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Race and Stupidity

Our Readers Who Comment are having an unusually strong and pointed conversation this morning about President Obama's press conference remark that Cambridge, Mass., police "acted stupidly" in the arrest last week of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.

The conversation contains specifically racist remarks and rejoinders along with expressions of hope that we as a nation may actually be figuring out how to remove this millstone from our necks. There is both praise and condemnation for police and how some of them behave. Several readers worry that Obama damaged his push for health care reform in a news conference clearly designed to pump up support for it. And a number chide him for taking this on because, as he himself said, "Now, I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played."

I am excerpting from some comments I would not normally use. I have defended the Post's policy of permitting anonymous comments on the grounds they make it possible to rip away the facades that we often employ in discussing race and other difficult issues. As for the Gates incident itself, I call your attention to Wil Haygood's outstanding essay Wednesday. Make sure you read it to the end.

We'll start with Killoranz who said, "I voted for Obama etc. but the President made a mistake tonight in his comments about Professor Gates. This is a case of a Harvard professor's bruised ego, not a civil right violation. I hope Obama's remark doesn't distract from the need for serious health care reform."

But mavisdarling disagreed. "No, the president did NOT make a mistake, he spoke honestly... I am just loving it that it happened to a friend of the President. (Not loving it that it happened, just the coincidence of it all.) I'll bet that cop will think twice before he does something like THAT again!...You know, we HAVE come a long way in this country."

teresaPaloAlto said, "I am surprised at and disappointed with President Obama. The fact that he would state such a disrespectful generality about the Cambridge police without knowing the full set of facts, is concerning... His opinion benefits a personal friend, and is flagrantly divisive at a time when other issues are on the table, i.s. health care. I voted for Obama, campaigned for Obama, but am now perplexed at his leadership..."

msg8568 wrote, "He wasn't there, he doesn't know all the facts, and yet he accuses the police of acting "stupidly".. What a jerk!...He's almost as big as jerk as the racist Gates!....If we could get him to pay more attention to frivilous events like this, and stay out of trying to run the country, maybe he wouldn't have as much time to ruin America, as he's beginning to do."

jjedif replied, "The jerk is you. You weren't there either and yet you defend the police for arresting a black man inside his own house for doing nothing criminal or suspicious. Pathetic, ignorant, backwoods racist and communist."

lwps asked, "How stupid is it to arrest someone for breaking into his own house? The fact is that today he lucky he didn't get shot to death."

harkish said, "Seems we have a stupidity party at the Gates house in Cambridge. First, the Prof's stupidity, for getting angry at cops responding to a possible break-in... Second, the police. The prof loses it, perhaps sensitized to pasts profiling injustices, and gets in their face. So walk away - the guy is on his property, perhaps a pompous blowhard, but his raising his voice to police is no reason for his arrest. Get in your car and have a coffee and a donut. And this non-news item never happens."

TAH1 wrote, "...Obama made a mistake by unfairly attacking the police department in Cambridge. It's an ongoing investigation and Obama should have remained silent... Obama demeans the Presidency of the United States when he acts inappropriately. Obama really needs coaching on how to act Presidential and what is proper protocol and what is not."

skraemer1 asked, "Why is it when a white cop makes a questionable arrest of an African American, it is automaticcaly racial profiling? Cops make questionable arrests of white people all the time... I don't know enough about it to have an opinion one way or the other, but before this Harvard professor and our President started calling him a racist, they might look into Officer Crowley's background."

ladymaya wrote, "The right wing on Fox will dine out on this for a long time but he spoke the truth. Police have a lot of power and instead of arresting the Professor the cop could have diffused the situation and calmed him down and that would been the end of it...Plenty of cops in my town are discourteous to citizens and we can't arrest them."

An extended exchange began when nlb1954 wrote, "...I am a 55 year old white that 55 years all i have ever heard from your people is,we were slaves what are you going to do for me.i need more welfare and when you dont get what you want you sue because you are black and are intittled to all the freebies you can get..."

