Sgt. Crowley Was Stupid; But President Can't Say That
Sgt. Crowley asked Gates to step outside. The professor identified himself, stepped outside, and was then promptly arrested for "disorderly conduct," which, in this case was, "How dare you suggest that I may be a racist?"
[Black Star News Editorial]
The President should not have said the arrest of Prof. Henry Louis Gates by Sergeant James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department was "stupid," even though the president was right.
In fact, Crowley's action was very stupid; not just stupid. We're not even referring to the fact that he is not familiar with one of the nation's most visible intellectual; or at least he pretended not to know Gates.
We're referring only to his police actions.
Yet, President Obama should leave those charged words to others, including his underlings to use. Right Wing zealots, including Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and gun-worshippers will twist and distort the president's words. They will turn James Crowley, whose actions may have indeed been racist and most certainly was "stupid" into some sort of law-and-order hero.
Crowley responded to a call by a neighbor who had witnessed two Black men seemingly trying to break into a house--it actually belongs to Gates, who rents it from Harvard University.
Gates, understandably was angry when, while already in his house, Crowley arrived on the scene. It's been reported that when Crowley demanded to see his identification, the professor said something to the effect, "Why? Because I'm a Black man in America?"
We can presume that Crowley said something in response. Here's where it gets interesting.
Crowley knew that it would be problematic if he were to arrest Gates inside his house; yet, he wanted to arrest Gates who had questioned whether he was being treated as a suspect because he was Black.
So, Crowley asked Gates to step outside. The professor identified himself, stepped outside, and was then promptly arrested for "disorderly conduct," which, in this case was, "How dare you suggest that I may be a racist?"
It was a revenge arrest. And that's what the President said was "stupid," in the sense that the professor had already identified himself as the rightful owner of the house. This, presumably, was why Crowley had been sent to the scene in the first place.
Yet, Crowley could not shake loose the any-Black-man-is-a-suspect attitude ingrained in the minds of many police officers.
Still, the president's success so far has been primarily due to his ability to delicately negotiate the nation's racial fault lines. That's why he must be careful when he uses words such as "stupid," which goes towards the intelligence of other individuals.
Obama haters will accuse him of preferring wise Latinas and discriminating against stupid white policemen. And even though he was referring to this special incident, the Obama-haters will distort the meaning, as they already are, to suggest that he was referring to white police officers in general.
We here at The Black Star can say Crowley's action was stupid. President Obama should have said Crowley's action was "perplexing" because any fair minded person can see that it was wrong for him to arrest Gates after he had already identified himself.
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