Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Eugene Robinson, as usual, nails it

Another take on the ongoing controversy of The Professor, The Policeman, and the President: (And, I hope, the last). I believe Eugene Robinson's take on the power dynamics that were in place in this confrontation is correct.
A friend noted that even the Chief of Police and the mayor of Cambridge realized there was an overreaction to the incident on the part of Sgt. Crowley--and how do we know this? All. Charges. Were. Dropped:
"In a joint statement, Cambridge and the police department said they made the recommendation to the Middlesex County district attorney and the district attorney's office "has agreed to enter a nolle prosequi in this matter," meaning that it will not be pursued."

Also, apparently Sgt. Crowley misremembered what the woman who called in the report of the alleged break-in said:

"Police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, released the 911 phone call Monday. In the call, Lucia Whalen reports seeing "two larger men, one looked kind of Hispanic, but I'm not really sure, and the other one entered, and I didn't see what he looked like at all."

"I just saw it from a distance, and this older woman was worried, thinking somebody's breaking in someone's house and they've been barging in," Whalen says. "She interrupted me, and that's when I noticed. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have noticed it at all, to be honest with you. So I was just calling because she was a concerned neighbor, I guess." Listen to the entire 911 call »
Attorney Wendy Murphy, who represents Whalen, also categorically rejected part of the police report that said Whalen talked with Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer, at the scene.

"Let me be clear: She never had a conversation with Sgt. Crowley at the scene," Murphy told CNN by phone. "And she never said to any police officer or to anybody 'two black men.' She never used the word 'black.' Period."

Robinson's entire column is here.

But for the sake of argument, let's assume that Crowley's version of the incident is true -- that Gates, from the outset, was accusatory, aggressive and even obnoxious, addressing the officer with an air of highhanded superiority. Let's assume he really recited the Big Cheese mantra: "You have no idea who you're messing with."

I lived in Cambridge for a year, and I can attest that meeting a famous Harvard professor who happens to be arrogant is like meeting a famous basketball player who happens to be tall. It's not exactly a surprise. Crowley wouldn't have lasted a week on the force, much less made sergeant, if he had tried to arrest every member of the Harvard community who treated him as if he belonged to an inferior species. Yet instead of walking away, Crowley arrested Gates as he stepped onto the front porch of his own house.

Apparently, there was something about the power relationship involved -- uppity, jet-setting black professor vs. regular-guy, working-class white cop -- that Crowley couldn't abide. Judging by the overheated commentary that followed, that same something, whatever it might be, also makes conservatives forget that they believe in individual rights and oppose intrusive state power.

There was a similar case of collective amnesia at the Sotomayor hearings. Republican senators, faced with a judge who follows precedent and eschews making new law from the bench, forgot that this is the judicial philosophy they advocate. The odd and inappropriate line of questioning by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) about Sotomayor's temperament was widely seen as sexist, and indeed it was. But I suspect the racial or ethnic power equation was also a factor -- the idea of a sharp-tongued "wise Latina" making nervous attorneys, some of them white male attorneys, fumble and squirm.

Is a man of Gates's station entitled to puff himself up and remind a police officer that he's dealing with someone who has juice? Is a woman of Sotomayor's accomplishment entitled to humiliate a lawyer who came to court unprepared? No more and no less entitled, surely, than all the Big Cheeses who came before them.

Yet Gates's fit of pique somehow became cause for arrest. I can't prove that if the Big Cheese in question had been a famous, brilliant Harvard professor who happened to be white -- say, presidential adviser Larry Summers, who's on leave from the university -- the outcome would have been different. I'd put money on it, though. Anybody wanna bet?


Im Here To Say It said...



The White House Occupant stepped into the biggest, stinkiest, stickiest cowflop EVER last week, and we are just seeing the first results of his "acted stupidly" Any comment?

The Thin Blue Line said...

This looks like a job for Jesse Jackson!


Bebo said...

This blog is full of smart thinking independent and conservatives commenter's..and a few liberal Obama toadies. The toadies come by when Obama is not having the kind of month like July has been.
Thanks for the story telling, good try, but no cigar..

Lets look at this in clear daylight. He is good friends with none other than the President of the United States and so much so that the President will lurch to his defense -- with prejudice. He can publicly disrespect an officer who was called to protect his property. He even, it is now known, has a get out of jail free card.

rockync said...

