I have remained silent on this matter, though I have not been uninterested. Others have discussed it on the blog within yesterday's Friday Free For All and made very good points about restraint, civil conduct, etc--all of which resonated with me.
But my silence is born of other factors. Unlike the President, gathering facts DOES have an impact on my decision to render an opinion.
And so, I've gathered enough facts to render a few opinions, but I warn readers whose minds are made up on this one in one fashion or another that I may disappoint you here.
I use as my model here the process followed in Admiralty Court proceedings, one in which blame/responsibility can be shared, and in which financial culpability can be affixed based on just "how responsible" one is.
So here goes--a series of opinions.
1. Blame is shared here. I cannot say for sure in what proportion, but I believe both men to have selected unwise courses of action.
2. Henry Louis Gates is a racial arsonist, a practitioner and beneficiary of black victimhood in America. But that doesn't mean that he doesn't have a legitimate beef.
3. The President acted unwisely in criticizing the police action mere seconds after claiming not to have the facts.
4. The President acted wisely in calling Sgt. Crowley to apologize.
5. This is not--as Mr. Gates would have us believe--"racial profiling". Racial profiling is a cop pulling over black people because he thinks black people smoke more pot than white people, and he might find pot in the car. This was a policeman responding to a breaking-and-entering call. That he was unaware 1) as to who Henry Louis Gates is and 2) that Gates lived in that dwelling is understandable given the American public's notorious inability to identify public figures (ever watch the Tonight Show?) and Henry Louis Gates' extremely limited fame. I am a current events and pop culture maven--and if a picture of Henry Louis Gates were shown to me before this incident, I would not have been able to identify him (though if I were shown a group of pictures and asked "which one is HLG" I probably could have.
6. Mr. Gates is reported to have behaved in an uncivil manner, leading to his arrest. It is an open question to me as to just how civil one has to be in one's own house. We shouldn't forget this--whatever Gates was doing--he was doing it in his own house, a fact that was established. This is not an excuse, it is however mitigating.
7. I do not understand exactly why Mr. Gates was handcuffed and arrested. But I also do not understand police protocols and law enforcement procedures. I am willing to give the police the benefit of the doubt on this one, that their protocols indicated that he should be taken in. If that is however the case, I think I'd like to examine the reasons behind the protocol.
8. This is not--as one of my African-American friends wrote on Facebook yesterday--a sign that "of how far we have not come". Presumably the Mayor of Cambridge (black) and the Governor of Massachusetts (black) earned their posts with significant white support...notice how I don't point to the fact that our President is half-black, as folks on the other side of this argument like to say how that is not indicative of any real or sustained change in attitudes--just his personal popularity. This is an incredibly unfortunate situation, made worse by Mr. Gates' obvious desire to use it to his personal advantage.
9. While I cannot speak to Sgt. Crowley's actions during the arrest (as I was not there and do not possess understanding of the protocols guiding his actions), I do believe he has acted responsibly thus far in the post-incident fallout.