To which ChrisStewart replied, "This comment is inflamatory. I hope the post deletes it. With statements like this, you sir disgust me. You are a testament to everything wrong with race relations in America. I honestly hate you."

And nlb1954 responded, "well chris you hate me ,so be it i really could not care less,but it is because it is true and you know it.if you are not black then you are just plain stupid,everything i have said is true and all americans (true americans) know it is..."

Then nlb1954 wrote, "Mr. Stewart,i dont hate you either,but i just stated the things i have seen with my own eyes,sorry it bothered you but it was intended to get people to do the proper things in life if they want to succede as they want.color is not a barrier it is an excuse to not do what is right..."

And ChrisStewart said, "... As a person that is African American and doesn't know anyone that exhibits the traits you described, I honestly can't relate to anything you have said. If you truly haven't had any good experiences with minorities, I am sorry. If the fact that we are all Americans, fighting under the same flag, shedding the same blood doesn't inspire to learn about other people, then I am sorry for that too... God bless. And may your heart be opened to reasonable and thoughtful debate about the issues involved."

jdonner2 wrote, ""What I think 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 law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact." It is not disportionate to the amount of crime they comit."

We'll close with mercurial51, who said, "I'm surprised at all these bigots, so valiant and noble to be so truthful in a faceless forum. Yes, there are very poor race relations in the United States. But THIS man's indignity is one we could all suffer. If you are unaware of his intelligence, his contributions, of his relevance, then you are living a stunted life and deserve to remain in the dark."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  July 23, 2009; 7:30 AM ET
 | Tags: Gates, Obama, Racism  
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We constantly hear the need for a serious national discussion on RACE.

OK, let's have one.

The definition of racist: "program or practice of racial discrimination , segregation ,persecution and domination based on racialism."

In the Gates-Crowley affair, who brought up "race" first?
Who persecuted whom based on racial statements?
Who effected a status of domination by asking "Do you know who I am?", and
by phoning the officers commander to complain?

Officer Crowley went strictly by "THE BOOK" as his multi-racial partners have testified.
Even a simple analysis of the reported facts support officer Crowley's professionalism.

Let's face the truth.
Mr. Gates played the race card and Obama stood right behind him!

National race discussion?
No one on television had the nerve or honesty to place the full blame on a race-baiting, old, black man, Mr. Gates.
How about some racial honesty?!?!

Posted by: CyKick | July 26, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Officer Crowley’s behavior raises the question as to the quality of diversity training he received. Apparently that training did not include ways to enable white officers to diffuse the rage that some Black men feel when they encounter the police, or to even understand the perceptions that lead to such anger.

Just because a policeman has certain powers that doesn’t mean he/she has to use them fully, particularly where life and limb are not in danger. If Crowley is not racist, as two Black police officials claim he is not, then he should have been able to avoid the uproar assuming that he had been adequately trained in this diversity course he took. The Cambridge Police Department needs to be very skeptical about letting him teach anybody else. Or at the very least, the department should evaluate the level of his cross-cultural communication skills for such a situation. After all, diversity training is supposed to equip us to handle these situations in a way that will prevent the kind of unpleasantness that has happened in this case.

AAC - Chicago

Posted by: A-Claerbaut | July 26, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

The facts seem to be a bit hard to come by, as they so often are; including in police reports. Let's leave race aside for a moment [not that I don't think that htis was likely a big factor].
In the best case scenario a 58 year old man who needs the assistance of a cane to get around was arrested and handcuffed and carted off. It really isn't material whether the arrest was made inside or on the front porch.
If the old man was crotchety it also doesn't matter: not even the cop has accused him of assault. If the cop [in fact, there seem to have ben three] couldn't manage to smooth over the situation and go away, he is not being very competent or proficient in keeping the peace. Ergo, the President's remark
that the "police acted stupidly" is absolutely true.
For the record, I am of the pink race, but all my nearly 80 I have seen, and have no difficulty recognizing, racism. Even with no personal experience, it is a well documented fact that statistical reports that black men are disproportionately subjected to traffic stops, arrests and worse.
Obama pointed out [and this seems to shock some people that he should speak so plainly and accurately] the disparity affecting black and latino people. Here, I have a quarrel with him: he left out Native Americans.

