NYU Steinhardt News

Zimmerman on the Debate Over Gates Arrest

Writing in the LA TimesJonathan Zimmerman, professor of history and education at NYU, argues that we're fortunate to live in a society that allows us to debate the questions surrounding the recent arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. by Cambridge police. In many countries, says Zimmerman, police forces are among the most corrupt institutions, demanding bribes, assaulting citizens, and violating human rights.

Citing surveys from Transparency International, a global organization that fights corruption, Zimmerman notes that 24 percent of respondents across the globe reported paying bribes to the police in the last year. Abuse and murder of civilians by police is all to common in some countries.

Zimmerman recounts his own experience with official corruption on a recent trip to the African country of Togo with his daughters.

While police corruption and brutality do happen in the U.S., Zimmerman writes that, from an international perspective, the Gates controversy "is a tempest in a teapot."  He call for an official investigation into the incident and reminds us that "in a world in which police routinely abuse civilians or extort bribes from them, we're pretty fortunate to be debating the arrest of Gates."

To read the full article, click here