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Sunday, July 26, 2009

We Need The Truth, Not Beer and Apologies

The proper ending to the controversy over the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. should not be an apology or a sit down for beer at the White House. This no longer is a private affair, so Prof. Gates' desire to "move on," while understandable, is irrelevant.

The public is entitled to the evidence so that we can determine whether Sgt. James Crowley was a rogue, racial-profiling cop as Gates claimed, or whether Prof. Gates made false accusations of racial profiling.

While differing perceptions clearly contributed to the reactions of Prof. Gate and Sgt. Crowley, perception cannot change the truth of what actually happened. The best evidence as to the truth will be the recordings of the 911 call which precipitated the police going to Prof. Gates' house, Sgt. Crowley's radio calls once on the scene, and the accounts of eyewitnesses, including neighbors, passers-by, and the two other policemen on the scene.

We need to get to the truth of what happened in order to learn from this incident. If Prof. Gates is revealed to have made accusations without justification, then that will be a teaching moment for sure in the context of discussing racial profiling.

"Driving while black" racial profiling certainly takes place. But less discussed is the related phenomenon of "policing while white," in which white police officers sometimes falsely are accused of racial profiling, either because they have been falsely profiled as inherently racist, or because accusations of racism are an effective defense tool. If we are to understand and condemn racial profiling, we should understand and condemn false accusations of racial profiling.

Exposing this incident as "policing while white" will be an important part of the conversation, if indeed the evidence supports such a conclusion. Alternatively, if this really was a case of racial profiling, we need to know that as well and to use that knowledge in implementing effective changes.

What we do not need is a whitewash or a refusal to reach a conclusion as to who was right and who was wrong.

I have nothing against Prof. Gates and Sgt. Crowley sitting down for some beer with Barack Obama at the White House. But while a "let's all just get along" moment may be necessary, it is not sufficient. Let's all just get along after we know who was right and who was wrong.

An apology from Prof. Gates, Sgt. Crowley or Obama also may be necessary if insufficient, but first we need to know who should be apologizing. Faux expressions of regret will simply perpetuate misconceptions of what happened, and deepen not lessen the hard feelings.

I know that Obama does not like to use the word "victory." But the public needs a victory of truth here. Based upon what I have read, I do not believe that this was a case of racial profiling. But if the truth is that there really was racial profiling going on, then Sgt. Crowley needs to handle the truth, as do I.

But if the truth is that Prof. Gates made a false accusation of racial profiling, and Obama accepted that false accusation without due inquiry because of Obama's own profiling of the police, then Prof. Gates and Obama need to handle that truth, if they can.

We need a winner and a loser, based on the evidence of what actually happened. No one truly can move on, and we can't just all get along, until then.
Related Posts:
Race and Class In Harvard Square
Another Stupid Police Story
Everyone Yells At The Stupid Police

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  1. I agree.

    And I will further add that ... if Officer Crowley decides to have a beer with Obama and Gates, he had better bring his own legal representative/ spokesperson. Otherwise he will walk into a snakes den. The two Hahvahd friends would like nothing more than to trip up the middle class grunt, and prove him to be the racist they always knew he was.

    The officer is between a rock and a hard place. I really feel for him.

  2. @Stray, you're right. If Officer Crowley accepts the invitation, he'd probably better bring at least one witness of his own to what goes on (more would be better). Otherwise, he's too vulnerable to being trapped and defamed further by our oh-so-elite anti-cop types.

  3. I want to hear the recorded 911 call and that from Sgt. Crowley's open mic.

  4. The public is never, ever going to hear an admission out of Gates that he alone acted unreasonably. The best that the public could hope for is that Gates agrees to some sort of "we both did things we could have done differently I guess" type of admission. Even if he wanted to, Obama will not act like a Bill Cosby or Thomas Sowell and call it like it is, blind of color or status -- it's way too risky for a president, let alone a black president.

    Demands for apologies from the public and media almost always only happen when the person who was clearly wronged has a claim to some sort of minority status. It almost never happens in the opposite direction. We could play a tape demonstrating that Crowley was completely in the right and Gates completely in the wrong, and we still will not see Gates universally criticized. Instead what we would see would be Gates's wrongs explained, minimized and/or even partially justified, and Crowley's innocence qualified, downplayed and/or even overlooked.

