90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
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
Oct 1, 2014
Pro-democracy protesters hold umbrellas under heavy rain in a main street near the government headquarters in Hong Kong late Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. The protesters demanded that Hong Kong's top leader meet with them on Tuesday and threatened wider actions if he did not, after he said China would not budge in its decision to limit voting reforms in the Asian financial hub. (AP)

China, democracy and Hong Kong. They’re in the streets in Hong Kong with their “Umbrella Revolution.” What now?

Oct 1, 2014
Actress Eva Longoria, center, Henry R. Munoz III, co-founder of the Latino Victory Project, left, and Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, are seated at an event launching The Latino Victory Project, a Latino political action committee, at the National Press Club in Washington, Monday, May 5, 2014. (AP)

Latino America. It is very large and growing very fast. How will it move the country?

RECENT
SHOWS
Sep 30, 2014
In this Jan. 15, 2013, photo, Rosser Pryor, Co-owner and President of Factory Automation Systems, examines a new high-performance industrial robot at the company's Atlanta facility.  (AP)

Nicholas Carr says automation, all over, is turning us into zombies. Out of touch with the world. He’s with us.

 
Sep 30, 2014
St. Louis county police officers advance on protestors trying to shut down Interstate 70 in Berkeley, Mo. on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014 near the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo. where Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year old was shot and killed by a white police officer on Aug. 9. (AP)

Police shootings, cop culture, body cameras. And the big debate over how to protect the public and the police.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Transcript: Peter Thiel Wants Us All To Go From ‘Zero To One’
Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel on innovation, technological failure and humanity’s uncertain future.

More »
Comment
 
Transcript: Sexual Violence Under ISIS Control
Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

A transcript from our September 25, 2014 conversation on the Islamic State and sexual violence.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: September 26, 2014
Friday, Sep 26, 2014

All of you love to listen to old broadcasts when we play them, and Taylor Swift loves the Internet.

More »
Comment