"But we’ve learned that we can have our differences without demonizing one another. There’s reason to hope that many people have emerged with greater sympathy for the daily perils of policing, on the one hand, and for the genuine fears about racial profiling, on the other hand. Having spent my academic career trying to bridge differences and promote understanding among Americans, I can report that it is far more comfortable being the commentator than being commented upon. At this point, I am hopeful that we can all move on, and that this experience will prove an occasion for education, not recrimination."
Professor Gates, nicely put. I especially like the phrase "genuine fears about racial profiling," which — perhaps — gracefully concedes that his own fears made him interpret the incident as something that it was not, while at the same time asking us to feel real sympathy for those fears.
Gates also acknowledges the police officer's fear. Both men had fears, and, quite apart from whether the yelling or the arrest was justified, it is good for us to understand these different fears that come from different places. I would guess that the disjunction between the stories the 2 men told may be accounted for by the different nature of the fears that filtered their perceptions.
If that is so, and if we want to move forward, then more important than figuring out what really happened is for us all to see how way things look through another person's fears. Maybe we can see that in time to avert the next ugly confrontation.