Posted by: seumas | July 24, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

The Gates incident shows, if nothing else, the complexity of racial perceptions (and misperceptions, and how subtle, unconscious bias can cloud judgement and reason in the case of law enforcement investigation, and how historically oppressed minorities react to those law enforcement officials. Like many other posters, I do not think that this incident began as a racially-motivated act of profiling. And again, I concur that if you take ego, perceived indignity and humiliation(on both parts), and aggressive behavior out of the equation, this incident becomes a non-event. But Gate's arrest does magnify the pervasive division between the experiences of the typical African-American and the average White that historic patterns of segregation and social inequalities created, and the consequences that we must face even in the fictitious "post-racial" America. The question that all of us as Americans must ask ourselves is this: 1) Is educational and economic parity between the races going to be enough to erase the wounds that racism has inflicted on both blacks and whites alike, and 2)is racial profiling merely a symptom of a greater malaise that gives one part of society the false sense of privilege and security, and allows the other part to succomb to the paranoia of victimization? I am a black man in America, and I truly cannot answer either question.

Posted by: jamesvaughan1 | July 24, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

It seems to me, as a critical old lady, that the incident is symptomatic of the hurried, “act now, compensate later” operating strategy of the present age. Why didn’t the police officer ask Dr. Gates what he was doing, and ask it politely? Why didn’t Gates ask the officer to look at his documents and then ask him to leave his house promptly, and do so with a smile to cover the other’s embarrassment? Instead, shouting occurred, careers were damaged, and the incident blown up to nationwide proportions. All based on unproved assumptions--assumed illegal "breaking in" (he wasn't), assumed "racial profiling"--the policeman asserts it wasn't.
Our predecessors tested their gold coin before they bought it; now we are encouraged to bring back a faulty product. However, in the realm of homan behavior, some things can never be taken back.

Posted by: jharner1 | July 24, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

maryacarroll (3:22 pm on July 23) noticed the same thing I've been thinking: that there was an element of "town vs. gown" (local resident/university faculty) disagreement in this conflict as well.

Posted by: SherryLP3 | July 24, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Why was a Harvard ID the only identification Gates had with him? Surely if he was returning from a trip to China, he must have also had his passport?

Posted by: artydodge | July 24, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

It is certainly not the president's place to get involved in a local issue like this, and even more inappropriate for the president to comment on sensitive issues without knowing the whole story, even if one of the people involved was an old friend. And I believe this is more of an issue of the professor's ego being bruised, yelling at the police who are investigating a local break-in without showing them your ID and insisting you rascist is simply not a good idea. Bad judgement there. Maybe the police shouldn't have sunk to the professor's level to get even with the being yelled at and insulted part. But, this should never have gotten the attention it did, with Obama making an inappropriate statement on national TV. If he can't be impartial or feels the need to defend old friends by making uneducated remarks, then he's lost my vote for 2012.

Posted by: Lch878 | July 23, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm another Obama supporter who was very disappointed by his comments. He owes Officer Crowley and the Cambridge police an apology. What a blunder. "What was he thinking" as they say. I hope it will not be too costly a mistake.
Too Cool, too arrogant,and self destructive. Having a good jump shot means nothing if you can't control your mouth.

Posted by: slysosome | July 23, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Very strange words coming from our nation's first "post-racial" president. It is most unusual for a president to comment on an incident best sorted out by local authorities. What value is it to stir up the racial hornet's nest now?
After his measured,"uh, ah" tentative press conference, Obama was very proactive on this last question. Showing his "true colors"? Post-racial. Right.

