There is plenty to criticize in the strange case of the arrest of Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates at his home by Cambridge, Mass. police.
When police responded to a call that two men were apparently breaking into a residence, they found Mr. Gates had broken into his own home because he didn’t have his keys. That should have been enough to satisfy the police that Mr. Gates was not a burglar and the police then would have gone about their business. But, alas, things often turn out to not be as simple as they ought to be.
Mr. Gates is a black man and was offended to be questioned by police about being in his own home. Many of us might have felt the same in those circumstances. But Mr. Gates had a chip on his shoulder, and began accusing the police of racism. Now, Mr. Gates is not compelled to be polite to police officers at all, and particularly under these conditions, but he ought to have had better sense and better manners than to allege racist motives to the police officers, one of whom was a black man. That was Screw-up #1.
Screw-up #2 came when police Sgt. Joseph Crowley failed to leave the scene after being satisfied that Mr. Gates was not committing a crime. Instead, Sgt. Crowley took offense at Mr. Gates insults and allegations, and arrested him. The Sergeant should know that it is not against the law for people in their own home to be less than polite to police, even rude and vulgar. He and the other officers should have simply left the premises.
President Barack Obama committed Screw-up #3 when responding to a question about the incident at the end of a press conference he said that the Cambridge police acted "stupidly" when they arrested someone they knew was in his own home. Why would the President of the United States comment on so insignificant an event? Why would a reporter ask the President a question about this event? Was it staged by the White House? Why would President Obama, having admitted not knowing the facts, make any comment at all, let alone to call the police behavior stupid?
Mr. Gates owes the police an apology for being a rude and stupid, and playing the race card.
Sgt. Crowley owes Mr. Gates an apology for not having better sense than to improperly and unnecessarily escalate the situation by arresting Mr. Gates because the Sergeant was offended by Mr. Gates language.
President Obama owes the Cambridge police an apology for his ham-handed insult; and he owes the American people an apology for behaving like a dope.
Now, let’s move on.
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