The more I read about this incident, the murkier the water gets.
Cops are always on the line so I hate to second guess their actions or motives. After all, they have a hard job.
The President did step in it and I'm sure he regrets fanning the flames, but who among us has never stuck their foot in their mouth at some time or other? Granted, he is a public figure and should probably have thought it through a little more, but he is only human - shit happens.
Most likely, all involved in this incident probably should shoulder some of the responsibility for what happened.
I'm thinking there was a 911 call about a possible break-in and police responded to find a man standing in the doorway, insisting he was in his own house.
Probably looked and sounded plausible, but as part of procedure the cop wants to see ID - not because the professor is black but because he is in a house which a neighbor thinks she saw two men breaking into.
At this point, it would probably have been reasonable for the professor to thank the cop for his diligence and ask him in while he retrieved his ID. At which point the cop could have thanked him for his cooperation and apologized for the misunderstanding and wished him a good evening.
OR when asked for ID, if he did not invite the cop in, the cop could have explained he needed to keep the professor in sight until he was sure he was who he said he was, explaining it was a safety issue and asked permission to enter the home. The professor could have realized that the cop was only doing his job. The professor could have then produced his ID and told the officer that obviously, there had been a mistake, whereby the cop could have thanked him for his cooperation...etc
So many choices that could have led to a simple conclusion, but, alas, such was not the case and now this incident has taken on a life of its own.

TAO said...


I am with you and always have been because I believe that this is so not news...

But then I come to find out that the lady that made the 911 call now has an attorney and that the distortion between the actual taped call and the recollections of those involved...

Well, it is really getting way out of hand...

Akela Talamasca said...
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Shaw Kenawe said...

IHTSI typed:

"The White House Occupant stepped into the..."


Not everyone agrees with your assessment.

President often step into controversies when they probably should avoid them. See BUSH, George W., the Schiavo debacle. President Bush flew half way across the US, interrupting his vacation, to sign some dumb bill that inteferred in a private family matter. That could be seen as stepping into a stinky cowflap.


There's no story telling here.

The 911 call speaks for itself.

You and The Thin Blue Line have written your opinions, but have not refuted anything.

Sgt. Crowley's superior recommended that all charges should be dropped--IOW, Prof. Gates broke no laws; Sgt. Crowley overreacted. The decision was made by Crowley's boss.

You call it a "Get Out of Jail Free" card?

Most thinking people call it justice.

No crime was committed.

Thankfully, we don't live in a police state where a citizen gets jailed for being angry in his own home.

Apparently you and other toadies like you would prefer that situation.

Yes, much to your distaste and discomfort, President Obama is friends with the distinguished Harvard professor.

We liberals lived with the discomfort for 8 years of knowing Mr. Bush's favored friend was a loud-mouth, gasbag of a bigot, Rush Limbaugh, whom he liked to think of as his "friend."

I prefer Mr. Obama's choice of friend to Mr. Bush's.

Akelaa said...

Shaw said.........

We liberals lived with the discomfort for 8 years of knowing Mr. Bush's favored friend was a loud-mouth, gasbag of a bigot, Rush Limbaugh, whom he liked to think of as his "friend."

I prefer Mr. Obama's choice of friend to Mr. Bush's."

Ah, so it's STILL Bush's fault. And What the hell does Rush have to do with this?

In your blind eyes, a Black person can never be wrong!!!

You Lib's are pathetic

Bebo said...

Shaw Said;
"The 911 call speaks for itself.

You and The Thin Blue Line have written your opinions, but have not refuted anything.

Sgt. Crowley's superior recommended that all charges should be dropped--IOW, Prof. Gates broke no laws; Sgt. Crowley overreacted. The decision was made by Crowley's boss."

Ahemm, yes the 911 call said that race was NOT mentioned!

" Sgt. Crowley overreacted. The decision was made by Crowley's boss."

You mean that The Messiah Obama made a phone call, don't you!

And he wasn't jailed for being angry in his own home. He was jailed for resisting arrest because he did not reply to the policemans requests. And for his name calling, temper outburst, exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior, becoming disorderly, and not showing his ID when a police office requested it.
Let's not wait ....bring on the Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton circus.