Posted by: AdamSmith2 | July 23, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Officer JIM CROWley made a bad arrest and the department made that clear when the refused to support the charges. A person's home, is not a public place, as the charge was drafted. I hope Gates sues the Cambridge force for as much as he can, then donates those dollars to charity promoting racial justice. White resentment of the equality they promoted for so long, which we are only now beginning to achieve, disgusts me, both as a Caucasian, but also as a Native American attorney.

Ignorance is bliss. Equality is difficult.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | July 23, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

the police arrested a man inside his home who'd already proven his right to be there. Regardless of your race, creed, color, age, sex or religion, that was just purely stupid.
Posted by: Jayne
Stupid?? It's stupid you saying he was arrested inside his house when it has been said again and again Gates followed the cop OUTSIDE his house to continue to berate him.. If Gates had stayed inside he wouldn't have been arrested. or here's a crazy idea what if Gates cooperated with the police who were there to protect Gates property instead of fighting with them none of this happens either..

Posted by: sovine08 | July 23, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Everyone views this story through the prism of their own preconceptions, just as Gates and Crowley reacted to the situation (or so it appears through my lens). Some ask: would the police officer have arrested Gates had he been white? Others: would Gates have started yelling if the cop was African American? Was it ego? Was it racism on either/both sides?

It seems clear that Americans need to have a honest discussion on race, and I hope this relatively minor incident proves to be its catalyst, rather than another riot after a CA jury verdict or a racially motivated beating in Boston.

Posted by: spasha1 | July 23, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

The cops say the scholar was shrill
And playing the race card at will;
Though he gave them guff
They never would cuff
A Gates who is white and named Bill.

News Short n' Sweet by JFD8

Posted by: jd121 | July 23, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

OVOMIT was out of line and a RACIST!

GATES is a RADICAL RACIST who needs a mental exam and hope you can defend yourself when no cop comes to your calls!

CROWLEY - your a wonderful cop and deserves a CONGRATULATION!

Posted by: Sparky15 | July 23, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

As an ardent supporter of President Obama I would like to say that I think he was wrong in commenting on the arrest. It was neither the time nor the place.

I have lived all of my life (65+ years) w/in 3 miles of Harvard University. In my household, full of fire fighters, there was always a feeling that the "Harvard types" looked down on the outsiders, that they were snobs and elitists. I think that this incident had more of a "townie vs a leather patched jacket," than it did about racism. Two hot heads is my assessment.

Posted by: maryacarroll | July 23, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Professor Gates and Sgt. Crowley are, from what I've read in the newspapers today, intelligent professionals.
Whitehouse spokesman Robert Gibbs said this morning that Pres. Obama felt that cooler heads should have prevailed.
I agree.

Posted by: dank6 | July 23, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

The officer should have just walked away and Gates should have probably understood that the cop was just doing his job.

Posted by: lexhamfox | July 23, 2009 1:30 PM
The officer did walk away and Mr. Gates followed him screaming and yelling. When he followed the officer out the door, two of the other officers present grabbed the hysterical old man, cuffed him, and took him to the pokey until he calmed down and they finished their paperwork (and probably their donuts, lol).

Posted by: ZZim | July 23, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

All I know for sure now is that Mr. Gates home is wide open to any thief in Cambridge. They can break in and cook themselves a meal and watch a movie before any Cambridge cop even thinks of showing up. By the way has any one seen the picture of Gates on his front porch he looks a little out of control doesn't he. Goes to show amount of brains does not equal commen sense.

Posted by: BobbyGil | July 23, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

So may erroneous claims continue to be parroted casually:

1) Gates was NOT arrested for burglary; he was arrested for being disorderly---a reality that even WaPo's Howard Kurtz mis-reported.
2) He was NOT arrested in his home; he was arrested outside his home, after following the departing officer out of the house, hectoring him, despite warnings, in front of many, many witnesses.
3) The initial call was NOT from a "neighbor" (who *might* be expected to know him); it was a person who worked nearby and was walking down the street, only to observe two men forcing their way through a front door, a process that apparently took them fifteen minutes.

