Saturday, August 01, 2009
This and that
If Professor Gates ranted and raved at the cop who entered his home uninvited with a badge, a gun and an attitude, he didn’t rant and rave for long. The 911 call came in at about 12:45 on the afternoon of July 16 and, as The Times has reported, Mr. Gates was arrested, cuffed and about to be led off to jail by 12:51.
The charge: angry while black.
The president of the United States has suggested that we use this flare-up as a “teachable moment,” but so far exactly the wrong lessons are being drawn from it—especially for black people. The message that has gone out to the public is that powerful African-American leaders like Mr. Gates and President Obama will be very publicly slapped down for speaking up and speaking out about police misbehavior, and that the proper response if you think you are being unfairly targeted by the police because of your race is to chill.
I have nothing but contempt for that message.
It was the police officer, Sergeant Crowley, who did something wrong in this instance. He arrested a man who had already demonstrated to the officer’s satisfaction that he was in his own home and had been minding his own business, bothering no one. Sergeant Crowley arrested Professor Gates and had him paraded off to jail for no good reason, and that brings us to the most important lesson to be drawn from this case. Black people are constantly being stopped, searched, harassed, publicly humiliated, assaulted, arrested and sometimes killed by police officers in this country for no good reason.
Yep, even when they’re EMTs in ambulances taking people to the hospital.
And if I had a Bud Light for every time someone has told me that Gates was “arrogant” and/or that Obama was “foolish” to weigh in on the matter, I’d have myself a whole lot of Bud Light. I am not making this up. It has been most depressing. Though when I’m arrested for disorderly conduct after breaking into my house and giving my ID to a police officer and eventually invited to the White House for a beer, I plan to make mine a Duff.
On a whole nother note, I have been trying to see movies about which people say, “Merciful Moloch! You mean to tell me you’ve never seen ...?” So a few months ago I saw Casablanca for the first time. At age 47-1/2. Wow! It’s better than I thought it would be. But on the down side, it’s full of quotations. And last night we saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s, because Janet said, “Merciful Moloch! You mean to tell me you’ve never seen ...?” It too was better than I thought it would be. And halfway through, the thought occurred to me that maybe, just maybe Mad Men owes a thing or two to this movie.
Have a fun weekend. And in order to have a fun weekend, be sure to avoid people whose opinions on Gatesgate differ from Bob Herbert’s.