So, was Gates right in asking the officer if race played a role in how he was being treated, even after he had proved he was indeed the homeowner? Of course he was, but in the real world, you get to mouth off to an officer only once. He had made his point and his statement; his continued aggravation, and the venting of it, was sure to end with him being handcuffed—and I believe race played no role in that outcome.
Cops will lock up anyone who continues to mouth off, be they black or white. Gates should have kept his cool and addressed his concerns in another, calmer, manner. His position at Harvard ensures that he would have been heard—much more so than the average black man. He had access to redress that other blacks lack.
When Gates was in his domicile, he was protecting his turf; when he got loud with the officer on the porch, the officer was protecting his. Had he not arrested Gates, he would have caught hell from his fellow officers after the incident. They would have talked about him as if he had a tail, and would perhaps begin to doubt out loud his fitness to wear a badge. Peer pressure among police officers, I am told, is a bitch. They simply are never going to lose face.