Contrasting Gates and Dylan

Here’s a very interesting contrast, the Professor Gates story and the Bob Dylan story. Both men were reported as suspicious looking. Both men were in neighborhoods where they were a minority. Both men were then confronted by police, but then things got markedly different from there.

The police, when first confronting Gates, asked for identification and Gates demanded to know why. When it was explained to Gates by the officer that he was investigating a report of a possible break in and that’s why he wanted to see some identification, Gates allegedly said, “why, because I’m a black man in America?” He later went on to allegedly say, “you have no idea who you’re messing with.”

When Dylan was confronted, he identified himself and explained what he was doing there. When asked for identification, he said he had none. When the officer asked him to get in the car to go verify who he is with the tour buses, he complied without incident. No, “why, because I’m a white man in a minority area?” No “you have no idea who you’re messing with.”

At the end of the Gates incident, we have the nation abuzz over the story and about race in this country, with even the President weighing in. After the Dylan incident, I’m willing to bet most of you didn’t even hear about it. Instead, it’s just some amusing story about how a young cop couldn’t recognize an older music legend. Oh, ain’t that cute? Now that’s largely because of how differently Dylan reacted of course, but let’s pretend for a moment that the neighborhood was the Hamptons and perhaps Miles Davis instead of Dylan, but Miles reacted just as gracefully as Dylan. I’m willing to bet that you would have heard the story then. Oh the news media would be playing up the racial thing, and the nation would be abuzz about race and racial profiling. See, have a white man look at a house for sale in a minority neighborhood, and when the police investigate this suspicious behavior, not a problem. If a black man was reported to the cops after walking up to look at a house for sale in whiteyland, oh that’s evil racial profiling.

So yeah, we have a long way to go with race relations in America but hell, I think a lot of it is due to people being reactionary asses, double standards, and weasels looking to exploit it for personal gain or to increase ratings.

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8 Responses to “Contrasting Gates and Dylan”

  1. There's no question that Dylan handled his encounter with the cops much more astutely than Gates did. I agree that Gates foolishly exacerbated his situation, but I still believe the cop was more heavy-handed than necessary. What part did race play in it? Only Gates and the cop who arrested him can know the answer to that.

  2. Well, it's about time I stumble into the new blog site. Well done. I was beginning to get irritated with your old blogger site, to the point that I'd avoid it if i wanted to get in quick, , because it would take so long to load onto the screen. This one is much zippier.

    OK. Enough pats on the back.

    Dylan handled it better, because Dylan's a bloody genius. Gates may be smart, but he's no Bob Dylan. Dylan probably had the whole scene figured out in a glance, knew exactly how to handle the cops and got a free ride to the Hotel to boot.

  3. That's true, he did get a free ride. How clever. Of course Gates didn't need a ride, or did he?

  4. I don't think anybody knows exactly what was said in that house, and as far as I know there's no recorded proof that either man said what the other has accused him of saying. I think that cop is a racist ass, but probably no more so than any other cop that may have wound up in this situation–sadly, probably a good deal less (Gates wasn't roughed up, or shot).

    I think Gates probably forgot for a few minutes that, Harvard or not, he was a black man dealing with an armed white cop. And however righteous his anger may have been, it's just not smart money to to give a cop (any cop, color aside) reasons to pump you full of warning shots, even if they are on your property. That said, I'd have quietly complied, or tried to, discreetly memorized his badge number, gone to my lawyer, and sued the ass off of, said cop, the police department, and the county. Hit 'em where it hurts: their wallets, and barring that, their reputations.

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