But this parade of mis-reporting and this whole matter dovetails so nicely with people's preconceptions, that facts no longer seem to matter. And, with charges dropped, a more through investigation seems unlikely. So this mess of mis-reporting becomes part of the nation's tortured racial folklore.

And, after acknowledging the limits of his knowledge, our President opts to step into the middle of it. Not wise, Mr. Obama.

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | July 23, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

It just goes to show that even a well educated and respected academician has a chip on his shoulder regarding his contempt for police. By all reports The Professor acted, rudely, insultingly and harassingly to an officer of the law performing his proscribed duties. If ANYONE behaved like that to a cop in my town (Baltimore) he should expect to be given harsh treatment. You get the respect you give and this "Educator" needs to learn a lesson in civility. I fear however we're all going to be required endure another round of "Racial Sensitivity and Awareness Training" via the media. The President should be ashamed of himself for speaking off the cuff on something he knows little to nothing about. Seems he's showing his true "Color" finally, and it doesn't look Red White and Blue from here.

Posted by: MerkMan | July 23, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey remember that poor black immigrant from the Dominican Republic who was shot 60 times after he was reaching for his keys to enter his appartment in NYC a few years ago? Gates is lucky to have come out alive from this.

Posted by: Sanibel1 | July 23, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

one and done I am starting it right here one and done one and done. 44 is not serving the country he can not get beyond his biases to act appropriately. his mothers frustration with health care is another examples. just does not have a servants heart.

Posted by: Rvf0509 | July 23, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

All of the reportage on the arrest indicates that when asked to identify himself and to provide ID, Gates refused.

So I think the arrest rpeort has been corroborated.

Posted by: thinman1 | July 23, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

As a white male who had essentially the same thing happen with police twice I think this has less to do with racism in the police force and more to do with the general disposition of law officers in the US. In both cases I was arrested or cited for offenses other than what I was stopped for and both resulted because I was angry at being harassed by officers after they had cleared me of the offense I was initially stopped for. The last time I was arrested it was because I was fed up after being held and questioned by police for nearly an hour after being cleared of being involved in a fight I had nothing to do with. It's really about kissing ass rather than race. That does not make it any less unpleasant. The officer should have just walked away and Gates should have probably understood that the cop was just doing his job.

Posted by: lexhamfox | July 23, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

And police reports are always accurate? Not biased nor written from a certain perspective.

A man who just got back from a business trip has his Harvard ID but not his MA Driver's License in his wallet?

I suggest you get some brain cells......

Posted by: bhuang2 | July 23, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

It sounds like a clash of egos to me - Gates and the cop. Gates didn't like being challenged and probably mouthed off. The cop didn't like Gates mouthing off at him and arrested him.

Both were ego driven actions, not race. Race was just a catalyst.

As far as those who criticize Obama for "not supporting" the cops, I wonder if you are for or against gun control. Guess which side the cops are on? Do you "support" the cops?

Posted by: mikem1 | July 23, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I suggest you all go read the police report.

- Gates called the officer racist for just asking his name, which he refused to provide.

- The only ID Gates provides was his Harvard ID, not a driver's license, which would have had his address.

- Gates was trying to push the door in. I don;t care if you are balck or white -- that is pretty suspicious activity. Why didn;t he call a neighbor for a spare key? (I'm not suggesting Gates was breaking into a house, but his behavior doesn't make sense.)

Seems to me that Gates is crying wolf on this one.

Posted by: thinman1 | July 23, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

The president is right. Racial profiling in this instance is really irrelevant -- the police arrested a man inside his home who'd already proven his right to be there. Regardless of your race, creed, color, age, sex or religion, that was just purely stupid.

Posted by: Jayne | July 23, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

elizabeth6 wrote: "...It does not help to have a President to come out either way. But if he made no comment at all there would be those who would complain and clearly he is damned if he does and damned if he does not."

