The way the arrest of Harvard professor Gates has been described in the media has really bothered me. Not because I am particularly concerned with race relations or that I particularly care about the parties involved in the incident, but because I care about the truth, hypocrisy, and common sense, and clearly most news outlets don’t.
If you read the police report you come away with a clear understanding of what happened. A woman witnessed two men forcefully entering a home by prying open the front door, she did what any good neighbor would do and called the police to report the possible break in. She gave an accurate description of the men as to allow the police to identify the suspects upon arriving at the scene.
And as Sgt. Crowley arrived at the scene, he had to asses the situation, the only information he had was that which was provided to him by the caller and the fact that something was suspicious enough to prompt someone calling the police. He approached the front door of the house, saw a broken lock (confirming the validity of the 911 caller) and observed a man matching the description of the suspect in the residence.
At this point he has a few options. A) He can assume the man inside the house is the owner, ignore the suspicious scene, end his investigation and walk away without determining the facts. B) After determining the man inside the house is black, he can fear stoking racial flames, be afraid to complete his duties at the risk of appearing “racist”, not dare question the man inside because that man is black and if he is in fact the owner he would presumably explode into a racial tirade and escalate the situation to point of a public disturbance. So in the interest of peace, just turn around go back to his police car and leave. C) Do his job, enter the house on the reasonable suspicion a crime has been committed, question the occupants and determine their identities and purpose for being in the house.
Obviously, Sgt. Crowley “stupidly” chose the absurd option of doing his job. And while in the act of doing his job, professor Gates attempted to interfere with his investigation, verbally assaulted the officer, acted in contrast with the civilities established by various explicit and implicit rules of society, refused the reasonable requests made by the officer, and otherwise acted like a large man-baby with a completely external locus of control.
After numerous warnings to the professor that he was rapidly crossing the line of acceptability in handling the situation, Sgt. Crowley placed him under arrest for disorderly conduct in disturbing the peace.
If I as a white man, acted in a similar manner, I would expect to have found myself in similar straits. There is absolutely no evidence the police acted inappropriately, no indication whatsoever they were racially motivated, or “racially profiled” the professor. The only person with race on his mind was professor Gates, a man who has dedicated his life to the subject.
As soon as the police approached him, like a light switch, he turned to victim mode, cried foul, played the race card, failed to accept a reasonable explanation as to why the police where in his house, and otherwise had a breakdown of common sense, proper judgement, and the decorum expected from a prominent member of the community.
In fact, if I was breaking into my own house I would be worried that someone may call the cops, and a small part of me would be ready incase that scenario played out. I can only assume that thought never once crossed Gates’ mind, because if he had anticipated the police showing up and had time to contemplate how he would react to them, and this is the course he chose, then something is clearly wrong with the man.
I think people, including Barack Obama, who fault the police by asserting that they acted inappropriately, or with racist intentions, have their heads firmly lodged up their asses, and such a faulty thought process makes me question any conclusions they may come to. But that’s just me.
I guess we must now instruct our police officers to coddle any black people they may come across and immediately placate any black suspects while apologizing to them for doing their jobs. Or maybe we should just teach black people our secret white handshake that we have with the police so they don’t arrest us, if only Gates knew that handshake this all could have been avoided.