Having recently returned from a trip to China, Gates must have thought he was still there when he was arrested in his own home for disorderly conduct after police arrived to investigate a break in. How does one get arrested for disorderly conduct in his own home when he is the only person there?!? Inside his own home? Who lodged the complaint? Why, it was the police officer who happened to make his way into Mr./Dr. Gates’ home that’s who, and how did he get inside Gates’ home? There is so much wrong with this story, so let’s back up just a bit.
It seems a “neighbor” called police to report two black men breaking into Gates’ home. If this neighbor saw two men, obviously one of them Gates, why didn’t he/she recognize him…I mean after all they are neighbors. That’s problem number one. Our lives are so transient, we don’t take time to know who the people are who live near or around us, and in many cases view people in such close proximity with us suspiciously. But the next problem is worse than that and involves the hot button topic of police brutality/fascism. If you don’t think it exists you haven’t talked to Henry Louis Gates. His questioning of police authority and insistence they treat him as a citizen and not as a criminal is what got him arrested. When anyone comes into your home…..so goes the social customs of America, they either treat you with respect in your own home, or they leave. It appears the police officer did neither; instead he arrested Gates.
What’s ironic is America for the last several weeks has shown images of the police’s crackdown of Iranian dissidents after their elections and condemned the actions of the Iranian government; what US officials have issued statements regarding police brutality against US citizens in America at ANYTIME, and especially after the Gates arrest? The double standard is stark and one more stain on the American fabric of “just-us” justice. Returning from a trip to a totalitarian government, Gates must have thought as he was led away from his home he was in a parallel universe.
We have come a long way, in time, from these two extremes yet socially very little has changed. Check out Jesse Washington’s take on the Gates arrest. It is pointed and disappointing to realize that more than 200 years after this country’s appearance on the international stage we have only barely advanced.