>The more things stay the same…


Perhaps it’s the distance speaking, but this incident somewhat explains a feeling that I tended to feel in the US: a sort of heightened tension and fear of each other that somehow glues us all together. It’s the old expression “better the devil you know” in operation.

Down here, I’ve noted that people tend to build very high fences around their homes, which to me suggests that they are hiding something from the rest of the world.
Not so.
The high fences are not interpreted by other Australians as suspicious, but just a way to maintain privacy within the home. There’s no fear of the other at play, it’s more a case of “mind your own business.”
Conversely, at least where I grew up in Wisconsin, fences were kept low and curtains tended to be left open, as if to suggest that we are not afraid to show what goes on inside, and when curtains are drawn then it is a cause for concern.
Down here, most people chose to entertain from home and do so often. Back in Wisconsin, enteraining from home was a special occasion that occurred at most once every quarter.
I must admit that I still bristle at the sight of high fences, but perhaps that will fade in time. I can only hope that the same can be said of the mistrust between Americans towards one another.


  1. Anonymous · July 22, 2009

    >although there may well be plenty of mistrust, tension and/or fear between white americans and black americans, i'm not sure that the arrest of professor gates is any kind of evidence of it.professor gates was arrested *after* he produced two photo id cards to prove that he was in his own home. so, it was not the case that the police responded to a burglary call, saw a black man (professor gates) and immediately arrested him.instead, the police arrested professor gates for "disorderly conduct" (which seems to have had more to do with professor gates' reaction to the police showing up at his home in response to a call from a neighbor than anything else).so, it would appear that professor gates was predisposed to viewing the police officers as biased (or worse, racist) — and even after his arrest, he continues to interpret the situation from that perspective.i wasn't there when everthing happened, and so i don't mean to suggest that professor gates was treatly fairly and properly by the police (or at least given the same treatment as any white person would have got). but i am saying that there is an entirely plausible explanation for what happened that doesn't involve racism or bias.in the final analysis, i think it's necessary to answer two questions: (1) were the police justified in arresting professor gates for "disorderly conduct" based on his actions?, and (2) under the same circumstances, would the police have arrested a white person for "disorderly conduct" over what professor gates said and did?

  2. Hikaru · July 22, 2009

    >I would suggest that racism is not so much the fear, but just a general fear and mistrust that runs through the country, be it between races or within the same race. I think that in some ways, we as Americans have not changed that much since the days of the Salem Witch Trials: the ultimate example of the fear of the other run amok.

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