Quinn, wife of former Washington Post editor (and abundant life-liver) Ben Bradlee, divides the world into two groups: those who have attended one of her garden parties, who are good and honest people (like Ken Starr), and those who have not, who are outsiders, not to be trusted (like Hillary Clinton).
At some point, perhaps recently or perhaps in the distant past, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. turned down a party invitation from Sally Quinn. Or so we are forced to assume, from this vague account:
What nobody will say publicly, for fear of being called a racist, is that he is notorious, especially among many of his colleagues (black and white) at Harvard, for being short-tempered and arrogant. I have had personal dealings with him in which his behavior was not honorable.
Yes. We all know how terrified people are of calling black academics "short-tempered" and "arrogant," adjectives we feel like we've heard applied to every single nationally prominent black intellectual in the nation besides Skip Gates.
But Sally Quinn, she knows the important thing is that discrimination goes both ways. Gates may have been wrongfully arrested, but Quinn was once yelled at by a black cop. Quinn, though, was scared of the yelling black man, with the gun, and so she did not Talk Back to him. She is, indeed, wiser and more honorable than Professor Gates.
My friend had a similar incident that night and was not so prudent. She was arrested, handcuffed and hauled off to jail. Were we singled out because we were white? Who knows. But if we had been black and the police white, would it have been a story about racial profiling? Probably. As I sat there seething with my child in his car seat in back, the first thing I thought of was: this is how most black people must feel every day when confronting the police.
Don't laugh at that last bit: Quinn, like black people across the nation, lives in a racially segregated ghetto ruled and policed by the ethnic majority. It is called Georgetown.
Here is a sentence both staggering and hilarious in its unselfawareness: "I mentioned on National Public Radio this week that in response to the Gates & Crowley incident, many of my white friends and colleagues have been discussing reverse discrimination."
Fill in the blanks yourself: "I mentioned on National Public Radio this week that in response to [a recent racially charged incident], many of my white friends and colleagues have been discussing [one of the occasional or perhaps even imagined inconveniences suffered by the ruling classes elevated to the status of a national issue of great concern]." (Those blanks are perhaps too specific for the passage to function as a proper Mad Lib, but we wouldn't want Quinn's essential and important point to be lost.)
(Confidential to WPNI: hope we don't put you out of business with all this stealing of your precious fucking article!)