I’ve been following the blogosphere’s reaction to Henry Louis Gates’s was-it-racial-profiling? arrest with increasing dismay over people’s ability to jump to all sorts of conclusions. There’s an interesting new analysis by AP writer Jesse Washington that attempts to reconstruct both Gates’s and arresting officer Crowley’s points of view, as the incident unfolded. One of the most fascinating things about it is the writer’s clear belief that a narrative approach will help readers to better sympathize with both parties: as someone who responds well to stories, I’m on board with that, though I also wonder if the “re-creation” of the event will also lead readers to assume a certainty about “what actually happened,” a certainty we’ll probably never really have.
So far, my favorite commentary on the event has been from Edward Gilbreath:
Those who say Professor Gates was completely wrongheaded and unreasonable aren’t willing to take seriously the history (both distant and recent) that has defined the relationship between African American men and law enforcement. And those who say Officer James Crowley was just a racist, rogue cop are not willing to take seriously this man’s totality of experiences as both a public servant and a human being.
And, as Gilbreath says in the comments on his post, “God help us all.”