Racialist outrage and embarrassment in Cambridge!

Who knows how long this rancid little melodrama will run. If entities like The Washington Post and professional race baiters like Sharpton manage to gin up the race engine sufficiently, it may last quite a while. Apparently Gates has asked for a personal apology from the Cambridge police: I hope he does not get it.

Two points. The first cannot be properly investigated in the present climate of racial hypersensitivity, so I bequeath it to a future historian of American culture. You can scarcely find a mention of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. that does not assure you of his eminence and scholarly distinction. Don't believe it. To call him second rate is a calumny upon respectable mediocrity. He is a desperately pedestrian scholar who, except for the accident of skin color, would be lucky to be teaching at the University of Southern North Dakota, Hoople. Instead he is the Yada-yada-yada Professor of racial grievance &c &c at Harvard. Some future anthropologist will set the record straight.

The second point concerns Gates's favorite (really his only) intellectual gambit: playing the race card. His scholarship is concerned with nothing else, and he has just demonstrated that his academic interests are all of a piece with his amour propre. Gates claims to want to push beyond racialism, but his every move, personal as well as intellectual, depends upon and reinforces it. The philosopher Sidney Hook summed up some of the liabilities of this attitude:

as morally offensive as is the expression of racism wherever it is found, a false charge of racism is equally offensive, perhaps even more so, because the consequences of a false charge of racism enable an authentic racist to conceal his racism by exploiting the loose way the term is used to cover up his actions. The same is true of a false charge of sexism or anti-Semitism. This is the lesson we should all have learned from the days of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Because of his false and irresponsible charges of communism against liberals, socialists, and others among his critics, many communists and agents of communist influence sought to pass themselves off as Jeffersonian democrats or merely idealistic reformers. They would all complain they were victims of red-baiting to prevent criticism and exposure.

Wise words. It's a pity that the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University has yet to take them to heart.

UPDATE: So now the President of the United States, when not busy wrecking the US economy or bowing to tyrants, involves himself in police matters. Yes that's right, folks, when asked about GatesGate, Obama said that the Cambridge police acted "stupidly" by arresting a chap who was loudly abusing them. Way to go, Pres!