James' Muse said...

On the race thing:

I think it wouldn't have been different if Gates were white. Why? Because I witnessed a similar incident when on my ride-along a couple weeks ago:

We got a call that three men were screaming at passerbys from their porch. We went over there, told them to keep it down and not disturb the peace, and they shut up.

They were white.

Had they not calmed down, they would have been arrested.

Christopher said...

Pulitzer prize winning author and Washington Post columnist, Eugene Robinson, indeed, nailed it, as he usually does.

Having lived in Los Angeles, CA, Oakland, CA, Phoenix, AZ and now New York, I have witnessed first hand the menacing, overreaching, lawless behavior of the police.

Long ago, these badge wearing, jack-booted thugs, stopped referring to the people they allegedly took an oath to "protect and serve" as "citizens," and now refer to us by the military term as "civilians." I get it.

My philosophy in dealing with the police is simple: stay out of my way and I will stay out of your way. But if you step on my toes, better hope you kissed your wife buh-bye when you left for work that day because I don't put up with any shit from anyone.

Especially a cop.

James' Muse said...

Christopher: Are you saying you would kill a cop if they "got in your way"?

Arthurstone said...

Heh. Heh. Heh.

An entire world of tea baggers, 'patriots' and delusionals up in arms about what MIGHT happen in their most absurd flights of imagination. Their rich fantasy lives evolve around the image of Islamofascists and/or Obaman marxists kicking down their doors in order to enslave the the entire population of the once great US of A under Sharia and Maoism.

The only thing holding back the hordes being our precious 2nd Amendment rights.

Then when a police officer actually does act completely inappropriately they mewl endlessly about 'respect for authority'. Or, when our fearless leaders eavesdrop on virtually every communication entering, leaving and echoing around within the country folks are gung -ho to maintain their 'security'. I'm inclined to think there would have been a great deal of support for Dick Cheney's invasion of Buffalo, NY from 'real Americans'.

You can't make this s**t up anymore.


Pamela D. Hart said...

Rocky, as usual, you made a lot of good points. My brother is a police officer and he said that during a call such as this one, it is standard procedure to ask the “suspect” outside to ENSURE that he isn’t being coerced by someone with a gun somewhere in the house. Now, once outside Sgt. Crowley then had to determine whether the Professor was indeed “disorderly”. He could’ve just walked away with a “good day” as you mentioned. As humans it’s sometimes difficult when you have someone taunting you, but as a police officer, sworn to uphold the law, you are held to higher standards…gee where have we heard THAT before! I think Obama should’ve kept out of this issue and Crowley should’ve walked away. Gates should’ve acted more like the esteemed Professor he is acclaimed to be. In short, all three are all guilty of not performing as well as they could have.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Pamela: "In short, all three are all guilty of not performing as well as they could have."

Very much in agreement here. After we have had our "teachable moment," I hope we can move on to another subject.

The Thin Blue Line said...
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An American that cares! said...
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An American that cares! said...
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Shaw Kenawe said...

An American that cares:

Christopher didn't personally attack you.

I won't have commenters calling other commenters vile, homophobic names.

Attack his argument, not him. If you can't stop your childish name calling, please don't bother commenting. I'll delete it.


An American that cares! said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shaw Kenawe said...

Sorry, An American That Cares, that's a homophobic taunt.

And you know it.

James' Muse said...

Shaw: While I disagree with the deleted commenters' tactics above, i can certainly understand their anger.

Chris gave a [barely] veiled death threat against all police officers he may come across.

That's pretty bad.

James' Muse said...

And since he hasn't answered my question, I also have to venture that Christopher looks nothing like the profile picture he put up (of WWE Wrestler John Cena, I believe). Combined with the threat of killing a police officer who "gets in his way", his calling of Rush Limbaugh a pedophile, and his picture of a professional wrestler as his profile picture, I feel safe in guessing that Christopher is massively compensating.

TRUTH 101 said...

I still appreciate President Obama's candor on this matter. I'm sure he wishes he would not have used the word "stupid" but heck, we've all used the wrong word from time to time.

Shaw Kenawe said...

James please. If you have an issue with Christopher, take it to your blog.

He didn't make a specific threat to a specific cop.

