back to the beers

Old-ish news, I know, but I wanted to follow up.  At first there didn’t seem to be much to say about President Obama’a beer gathering with Sgt. Crowley and Professor Gates.  And Joe Biden.  But I found a couple of interesting if not insightful commentaries, one from Gates himself…

After Beer, Skip Gates Offers Substance

By MIKE SECCOMBE

…Nuance, that’s what’s been missing. And that was what those who attended his talk on Sunday got from Skip Gates.

He did not come across as an angry black man, but as a wry and funny one. The cop who busted him, Sgt. James Crowley, was no racist redneck either, apparently, but a wry and funny guy too.

“This is not a joke,” Professor Gates told his audience. “I mean, we really hit it off at the White House.

“I said to him: ‘I would have sworn you were six feet eight inches tall.’

“And he said: ‘I used to be. I’ve lost two or three feet in the last two weeks’

“How can you be mad at a guy like that?” he said.

He wants to know Sergeant Crowley better. Maybe a family dinner. Maybe a baseball or basketball game.

It has been a stressful couple of weeks. Professor Gates has not been back to his Cambridge home since the arrest and the university has recommended he move house. He has been forced to shut down his public e-mail because of “crazy, wacko messages like ‘you’re a racist and should die.’ ” He has had to change his phone numbers, which were published in the police report. There have been bomb and death threats.

But did he want to overstate his trauma. He was in jail for four hours, not four weeks, months or years. Unlike so many black and brown victims of racial profiling in this country, he had the best lawyers — Charles Ogletree and Alan Dershowitz.

Beer Summit

Obama’s brew-ha-ha

Clarence Page

Fox News star Glenn Beck said Gates-gate revealed Obama’s “deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.” After being reminded that Obama has numerous white staffers, Beck whipped around in a double-reverse. “I’m not saying that he doesn’t like white people,” he explained. “I’m saying he has a problem.”

Then he said, “This guy is, I believe, a racist.”

“Racist,” I have noticed, has become the sort of taboo tag to whites that the N-word traditionally has been to blacks. Black leaders partly brought this on themselves. Overusing the R-word robs it of its power and it is easy to overuse. Beck and his like are saying that whites can play that game too, even against the half-white and scrupulously evenhanded Obama.

Judging by my far-right e-mailers (some of my most faithful readers, thank you very much), Gates is a “racist” for loudly asking police to leave his house after he had established his identity. Having known Gates for about a decade, I think he was simply overly tired from a trip to China.

And I, my conservative critics say, am a racist for writing that Crowley knew all along that his arrest would not stick (which it didn’t) and that he had the power to defuse Gates’ temper simply by leaving Gates’ home. Instead, Crowley apparently chose to teach Gates a lesson for committing an unwritten offense to police etiquette: “contempt of cop.”

Can’t we all get along? Reports of a “post-racial” America after Obama’s election to theWhite House were greatly exaggerated. If anything, we are a transracial country. As Judge Sonia Sotomayor‘s U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings illustrated, we Americans suspiciously watch one another across racial, ethnic, gender and cultural lines as we uneasily shed our white male supremacist past.

We alert our cultural antennae and react sharply to any signs of preference shown to any group besides the one to which we happen to belong. That’s nothing new for women or nonwhites. Men and whites are still getting used to it.

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