Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Dear Humbly Presumptuous,
The short answer is: no.
Prof. Gates' reaction to the behavior of the policemen is not only understandable: it is in a certain sense precisely the reaction of a sane man, whose rights have been violated.
This was not an exchange at a conference that became heated: this was the power of the state being used to drag a man from his own home and haul him to prison.
It is outrageous.
That Prof. Gates' reaction is more than simply understandable, is visible from another aspect as well: let me illustrate by analogy with pacifists.
The mistake pacifists make is that they assume to erect a personal Christian response to the call to charity, into a principle of justice.
As we are fond of saying: martyrdom may not be by proxy.
Prof. Gates was not simply a private citizen encountering a police officer having a bad day.
He was manhandled because of the color of his skin - and therefore a representative (in the Voegelinian sense of the truth of existence) of all African-Americans, who continue to suffer the indignity of being considered suspects only because of their pigmentation - and even of all Americans, for whom the home is still the ultimissimum refugium, to be defended at all costs, against any power whatsoever.
I strongly disagree with your reading of the matter.