Prof. Gates Says He Received Death And Bomb Threats

Historians in the News

Black Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. on Sunday joked about his arrest by a white police officer, but also described receiving death threats and dreaming about being arrested at the White House.


In his first public appearance since sharing a beer at the White House on Thursday with the officer and President Barack Obama, Gates said the national debate over racial profiling sparked by his arrest shows that issues of class and race still run "profoundly deep" in the United States.

"They have not been resolved at all," he said, speaking to a crowd of more than 150 who came to see him at the Martha's Vineyard Book Festival.

Gates was mostly light-hearted during his speech and even poked fun at himself after a man in the crowd told him he admired his sense of humor.

"I should have been funnier in the kitchen of my house on July 16," he said.

But Gates also described how the incident and the subsequent national debate affected him personally.

He said he had to shut down his public e-mail and change his cell phone number after receiving numerous death and bomb threats, including one that read, "You should die; you're a racist."
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Donald Wolberg - 8/5/2009

Mr. Gates seems to have a need to advertise himself, whether as a victim of imagined or real abuses by law enforcement, or as the vicrtim of "thrests" of one kind or another. Of course ordinary folks like us do not need to endure the rigors of "importance" (real or imagined), and we should hope Mr. Gates overcomes his illusions (or delusions) of resounding significance. One must wonder what the defamed and abused police officer and police department think about the continued need of Mr. Gates for seeking to extend his Warhol momments. But then, there may not be a limit to the need for self-importance.