Choking on a wishbone.

I’ve been reading over at Margaret and Helen off and on since Fox introduced me to them months ago.  They pretty much never disappoint.  And yesterday Helen wrote about Gates Gate and the big wind that has blown up around what happened at 17 W____ Street¹ at 12:44 in the afternoon on July 16th.

There are so many things about what happened to Professor Gates that make me angry, and just as many things about what has happened in the aftermath of his arrest that make me even angrier. 

Helen’s post made me smile, and I’m right with her … mostly.  It’s just that I have such a bad taste in my mouth over this.  Yes, the president’s answer at the press conference and the ensuing Beer Summit was definitely a distraction from the healthcare discussion, but what happened to Professor Gates wasn’t a small thing that we shouldn’t have been paying attention to.  I actually think the craziness surrounding the Brew-ha-ha was an attempt to distract us from what happened to Professor Gates, to distract us from actually having to get (back) into that conversation none of us wants to have … the one about race, about white privilege, about how things went badly for Gates and how much more badly they might have gone if he hadn’t had some ID to produce quickly and easily, about whether or not Officer Crowley would have found an elderly, cranky, white man with a marked limp and a cane ‘tumultuous’ enough to require arrest. 

I agree with Helen that we should continue the work on healthcare reform.  And on about ten thousand other pressing matters that need our government’s attention.  But our president’s a fairly intelligent guy, and he’s already shown that he can do more than one thing at a time.  Yes, go back to the healthcare debate, but that doesn’t mean we should try to push the Gates affair under the rug, make like nothing much happened and fuss over who chose what brand of beer.

I know we aren’t going to have this conversation.  Not yet, anyway.  It’s stuck in our throats, however.  We’ve been gagging on it almost 400 years, and it’s high time for us to either swallow it or cough it up.


¹  It drives me crazy that on the 911 tapes we hear Professor Gates’ address over and over and over.  Just in case the people who’ve been making those death threats weren’t sure where to find him …


4 thoughts on “Choking on a wishbone.

  1. Gates did say at the Martha’s Vineyard book fair that he has received death threats and Harvard police advised him to move! But yeah–it’s all been “blown out of proportion” and both sides “overreacted”…Obama will continue to disappoint on this issue b/c he can’t risk his presidency by pissing white folks off, and any stance he takes on the side of justice will be seen as militant “tribalism”…that’s why I wasn’t doing backflips when he got elected; white supremacy hasn’t shifted an inch.


  2. I meant to leave a comment here before, but I must have gotten sidetracked.

    In any case, I’m glad that you’ve written a bit on this. I found the whole story upsetting, for many different reasons. But I really hoped that it would at least lead to some progress at bringing the underlying issues to light. You’re so right that it’s time our society had that conversation.


  3. Pingback: Cold Spaghetti » Blog Archive » Just Posts: August 2009

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