PLEDGE NOW
Henry Louis Gates on D'Souza, Gingrich

WBUR

Henry Louis Gates Jr. — literary critic, historian, scholar, t.v. host, and of course one third of the famous “beer summit” — joined us Tuesday and weighed in on matters of race and identity in American culture right now. Host Tom Ashbrook asked Gates about the controversial assertions made by Dinesh D’souza and Newt Gingrich regarding President Obama’s alleged “Kenyan anticolonial” mentality and behavior.

“Creating this neo-Mau Mau figure which somehow is in the White House,” Gates told On Point, “is playing to racist stereotypes that are inherent in American culture and in Western culture.”

Here are a few more excerpts from Gates’s responses to D’Souza and Gingrich:

GATES: …So I think the larger question, since that’s obviously so silly, is why this sort of specious argument would be resonant. And again I think it’s because people are so frightened. Racism has always been, always been, a function of economic scarcity – economic relationship. Who’s going to get what and whatever lever you can get your hand on to fight for a piece. How much water is in this cup, Tom, if I take three sips, that’s 3 sips less for you. And all of a sudden we find symbolic or metaphorical ways to mask what we’re really arguing about and what’s an obvious one to do is race because of physical differences. And the more obviously different the other is from us, the easier it is to demonize them.

GATES: …You have to subject Barack Obama to the same kind of scrutiny that you did Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton. And that’s you’re duty as a citizen, and as a thinking person. I certainly do. So I don’t expect you to do otherwise. However, when someone comes up with this bizarre theory that…What was the phrase? “Philandering luau tribesman,” you know, I mean, please, that’s ridiculous. And would someone, you have to ask yourself, have said that about Jimmy Carter’s ancestors? Or John Kennedy’s ancestors? Or Lyndon Johnson’s ancestors? And second, would it have resonated in the same way that claims about race resonant in this society? I think the answer to both those questions is “no”…

-Staff intern Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin contributed to this post.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Jul 3, 2015
Demonstrators shout slogans during a rally organized by supporters of the YES vote for the upcoming referendum in front of the Greek Parliament in Athens, Tuesday, June 30, 2015 Greece's European creditors were assessing a last-minute proposal Athens made for a new two-year rescue deal, submitted just hours before the country's international bailout program expires and it loses access to billions of euros in funds. (AP)

Overtime pay. Diplomatic ties with Cuba. Greece defaults. Iran deadline missed. Chris Christie jumps in. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Jul 3, 2015
Harmonica master Howard Levy, in a photo dated February 2012. (Courtesy the Artist)

Harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy tears it up with us. From Bach to the blues.

RECENT
SHOWS
Jul 3, 2015
Harmonica master Howard Levy, in a photo dated February 2012. (Courtesy the Artist)

Harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy tears it up with us. From Bach to the blues.

 
Jul 3, 2015
Demonstrators shout slogans during a rally organized by supporters of the YES vote for the upcoming referendum in front of the Greek Parliament in Athens, Tuesday, June 30, 2015 Greece's European creditors were assessing a last-minute proposal Athens made for a new two-year rescue deal, submitted just hours before the country's international bailout program expires and it loses access to billions of euros in funds. (AP)

Overtime pay. Diplomatic ties with Cuba. Greece defaults. Iran deadline missed. Chris Christie jumps in. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: July 3, 2015
Friday, Jul 3, 2015

We made a lot of last-minute programming changes these past few weeks, and you stuck around with us through it all. Thanks!

More »
Comment
 
Election 2016: Who Exactly Is Running For President?
Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015

Who is running for President, anyway? We attempt to help you figure it out.

More »
9 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: June 19, 2015
Friday, Jun 19, 2015

Why our broadcast changed in different markets this week, and a closer look at a puppet theatre vandalism in rural Norway. (Really).

More »
Comment