I like your comment, but I don't agree with the last point. I think the Gates arrest is VERY insignificant for anyone other then the people directly involved. I understand his frustration, but I do not believe his arrest was racially motivated. I don't think it means anything for America. Obama's unfortunate comment raised it to a level of significance it didn't deserve. Reading Obama's full comments on this, I believe he meant to strike the right balance, but he did not and that has fed the fire. He could very easily have said he didn't want to comment on this incident, since he didn't have all the details and left it at that. Or he could have added in a very general way that he did have concerns about how in some cases race can lead to unnecessary actions by police. Again, no controversy. The problem is that he clearly took sides in a situation where there appears to have been some blame on both sides.

Posted by: dwatson01 | July 23, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Just the facts. The woman who reported the alleged break in was so freaked out by the crime should stood by on the sidewalk. The other black person assisting in the break in she reported was a cab driver. It is reasonable to assume a taxi cab was parked in front of the residence. The reliable reporting witness seems not to have noticed this. Also, it appears that the driver and cab departed before the CPD arrived.

So up to this point we have the perp taking a cab to the house he breaks into, and then the cab departs. Sgt.Crowley arrives. Words are clearly exchanged inside the professor's home. The professor is ID'd. The SGT. then decides to move this from the inside the home to the street. Now that the professor is still talking/yelling it becomes a public disturbance. The arrest then follows.
Does seem that a few errors were made that should have been easily avoided.

Posted by: bunkerhill | July 23, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Unless you are black (which I'm not) no one can understand what it is to be a minority.

They arrested him inside his HOME! INSIDE!

Posted by: A-Voter | July 23, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

There's always 2 or maybe 3 sides to every story.
Lets say I'm a cop and I got a call to investigate a break-in and when I arrived at the resident, I found a man in the act of force entry.
It's reasonable to assumed that the man is a perp until he proves otherwise. If he goes psycho then you have to assumed that he's using some kind of tactics to extracate himself.
Most of us would be glad that the police are there to protect our homes. Racism did not play a part until Gates introduced it into the mix. Unfortunately, he applies racial injustices to every situation that he sees is against him.
Personality, I got hold up twice since moving into the city. Both times happen to be by a black person but I do not think all black people are robbers.

Posted by: Reality09 | July 23, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

It was stupid to arrest someone who had shown ID to the police; they got proof of Dr Gates being the homeowner - emotions got high but there's no law against that. We all do stupid things in overwhelming situtations.

Egos from both sides got carried away but the arrest, to me, smacks of some type of bias/racism.

Posted by: maribethevans | July 23, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

The President made a mistake with his comments. Its seems to me that the person who cried "racial profiling" is the individual at fault. That person, Professor Gates, a friend of the President's, did not like the actions of the Cambridge police and did no cooperate with them. He immediately accused them of racial profiling rather than acting in the interest of public safety. I believe that Professor Gates and, in turn, the President see discrimination around every turn whether it is there or not. The apparently believe that racial accusations are to be shouted and will excuse any behavior. The actions of Professor Gates and the words of the President are disappointing to all of us who want race to be a non issue because they indicate that it is proper to flaunt racial accusations. Their motto seems to be-- when in doubt, accuse.

Posted by: wrightbev | July 23, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

How unfortunate that this ordinarily thoughtful president has so quickly retreated to the redoubt of racial solidarity.Henry Gates has made a career of shouting racism and, in the eyes of many,routinely acts "stupidly" especially in situations where cameras are pointed at him. The president who, by his own admission, was not in possession of the complete factual record of the incident, reflexively accepted Gates' version of the incident at face value. The implicit suggestion that people in their own homes cannot commit crimes or should be immune from arrest is absurd and indicative of a level of ignorance one would not expect of the chief executive. As a supporter of the president I am deeply disappointed with his comments on this matter. His assertion that race must have played a role in it ignores the fact that Cambridge police were responding to a call from a citizen and suggests that, whenever the races of police and citizen differ, "racism" inherently exists. As recent unfortunate incidents have repeatedly demonstrated, police officers responding to calls can never be sure of what they will encounter and must not be constrained by fear that every action they take will be viewed through a prism that allocates the greatest weight to the race of those they interact with. As long as such attitudes persist, meaningful dialogue will continue to be elusive.

