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The Beer Summit

Posted by AB on July 30, 2009

Finally, the “Beer Summit.” It’s what we’ve all been waiting to see. President Obama has kept his promise to bring Professor Henry Louis Gates and Sgt. James Crowley together over a beer.  Wait a minute….does anyone else think this is silly?  This whole story has been blown completely out of proportion, and it was being blown out of proportion before the President said that the police officer “acted stupidly.”

Sgt. Crowley arrested Professor Gates a couple of weeks ago, inside his own home, for “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior.”  The story was framed by the media as racial profiling, but the more information that was revealed, the clearer it became that this wasn’t racial-profiling at all.  This was an incident in which a good man investigated a 911 call at the home of another good man, and these two massive egos clashed, resulting in a shit-storm of media overreaction.

If this becomes an opportunity for Americans to discuss race-relations, great; we need to honestly discuss race-relations.  But why aren’t we asking the questions about civil liberties, because I should have the freedom to be as belligerent as I want to be, in my own home, without being arrested.  The biggest question I have is this:  “Can I be arrested for yelling at a police officer while I’m in my home?”  Apparently, you can’t in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

President Obama has been hit hard about his comment, but he was right, and in another context, the same people who have criticized Professor Gates and backed Sgt. Crowley would agree. 

*Why did Sgt. Crowley come to the White House with his union Rep. and lawyer?  And don’t Republicans hate unions?  Just a couple of questions that I was wondering.

*Let’s hope that this is over.  Maybe some good can come from this.


4 Responses to “The Beer Summit”

  1. Isaac said

    You can read the police report here, if you like: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2009/0723092gates1.html

    1) Crowley did not arrest gates inside his own house – he arrested him outside after specifically warning him twice, in the presence of many witnesses.
    2) After seeing Gates’ Harvard ID, he was preparing to leave as Gates was shouting him down.
    3) It is noted in the report that Crowley did nothing because Gates was disorderly in his own house. He only did it because he came outside and persisted.
    4) Despite Gates’ obvious racist accusations and statements “This is what happens to Black Men in America,” etc, Crowley was calm, collected, and even compassionate the whole way.

    I fail to see how the police acted “stupidly” in any way. The police receive a call about a potential break-in. The individual who claims to live there is belligerent and delays producing identification, which is suspicious to anyone. In response to this, the police continued to investigate and once he produced ID, the police officer prepared to leave. That wasn’t good enough for Gates. Gates assumed right off the bat that Crowley was only after him because he was black. That’s more racist than anything Crowley did.

    Would you want a police officer to investigate a situation if your neighbor called in a break-in? If the burglar of your house was belligerent and refused to initially produce ID, would you prefer that the officer stop investigating on that basis alone? Doesn’t it seem like a criminal might have an incentive to be belligerent and refuse to produce ID if he knows the cop will not persist if he does?

    Obama: “Because this has been ratcheting up and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up, I wanted to make clear in my choice of words I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sgt. Crowley specifically,”
    “And I could have calibrated those words differently.”

    Obviously, Obama didn’t formally apologize at all, but he himself recognized that there was a problem with the words he chose. Who knows exactly what he meant by that.

  2. tarheelpirate said

    Yeah, I’ve read the police reports, and as I stated, I do not think that Crowley is a racist. This wasn’t about race, really, but the media ran with that angle. This was about two good men, at the top of his respective professions. Unfortunately, these two men have massive egos, and things got out of hand.

    I stand by my belief that there was wrong on both sides, and yes, the officer may have acted “stupidly” or however you want to state it.

    If the officer did nothing wrong, then why were the charges dropped? I doubt that you would like to be arrested in your own home or front porch.

    Anyway, these two men have buried the hatchet, so I hold no hard feelings toward any party. Cooler heads have prevailed.

    Again, thanks for reading.

  3. Isaac said

    The charges being dropped isn’t an admission of fault. Some battles aren’t worth fighting. Often arrests take place simply to defuse a situation in which someone is refusing to allow peace to return.

    I agree that race was made an issue by the media – the problem I have with all this is that no one has even explained what Crowley did wrong, and yet they want to condemn him. Which of his actions was unmeasured or lacked self-control and precision? Which of his actions did President Obama condemn as stupid? Specifics were never given because there weren’t any. If there were weak points, they would have already been exploited. On the other hand, Gates was specifically disrupting the peace – maybe that’s a vague charge, but if a white/asian/hispanic had been acting the same way, I wouldn’t have faulted the guy. It wouldn’t have made news and would have been water under the bridge if he wasn’t black.

    The issue was never the arrest, at bottom; the issue was a white man arresting a black man who knew the president.

    As long as we insist on grouping individual rights into categories such as “black rights,” “minority rights,” we will never get to the only intrinsic rights which actually exist – human rights, which are individual in nature, not collective.

  4. tarheelpirate said

    I think it became a bigger deal, not because the Professor is black or that he knows the President, but because he is such an accomplished and respected individual.

    We disagree on most things, Isaac, but I appreciate you passion for knowledge on these subjects. A debate with one who is knowledgeable is a big change from those who are simply reactionary and gullible.

    I’m glad that, both Gstes and Crowley, can move on.

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