His Op-ed today contains the following:
Mr. Gates is a friend, and I was selected some months ago to receive an award from an institute that he runs at Harvard. I made no attempt to speak to him while researching this column.
Nosirree, Bobby, don’t you get yourself all confused by the facts. Just join the list of liberals who are most proud of not having had to be there to know what went down there. Only an idiot would actually have had to see what happened at Gates’s house to know that the man was a victim of racist cops run amok. He was doing nothing wrong (disorderly conduct being a civil right, not a misdemeanor), and he was black. Res ipse loquitur.
There is a metamessage in every complaint about race. Every such complaint reveals that people are still complaining about race under the circumstances being complained about. My guess is that most white Americans see what happened at Gates’s house as unexceptional and unexceptionable. All Gates had to do to avoid this mess was behave the way any white man would have behaved in the same situation. Maybe, a white man would have been cut more slack for behaving badly, but then, charges or implications of anti-black racism are, one hopes, uniquely obnoxious, so maybe the reaction it allegedly provoked is the best evidence of its untruth. (Do you think a black man could have pissed off a white cop fifty years ago by accusing him of racism?) But even if Gates were allowed a bit less slack than a white counterpart might have been, that’s the sort of thing one should want to know more about before assuming to be the case. Is Bob Herbert really spilling all that inky bile to say “Crowley should have cut my hotheaded friend some more slack”?
Herbert calls Gates’s offense “being angry while black.” Compare that to “being unjustifiably angry and verbally, race-baitingly abusive while black to a man who is risking his life to protect your home from reported burglars while white.” Do I know that’s what happened? Nope. I wasn’t there!!! Does Herbert know it didn’t? Yes, because he. like Gates, is black for a living and so didn’t have to be there.
DWB stops are unacceptable because the victims are not doing anything that a white person wouldn’t ordinarily do under similar circumstances. Driving is not some misdeed a white man might get away with, and stopping a black man for doing it (and not also exhibiting other antisocial indicia – pimped-out ride, darkened glass, etc.) is racially motivated police action. But in the Gates situation, race may have at most been an unconscious element in a loss of patience. Or maybe not; maybe the accusation of racism, terrible thing that the accuser routinely tells us that it is, more than the race of the accuser, was the accelerant to this particular conflagration.
Such distinctions – the difference between having a short fuse for black citizens and being called a racist by a black man whose house you have come to protect – are lost on racists like Herbert, for whom not inquiring further is a badge of honor. After all, how could an event be symptomatic if it is idiosyncratic? The details can only detract from the outrage. Sometimes, the devil wants no part of the details.