and it IS; I'm certainly not saying that it isn't!), then how bad would it be to be labeled at the racist? Pretty bad. Even worse when you're NOT one.

But please don't wait four more days to do so. Try to realize when something needs immediate attention and act accordingly, would ya?

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