Posted by: Cactus09 | July 23, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

With all the outrage by Obama and other black and liberal leaders about the supposed racist bust of Prof. Gates, no similar outrage has occurred about the attack on a white family in Akron, Ohio who was assaulted by a gang of 50 blacks on June 27th. Most people reading this comment probably haven’t even heard about the attack because the media didn’t cover it. No nationwide or world news reports, no outrage by our leaders. If a racist attack occurs against a white working class family, I guess it just doesn’t matter. It just shows the basic hypocrisy of the power and media elite in this country.

Posted by: willmarlow | July 23, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

How it would have happened to me:
Hubby and I try to get into house:
Me: What did u do to the lock
Hubby: Nothing. It just seems jammed.
Me: It never jammed before
Hubby: Well it's jammed now isn't it.
Hubby storms to the back door let's himself in, then let's me in. While we are discussing what happened to the lock, a policeman walks in (no knock). I jump with surprise.
Cop: What are you doing here?
Hubby: We live here, this is our home. Who are you?
Cop: Let's see some ID, Big Guy. (well Hubby is a big guy)
Hubby hands over ID
Me: What is going on? Why are you in our house?
Cop: Official business. Now just be quiet.
Me: Quiet! This is my house! What gives you the right to come into my house like this?
Cop: I told you to be quiet.
Hubby: What is this about?
Cop: Look, I'm asking the questions here. You two step out the door.
Hubby/me: Step out the door for what?
Cop: You are inferring with an official investigation.
Now, at this point, I'd like to know what anyone thinks we have done that is illegal or warrants arrest?
The 4th Amendment states that as citizens we are to be safe and secure in our homes from unreasonable search and seizure. Who would not be frightened if a police officer, armed, walked into their home, uninvited and implied that they were going to arrest you.
The problem is that most of us do not live in places where law enforcement routinely tread upon citizen's rights. We can't imagine how a simple misunderstanding could escalate into an arrest. But it did happen. Even in my scenario, it is entirely up to the cop whether this escalates. He has the power, he has a gun, and the power to arrest. What would have happened if he had just said Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Posted by: ddzeke | July 23, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

One cannot comment in depth because the facts are too biased on both sides. However down through the middle one can imagine the Professor was naturally angry at what he perceived a violation of his privacy and rights. Saying this, if he had managed to control his emotions until the situation had revealed itself naturally it may have been better for all. There have been many occasions when celebrities have lost their tempers,used the " Do you know who I am" card and lived to regret it. Not all have been black, Zsa Zsa Gabor lost her temper, slapped an officer and was cuffed unceremoniously. No matter, there are those who will blow this up,fan the flames and once more ignite the race issue. It does not help to have a President to come out either way. But if he made no comment at all there would be those who would complain and clearly he is damned if he does and damned if he does not.

Posted by: elizabeth6 | July 23, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

The officer acted in a manner that was professional, proper and logical, no matter what the race might be of the homeowner.

Is anyone suggesting that if this were a white man breaking in through his front door in Cambridge, in a neighborhood known for daytime break-ins, and the police were unaware he was the homeowner, that they would not have gone up into the house and questioned the occupants?

Racism had nothing to do with with this.
This incident is about hot-headedness and incivility on the part of Mr. Gates.

But leave it to the race industry in America to try to make something out of it, and in the process damage a good officer's reputation. But without success.

Posted by: FreedomFirst2 | July 23, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

This will be another Bonfire of the Vanities.

I don't think I am going to the bonfire this time.

Posted by: guitar1 | July 23, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

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