I don't understand why you have a problem with his picture or why it matters what he uses for a photo. I don't think anyone can analyze someone based on what he or she says in blog comments or what they use as their avatar.

But more to the point, no one has any idea what HE has suffered in his life from homophobic people, who may have been policemen.

This country has a dishonorable record on how it treated all its minorities. And when minorities do express their feelings about being harassed, insulted, beaten, repressed, vilified, and all the other inhuman treatment they've had to endure at the hands of the white, heterosexual majority, they're vilified again.

Neither you nor I, in our lifetimes, can begin to understand this.

James' Muse said...

He didn't say anything about his treatment as a homosexual by heterosexuals, and I made no comment about his sexuality.

What I made a comment about was his "tough guy" comment about killing any cop that "stepped on his toes."

I then furthered it by asking why someone would make such a threat, have a profile picture of a professional wrestler, and make constant accusations of pedophilia against Rush Limbaugh (not to mention his NAMBLA accusations against Dmarks for disagreeing with it)...

Again, I said nothing about his sexuality. What I did say is that someone who hides behind a computer screen and threatens violence is obviously compensating for something, but I didn't say what.

I left that as as a question and invitation to Christopher as to why he would feel the need to threaten such violence.

James' Muse said...

And excusing his threat because it is against a group of people doesn't make it right, Shaw. Just as threatening homosexuals, or any minority, isn't right.

Excusing one minority's threat against another by saying "it wasn't against anyone specific" doesn't excuse in the first place.

It was still discriminatory of him.

dmarks said...

James: Racists like to make this a racial issue.

Lynne said...

It's just as cowardly for others hiding behind their screen names to resort to attacking someone's sexuality simply because you disagree with his/her opinions. It says a lot more about the name-caller.

What does name calling accomplish?

No you haven't. (that's a pre-emptive response to those who are inevitably going to say they've seen my disgusting comments all over the blogosphere)

James' Muse said...

Exactly, Lynn. I think it was cowardly of those bloggers Shaw deleted to rag on Christopher for his sexuality.

I also think it was cowardly of him to hide behind his screen name and talk about killing cops.

I'm still waiting for an answer on that, Christopher. Why would you say that? There really isn't any excuse for it.

An American that cares! said...
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BikerDan said...
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Lynne said...

Grow up.

BikerDan said...
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Right Is Right said...

Lynne said...
Grow up.

Hee,hee,hee, Lynne telling people to "Grow UP"?

Now ain't that the pot calling the kettle black!

Bebo said...

Liberals, this is what happens when you select an affirmative action baby, simply to make some historical note. You pandered to the blacks and got their vote (nothing new there), and now you're complaining about it. Suck it up.
In retrospect, we called it folks. We correctly identified Obama to be a spoiled, wet-behind-the-ears inexperienced, community organizer who is a serial narcissist, who could not lead a platoon of thirsty Marines to FREE BEER, and who was unfit to lead America after a whopping 140 days in the Senate. The liberals can't impose ther fascist state on us and THEY ARE UNHAPPY about it. The rise of the silent majority scares the HELL out of them because they know they'll be out of an easy job by 2010. The people's anger scares them as well and they know we're on the verge of busting out the pitchforks and torch..

So come on over and have a beer with me, that will solve everything!

concernedperson said...

I would think that many of you do remember back in the campaign that Obama said that he never paid attention to the wrong Reverend Wright and the racist garbage he was spewing?

It appears to me that it was a lie on top of many others that are surfacing about him...but then many of us knew these things and tried to warn our fellow countrymen. Too bad they refused to listen.
Again we can see how Obama solves a problem. Take two men [Sgt. crowley & Henry Gates Jr.] who are in a racial divide, invite them to the white house and add alcohol. Way to go Obama!!! You never fail to amuse me with your wisdom.

One last thing, this is not a story of Mr. Gates being arrested, it is a story of Mr. Obama's opinion of a law enforcement official. Yes, I realize I should not stoop so low as to infer he is ignorant, after all, I wouldn't call a person "stupid" without knowing them.

RepublicanGirl said...

Talk about double standards. Why is it with the blacks it is always about racism - get over it people. You are not nor ever have been slaves yet you are mired in that mindset of your ancestors. If this professor had simply acted as the gentleman he is supposed to be and answered the officer's questions none of this would have transpired. The officer was completely in the right to question this man. The caller did the right thing by reporting a possible break-in - you'd better believe Gates would have been screaming if there were a real break-in - what a horses a** that man is.