    And if Crowley doesn't show up for that beer, Gates will claim the moral high ground. I think he needs to go, and stick to his guns.

  5. I agree I'd like to see all the evidence relating to the event. But, I see the WH invite as Obama trying to undo the damage he's done to himself, and I don't think Crowley can decline the invitation. This beer will be riskiest for Obama; if his buddy Skip Gates is arrogant and triumphant afterward it will reflect badly on Obama, and will prove that he's not the great healer and "post-racial" POTUS so many hoped (and he personally promoted himself to be).

  6. What makes Obama think that its right to get into the middle of a legal issue between two people. When has Obama became Judge, Jury and lawyer! He should keep his mouth shut and not let his racist side come out like it did in his comment! Maybe this adds up to why his ratings are dropping so fast and the Obama lovefest has ended.

  7. He was arrested for disorderly conduct according to Massachusettts law, not for stating his dissatisfaction with the forces of authority. If you have a problem with that, take it up with the Massachusetts legislature, not the sergeant enforcing the law.

    Charges get dropped all the time ... literally all the time. Doesn't mean the arrest was incorrect.

  8. Something just occurred to me -- According to Obama, this is supposed to be a "teaching moment" about racism. So why is it that he invited Crowley over for, of all things, a beer? To talk about racism? Why not a White House dinner? Why not tea?

    Is it because, you know, Crowley is an Irish name, and hey, you know about those Irish and their alcohol. Give them a little liquor and everything will be ok.

    What Obama did is the equivalent of a white President inviting a black person to the White House to share some watermelon and learn a little about racism.

    Obama is unbelievably oblivious.

  9. Why not meet with all of the police officers at the scene? Why only Crowley?

  10. let's get something straight: this entire episode has nothing - repeat NOTHING! - to do with 'racial profiling'...that the president - a harvard law school graduate and law professor - would connect the known facts of this case to 'profiling' is disingenuous at best and divisively manipulative at worst...

    ....the cops were called because of a report that two black men were breaking into someone's home...
    the cops arrive...they discover - surprise! - a black man in the house...the cop wants to see identification and/or proof that this particular black man belongs in this particular house...the officer asks if the man is alone in the house because - surprise! - there is reportedly another person there...

    ...there's nothing arbitrary or DWB about this follow-up; it's called procedure...

    ...not incidentally, even if the man's ID proves he's in the right house, it begs the obvious question: why are two guys breaking into the guy's house? could the wife have changed the locks on him? could he be violating a restraining order?

    i'm sorry but none of these questions are unusual and none of them have ANYTHING to do with racial profiling (it is true that race may influence expecations and behavior...but, really, anybody who thinks the cops are going to treat a couple of white guys with deference under the same circumstance has never lived in boston, cambridge, new york or any other urban college enclave...)

    let me go one step further: if a couple of whiteboy harvard post-docs had broken into their house under siliar circumstances and mouthed off to the cops in the course of establishing their identities and then started yelling at the cops, i would bet that a 'disturbing the peace arrest' would also be in the offing...cops are remarkably race-neutral when it comes to arresting people who yell at them when they are trying to do their jobs..

    is this the right thing to do? maybe not...is it racial profiling? not in any way, shape or form...
    the president of the unitied states and former head of the harvard law review spoke not only in ignorance of the facts but of the law...shame on him...and shame on the notion that this 'teachable moment' has anything to do with the sort of racial profiling gates, obama and crowley rightly abhor

  11. Any idiot knows that disorderly conduct is a way to get people off of the street, not to prosecute them. Look at all of the protesters that are arrested and released as soon as they are booked. I think that Sgt. Crowley has no chance if he goes to the whitehouse with these two PROVEN liars. There will be no recourse for the Sgt. when these two come out lying about the meeting and tell us that he apologized to the prof. Gates has already said that this, the WH meeting, will aid the understanding of "Racial Profiling". I get so f**king angry when you have a situation like this where the Pres. is black, the Gov. is black and the mayor is black and yet they are to dim to see the irony of their protests of racial profiling!

