Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Henry Louis Gates Affair

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.


Foran said...

Watch "COPS" for a week and you'll see plenty of cases of white trash behaving just as I imagine Gates was. Though it may take place in a trailer rather than a toney Cambridge townhouse, if an investigation is in progress and the resident is getting in the face of the officer, they will arrest the resident. Gates deserved the same treatment.

Mudge said...

I will be impressed if all three actually have a beer together in the white house. Of course, it will probably never happen because you'll never get a boston cop to drink beer out of a teacup.

Anonymous said...

The President has fumbled this one unnecessarily. By acting un presidential with a poorly timed, worded and delivered comment, he has burned whatever racial healing he thought that he preferred through his presidency. We are now squarely back where we where a year ago. Which, is not bad in and of itself, but sad none the less. I guess this is yet another example of the deft handling and nuance that this administration has promised to bring to the Executive branch.

Oh, and why would I want to drink a beer with the man who just defamed me? I still can't figure that one out. You cannot buy people off with your press supported stardom.

Smoothfur said...

Profiling is a canard foisted upon the American people over the past few decades by the liberal left of the black community.

Throughout the history of America police have always gone after people from the demographic group who were responsible for most street crime in particular and most crime in general.

When people of Irish ancestry were the largest criminal group policemen would think nothing of laying their billy-club along side their heads and asking questions later. And the law abiding people of Irish ancestry supported the police in their efforts to protect them. When the Irish were supplanted by the Italians, then the Italians were singled out and the law abiding people of Italian ancestry supported the police in their efforts to protect them. It did not have then nor does it now have as much to do with ethnicity as it does with common sense crime fighting.

According to Department of Justice statistics for the period between 1976 and 2005, 94% of black victims were killed by blacks. For black criminals the victim is overwhelmingly black. It appears that when a cop comes under scrutiny for shooting or arresting a black man, one hears some version of the following argument, "Blacks are only angry when a cop kills or arrests one of there own. But they don't care about black on black murder or other black on black crime, which is far more common." Unless and until the majority of the law abiding members of the black community step forward and support law enforcement and discourage law breakers there can be no other recourse.

Growing up in the 1950s as a wise assed kid of Irish decent from the projects of Boston, I and my friends fully expected to be stopped and questioned or harassed by the police whether we had done anything or not and we were hardly ever disappointed in these expectations.

As a 15 year old, I was arrested by two black policemen for being with a friend in a stolen car. When the policeman asked who my friend was and where he had gone, I began my answer with “hey man” whereupon the policeman nearly slapped my head off my shoulders and informed me that I would address him as officer or sir but to lay off that jive talk. They then took me to the police station and continued to slap me around. When my father arrived and saw them slap me, the room got quiet and the police tensed up looking to my father. My father responded as did most Dads in the 1950s “Smack him again the no good little ##### by God he deserves it.

For the Irish, the Italians or the Blacks, is it profiling, or just good common sense on the part of the police?

Anonymous said...

A policeman gets sent to a scene of a possible crime. The subject, whose property and life he is there to protect, refuses to cooperate and gets arrested. This is not a racial issue. It's a police safety issue. I think Cambridge PD has handled this beautifully. The same cannot be said for Mr Gates and Friends. The most important thing- All the officers went home to their families that night.

Mudge said...

From above article: "Sgt. James Crowley was having a burger and a Blue Moon beer in Tommy Doyle’s Irish Pub when his cell phone rang."

A Boston cop drinking a Blue Moon? I guess I was wrong. He probably would drink that out of a tea cup. Wait, it is the Cambridge police department. That might explain it.

Never mind.

Anonymous said...

Cambridge? Makes no difference.
They are all the same in the corridor from Nasua New Hampshire down tthrough northern Virgina.

I am sure that no matter the brand of beer, they drink it with their pinky finger extended. :)

Anonymous said...

I hate it when citizens have to scream at the cops. It is disrespectful and counter productive.
But the long and short of it is the police are human. We see our bosses, politicians and celebrities, heck even my girlfriend, power trip without a second thought.
Once the cop relaized he got the wrong guy he should have left. We do nor reserve the right to threaten the police. but I do think we reserve the right to say our peice to them. Especially on our own property. But lets be honest of you called a cop a "dipstick", you would probably get some kind of heat and the public at large , both conservative and liberal would say you asked for it. Does Louis Gates need a lessen in humility, yes, but so do the police. The truth is though if Henry Louis gates unjustifiably came and demanded the right to search car I could tell him screw off. If Officer crowley on the other hand did the same and I responded screw off, he would incarcerate me. I hate Loius Gates attitude, but I do not fear his power. I can not say that when I discuss the police.

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