Feature

Arresting Henry Louis Gates Jr.

What the arrest of a prominent black scholar—at his own home—says about racism in America

"We can put all that kumbaya we’re-post-racial crap in the toilet," said Toure in The Daily Beast. Henry Louis Gates Jr.—the nation's most prominent black academic—was arrested on his own front porch last week by a Cambridge, Mass., officer investigating a burglary report. Yes, the U.S. now has its first black president—but if this kind of thing can still happen, racism is clearly alive and well in America.

"I'm generally a fan of Henry Louis Gates Jr., said Jonah Goldberg in National Review, but there's more to this story than the "alleged racial angle." According to the police report, Gates shouted angrily at the officer after he saw Gates inside the house and asked for ID. "If I were the arresting officer, I might wonder why my version of events deserves so much less credulity."

"Even if the cops' story is 100 percent accurate," said David Bernstein in The Volokh Conspiracy, "I don't see what the point of arresting Gates was. Yelling at a cop isn't a crime." Gates was minding his own business in his own home—the officer should have walked away.

Authorities are dropping the disorderly conduct charge against Henry Louis Gates Jr., said Tracy Jan and Andrew Ryan in The Boston Globe, but the "outrage and charges of racism" the case provoked are another matter. And to think it all started when someone saw Gates—returning from filming a PBS documentary in China—struggling to open his own door, with help from his driver.

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