Lynne said...
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Conservative Lady said...

It's sad that the President of the United States has played the race card. He is now the equivalent of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton

Conservative Lady said...
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RepublicanGirl said...
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Shaw Kenawe said...

12 deleted comments.

Please guys, attack each other's arguments, but not each other. That behavior just makes this comments section a name-calling mud fight.

If I deleted a comment that had no name-calling, I apologize. I had a very late night last night (out of town guests), and I was bleary-eyed when I looked at the comment section.

So not all of the comments had nyah, nyah, nyah-type screeds.

Sorry. I promise to drink at least two cups of coffee before I start hitting the delete button.

And no more oyster shots at 1 am!


Obama was right said...
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Anonymous said...

More racism from police: Boston this time:

The fallout from the Henry Louis Gates Jr. arrest continues: the Boston Police Department has suspended an officer named Justin Barrett for using a racial slur in reference to the Harvard professor in an email, the AP reports:

After learning of the slur, Commissioner Edward Davis put 36-year-old Justin Barrett on administrative leave pending a termination hearing.

A person with knowledge of the case, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person is not authorized to speak publicly about it, said Barrett, a member of the National Guard, used the racial slur in messages to guardsmen and to The Boston Globe.

The AP omits the phrase Barrett used from its article, but the Boston Globe reports that the phrase was "jungle monkey," and that the officer used it while reacting to the media coverage of the arrest.

Barrett, a 36-year-old who has been on the job for two years, was stripped of his gun and badge yesterday and faces a termination hearing in the next week, said police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll. He has no previous disciplinary record, she said.

Andrew (no blog) said...

Like the Rev's Sharpton, Jackson, Wright (all of whom Obama agrees w/) this Prof.Gates was "looking for an issue in his belligerent behavior, in assuming the officer was profiling him". The fact is, the neighbor called thinking his home was being robbed.....IF, the P.D. DID NOT show up, the Gates probably would have said: "they didn't come to the rescue because I am black".....when will these RACISTS stop living in the past and move forward and stop the 'reverse discrimination' they are so good at? I've NEV ER SEEN THE REV'S COME TO BAT FOR ANY WHITE PERSON, HAVE YOU?

Shaw Kenawe said...


Do you believe that white people, who are the majority in this country, and up until very, very recently in America's history, held ALL POSITIONS OF POWER in this country, need spokespersons to defend their majority positions?

Have you forgotten that less than 50 years ago a black person couldn't go to his tax supported schools in the South? Just to name one huge injustice.

There's altogether too much white whining and too much amnesia by us white folks concerning how wretchedly America behaved toward its minorities.

It still happens today.

Thayer Nutz said...

Anyone see this yet?:

On Monday, Fox News Legal Analyst and former New Jersey state Judge Andrew Napolitano told to the conservative network’s audience that police broke the law when they arrested Professor Henry Louis Gates for disorderly conduct. Gates was charged with disorderly conduct during a conflict with police on his own property, but as Napolitano explained, the law only “allows an arrest for being disorderly if you are in public. … So if Professor Gates was arrested because of the words he used to police inside his house, on the front porch or on the front lawn, it was an improper arrest.” Napolitano added that police violated Gates’ Fourth Amendment rights the minute they entered his home without his permission:

The law says, unless [a police officer] witnesses a felony…or unless he has a piece of paper from a judge—a search warrant or an arrest warrant—saying “you can go in that house,” he can’t go in the house. So when Professor Gates said “no you can’t come in,” and the police went in anyway [the police] violated the federal Constitution.

Anonymous said...

Why would they do this? They think they'd find something new? Something the Rethugs wouldn't have uncovered already?

"DECATUR, Ga. — Authorities are investigating two Atlanta-area police officers accused of using government computers to run a criminal background check on President Barack Obama.

William Miller, public safety director for DeKalb County, said Wednesday that the officers have been put on leave until an investigation is finished. The officers' names were not released.

Miller says the police department was notified by the U.S. Secret Service that DeKalb County computers were used to run a check on Obama. He did not say what the officers' motive may have been."

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