An amazingly biased piece about Henry Lois Gates Jr. made the "cover story" in the National and World section of my paper. Written by AP writer Hillel Italie, it is so bad, and so lacking in actual news, the mind wobbles.
Gates rarely has been considered a dangerous man. Gregarious, outgoing, media savvy - yes. But in the years after the incident in Keyser, W.Va., his unrelenting focus on black life in America was intellectual. He has written essays, compiled reference works, searched for slave narratives, produced documentaries, assembled a mighty team of colleagues at Harvard.
"He's unquestionably one of the great public intellectuals. He puts people together, he makes a million speeches. He's on airplanes a lot. I think he has 50 honorary degrees by now," says David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, for which Gates has been a contributor.
Yea. So? How come the writer isn't explaining the clean record of Sgt. James Crowley? What is the point? Does one's life experience somehow "prove" he didn't act like an ass? That he evidently has zero respect for our police officers, and that he should have been treated like a VIP because he's a part of the intellectual elite?
Reached Thursday by telephone, Gates told The Associated Press he had no further comments to make about the incident, in which he was suspected of breaking into a house - his own - and then charged with disorderly conduct when he raged at a police officer.
This recount is do devoid of context. How about the fact that the house had been long been empty? And that a neighbor had, in fact, seen two men breaking into the house. Because, that's what they were doing. Breaking in. That it was their own house? That was to be determined after the cop showed up. Yet, Gates apparently was offended even by the accusation.
But, I digress. The best part of the piece is this:
He's entrepreneurial. He has an eye for investments and for networks that are a potential source of support. He has an eye for talent, for bringing in the best people he can to Harvard. And he has an eye for the media, for positioning himself and knowing how to present a story."
He has told his own story in a memoir, "Colored People." Gates was born in 1950 in Piedmont, W.Va., then a segregated mill community. His first knowledge of whites was through television, in sitcoms such as "The Life of Riley," which featured a factory worker, like Gates' dad. His family initially had little interest in protest, wondering why blacks would want to eat at white-owned restaurants since it was well established that whites couldn't cook.
Ahem. See what I'm talking about?