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The conciliatory sips of beer should have been accompanied by a public apology to Sgt. James Crowley, the Cambridge Police Department of Massachusetts and all of the country’s Finest.
Had President Obama bothered to read Incident Report 9005127 – filed on July 16 at 13:21:34 – he would have concluded that he needlessly tarnished the Bay State’s cops “for acting stupidly” in the arrest of his afrocentric and inflammable “friend,” Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
In between rescuing the economy, crafting a health care bill and stabilizing himself in sliding polls at home – while trying to thwart nuke-happy jihadists abroad –the leader of the Free World, apparently, had time to put his tuppence in on a minor civilian matter and make a whole racial megillah out of it.
Upon learning that Gates had been nabbed for appearing like a burglar to a neighbor while trying to enter his own home through a jammed front door, Bam waxed: “What we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by police, disproportionately.”
Instead of thanking the police officers for their alacrity and aptitude in responding to a citizen’s call about a possible break-in at his home, Gates – the literary critic, educator, scholar, writer, editor, and public intellectual – became just an angry black man, who thought himself above the law as he taunted Sgt. Crowley, who is white, with the tired racial refrains of his frustrated ilk.
Small wonder considering that in his 2000 book, “The African American Century: How Black Americans Have Shaped Our Century,” he writes “...black people have always tried to remind America of its night side, of the barbarism lurking underneath its self-congratulatory rhetoric of universal freedom and equal opportunity.”
That’s a far cry from his cooing before the White House beer meet when he stated, “I told the president that my entire career as an educator has been devoted to racial healing and improved race relations in this country.” Hmmm.
An apology would have been more in order because according to his arrest report, Gates refused to obey law enforcement protocol, refused to step onto his porch to speak with the sergeant, pompously telephoned for “the chief,” accused the cop of being “a racist police officer, ominously warned him that he didn’t know who he was “messing” with and baited him with an ill-mannered rebuke about “yo mama.” With that, Gates flushed his education and repute down the toilet.
Sergeant Crowley is a respected, 11-year police department veteran, who teaches a course on racial profiling and gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to dying Reggie Lewis after the African American Boston Celtics’ star collapsed at the Brandeis University school gym in 1993. His motives are above reproach.
The same cannot be said of President Obama or Professor Gates, both of whom should have reached a better personal plateau by now, and reacted differently: An evolving US citizenry has elected Bam as its first black president, and affirmative action has been good to the likes of Professor Gates who, 25 years ago, prompted a traffic cop to write “attitude: poor” on a ticket he served him.
Instead of parading a damage-control cocktail hour to give a “teaching” lesson to God knows whom – certainly not Sgt. Crowley – both men should have used the incident and their stature to reach out to their lost younger generation of African Americans, and impress upon them the need to live a lawful life, thus eliminating the scourge of racial profiling. Federal crime statistics cite that homicide is the leading cause of death among black males, ages 15-34. According to the US Justice Department, in the period spanning 1976 to 2005, 94 percent of black victims were killed by blacks.
Professor Henry Gates and President Barack Obama should have first addressed those concerns and their potential for racial profiling before “stupidly” defaming a kind and competent police officer for doing his job properly.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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