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On my way home from work this evening I heard Ms. (Janet ?) Babbin talking about the Gates issue and asked her listeners to weigh in on how we thought race relations were going in this country.

First of all, I want to point out how shameful I think it is that the media, being biased as it is, shapes listener's views in an attempt to influence the answers to the very questions they ask. Ms. Babbin prefaced her request by incorrectly stating that Professor Gates was arrested for breaking into his own home. Anyone who has even remotely followed this story knows that that statement is untrue. Ms. Babbin is either misinformed or lying to her listeners. Why?

Racism does still exist in this country and it would be ignorant to imply otherwise. The Gates issue however, is a classic example of someone, "crying wolf." Professor Gates has done an injustice to the very cause that he is apparently an expert on.

A few years ago, my brother and several of his college friends were driving home from Philadelphia when they were pulled over by a state trooper for no apparent reason other than they looked suspicious. Ultimately, they were allowed to go on their way. Last Saturday night, my 18-year-old son was pulled over while driving home from his girlfriend's by two local police officers at 1:30 am. They asked if he had been drinking and when he replied that he had not, they conducted a sobriety test. All the while, another officer looked through his car with a flashlight. Ultimately, he too was, "released."

I guess I should mention that my brother and my son are both white, of Irish decent. I'm not going to try and make a case that police officers are prejudiced against the Irish. What I told both of them is that in the officer's eyes, they must have somehow, looked suspicious. Had either my brother or son started shouting at the officers, I can imagine the outcome could have been different. Making reference to officer's mother? Are you serious?

Professor Gates is an intelligent man. I'm sure he regrets his actions that night. I believe he would do more to help race relations by coming clean and admitting that he made a mistake. After all, making mistakes is something that all people do, regardless of our race.

Thomas Ayres

Wake Forest, NC

Aug 3 2009 - 9:26pm

Web Letter

Gary Younge was very quick to find racism without examining the basic facts in this matter. If a passerby witnesses two men breaking into a home and calls the police, it is appropriate for the suspect to be asked to provide ID to quell any suspicions that they are burglars. If it happened to me, I'd cooperate and be happy that citizens are civic-minded enough to call the police. I think Mr. Gates thought that as a renowned professor and PBS talking head, he was beyond reproach. What gave him the right to be verbally abusive towards Sgt. Crowley?

Eleven years ago, I ran a red light in Staten Island, New York, and was stopped by an NYPD patrol car. I presented the two young cops with my ID, explained that the traffic signal was at a tiny sidestreet where I didn't expect it. When they asked me what I'd been doing that evening, I detailed my plans. The cops let me go without a ticket, stating "It's on us."

I believe he would not have been arrested or handcuffed had he been more cooperative.

Steven Kalka

East Rockaway, NY

Aug 2 2009 - 6:38pm

Web Letter

Four years ago I saw the movie Crash, which showed the virtual tinderbox of race relations that existed in our country. Today, sadly, race relations are not any better, despite a black president. The overwhelming outpouring of letters posted to this site and many others after the president's comment about the Gates incident clearly indicated that we also have not come any further than we were after the verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial was announced sixteen years ago. with blacks celebrating and whites in stunned disbelief. Each side has their own views about race and sometimes, oftentimes, even while perceptions may not be true, perception for that race becomes reality.

One thing I know for certain is that someday life on our planet will end, but it will not be because we did not do enough about climate change. It will be because we did not do enough to change the climate of hatred, bigotry, anger, mistrust, hopelessness and despair. Whether in our own country, the Mideast, or in many countries around the world, we are more concerned about what divides us instead of the things we have in common that can bring us together.

The past two weeks I spent several hours reading postings about the Obama and Gates comments and on Israeli sites about the Arab/Israeli conflict. I came away from reading hundreds of letters feeling very sad about my fellow human beings. If we could only bottle half of the energy we expend hating and mistrusting others and use it to fight disease, poverty and hunger, this world would be a lot better off. Before we worry about climate change let's concentrate on changing the climate about working together to make this planet we inhabit a wonderful life for everyone.

Mark Jeffery Koch

Cherry Hill, NJ

Aug 2 2009 - 6:14am

Web Letter

There has been a dialogue about race since a Dutch slaver first brought slaves into British North America in 1617. I think Obama handled the situation very well, but there are many less-prominent African-Americans who can't take advantage of his mediation skills. I have known and talked to a number of African-Americans who related some of the incidents in their lives, and I've witnessed one or two incidents myself. Discrimination and violence are still out there. The dialogue will continue for some time.

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Jul 31 2009 - 12:47am