I really like ole Henry Gates' job description:
Gates said in a phone interview from his other home in Martha’s Vineyard. “If he apologizes sincerely, I am willing to forgive him. And if he admits his error, I am willing to educate him about the history of racism in America and the issue of racial profiling … That’s what I do for a living.”
Translation: Gates is an affirmative action hack who along with his fellow academic travelers make good coin off white liberal guilt in institutions of "higher learning" across the USA with a pretense at scholarship. Roger Kimball elaborates:
Two points. The first cannot be properly investigated in the present climate of racial hypersensitivity, so I bequeath it to a future historian of American culture. You can scarcely find a mention of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. that does not assure you of his eminence and scholarly distinction. Don’t believe it. To call him second rate is a calumny upon respectable mediocrity. He is a desperately pedestrian scholar who, except for the accident of skin color, would be lucky to be teaching at the University of Southern North Dakota, Hoople. Instead he is the Yada-yada-yada Professor of racial grievance &c &c at Harvard. Some future anthropologist will set the record straight.
The second point concerns Gates’s favorite (really his only) intellectual gambit: playing the race card. His scholarship is concerned with nothing else, and he has just demonstrated that his academic interests are all of a piece with his amour propre. Gates claims to want to push beyond racialism, but his every move, personal as well as intellectual, depends upon and reinforces it.
I would also observe that a more pernicious effect of "academics" like Gates is the crop of students they produce that claim a college education after sitting about whining for four years. No wonder the Obamas like him.