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Cambridge Police have dropped disorderly conduct charges against Harvard professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., according to a report by CNN.

"The City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Police Department have recommended to the Middlesex County District Attorney that the criminal charge against Professor Gates not proceed," says the press release.  "Therefore, in the interests of justice, the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office has agreed to enter a nolle prosequi in this matter."

The statement continues:

"The City of Cambridge, the Cambridge Police Department, and Professor Gates acknowledge that the incident of July 16, 2009 was regrettable and unfortunate. This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department. All parties agree that this is a just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances."

Like I said, this seems to me like the ultimate real-life Crash moment: where an everyday confrontation is complicated by race, class, culture and mis-communication. Not that race is the primary motivator here, but that race all but certainly was an aggravating factor in the sequence of events that led up to this unfortunate arrest. White people can't/don't believe you when you tell them that this is your everyday life, and then something like this happens to a black person they know of, and they are forced to ask themselves hard questions. We all end up having to ask hard questions. I don't know how large of a part race played here, but the role of race and class combined would be hard to just dismiss out of hand.

I'm just glad it's over before the Rev. Al could go into full gallop and ride -- this incident merited a closer look. But it didn't, in my estimation, rate a full-on assault of media circus-type radics. There's a lot to be outraged about, and there are lessons to be learned here.

But I hardly know where to start.

So you tell me: What did we learn?