When I first learned of the arrest of my colleague Professor Henry Louis "Skip" Gates after he stood up to the fascist jackboots of a declasse, ill-educated Cambridge police officer, I was of course angered -- but scarcely shocked. L'Affaire Gates simply aired, in public, the dirty 100-thread-count table linen of an American culture where Harvard faculty assholes still face a daily struggle against profiling, abuse, and insolence.
It will come as no surprise that Skip's arrest was the talk of the Douchebag Room at the Harvard Faculty Club last Friday. I and a group of colleagues had assembled for our weekly lunch; I opted for their competently-prepared Ahi Tuna Tartare and an amusing glass of '05 Hospices de Beaune Premier Cru Cuvee Cyrot-Chaudron. I had noticed that the Franz Fanon Memorial Booth -- Skip's long-reserved lunch spot -- was uncharacteristically empty, and asked our waiter Sergio for an explanation.
"Professor Skeep, he no is come today," said Sergio. "I tink he is in the jail."
Our table exchanged knowing glances, for we knew immediately that Skip was only the latest victim of a system that singles out the Harvard faculty asshole for stigmatization and unequal justice. It is a system that all of us knew too well, and provided an opportunity for an open conversation about our shared experiences as Harvard faculty assholes in America while waiting for Sergio to bring the dessert cart.
One after one came the cascade of stark stories: the rolled eyes of our department secretaries. The Spanish language mockery of our office janitors. The foul gestures of drunken strap-hanging Red Sox lumpenproles aboard the MBTA. The frequent police stops on the highway to Cape Ann and Martha's Vineyard for "Volvoing While Asshole." And then there are the insulting media stereotypes, where we are routinely caricatured as pompous, effete, self-important, irrelevant elitists. All, I might add, by a motley collection of lowbrow inferiors, few of whom have ever published in a peer-reviewed journal. Let alone edit one.
Read the whole thing here.