  12. Gates is the one that engaged in racial profiling. He immediatly assumed that Officer Crowley was a racists - he's clearly not - and began to berate him as such. The phrase, "policing while white", when used to describe the treatment Officer Crowley received at the hands of Professor Gates and President Obama captures the reverse racism spewed by those two perfectly.

    Release the tapes!

  13. All parties involved are moving on, we should too. It does not concern us anymore. Private matters are just that...private.

  14. Read the police report. When Crowley arrived Gates was not doing anything suspicious. He was standing in his foyer, looking out the storm door at Crowley. Didn't run out the back door or otherwise act like someone who didn't belong there.

    Crowley's first act was to ask Gates to come out of the safety and sanctuary of his own home.

    He didn't tell Gates he was investigating a break-in till after Gates refused to come outside and demanded identification.

    Remember, there are such things as police impostors. Women are advised to drive to the nearest police station if they think they are being stopped by an impostor.

    Nonetheless, Gates opened the door for the officer, but also started acting like a race pimp and going off on the cop.

    Still, he was more or less cooperating, though giving Crowley crap, trying to go over his head, calling him a racist and pulling DYKWIA. Classless, though Crowley's report says that after seeing Gates' Harvard ID he presumed he was in the house legally but was "confused" over his behavior.

    At that point Crowley was no longer really investigating a break in, and you have the right to be an ass to a cop in your own home, so Crowley deliberately drew Gates outside so he could arrest him for being loud where people could see and hear him.

    I think Crowley knew exactly what he was doing when he left he house telling Gates to come outside if he wanted to continue it.

    He invited an irate, screaming man to come outside and then immediately after Gates came outside shouting about black men in America, Crowley warned him that he could be arrested.

    One could argue that it was Crowley who created the disturbance because he clearly wanted Gates to come outside and get arrested.

    While you should have the right to tell a cop whatever you want to (he's a glorified DMV clerk with a badge) short of breaking any other laws like assault, threats or libel, the fact is that in America, telling a cop off will get you arrested.

    Cops are about the only people who have the power to push back when people give them attitude.

    Cops maneuver otherwise innocent people into arrest for the same reason dogs lick their balls, because they can.

    I can't believe conservatives defend cops so much. Cops are the nanny state's spear tip. Cops will enforce whatever laws the Dems pass, and police departments want restrictions on 2nd Amendment rights.

    Being a cop in nowhere near the most dangerous job there is. Being a garbageman is more dangerous in terms of fatality rates.

  15. I think the facts that:

    1) The white police officer has steadfastly refused to apologize, and
    2) The black professor wants to drop the whole thing --

    taken together tell you all you need to know.

  16. I'm with AWOL. I think we've heard enough about Professor Gates' arrest. It was an investigation that took an unfortunate turn.

    Investigative resources would be much better deployed spending time determining why Mr. Gates refuses to hire Hispanics at his online magazine company. It's illegal in this country, and racist to boot, to run a company which refuses to hire people based on their ethnicity as Mr. Gates does.

    The IRS might want to peruse the missing paperwork for his sham charity, which he uses to hide income and avoid paying his full share of taxes, as well.

  17. If there was any racial profiling, it was from the racist Gates [for seeing all in terms of skin color - THAT'S racism]

  18. bill...You can't be arrested for Disorderly Conduct in your own home. The cop lured him outside specifically so he would have a pretext to arrest him.

    Conservatives who always take the cops side should do what I did: grow long hair and buy a motorcycle. I'm still conservative. But now I know cops are lying thugs.

  19. To all the libral legal authorities.There is no law stating you cannot be arrested in or near your own property.Case in point: domestic violence.As for charges being dropped,gee, wonder why with all the screams of racism from potus on down. Silly clueless librals.

    Lets hear the tapes so we crakkkas can listen to Gates, his hatch wide open as the pic shows, yowling the libral war cry:


  20. I was actually having a bad day...bloated and queasy feeling..but thankfully I came across this blog and saw comments from "AWOL"..lo and behold...I laughed so hard, I had to run and take care of the problem I was having. I finally know of a useful purpose for liberals...had to be something there.

  21. Well this is a first, Dennis. Usually people complain that they feel "bloated and queasy" when they leave this blog, not when they arrive.