Monday, July 27, 2009



Day before yesterday, right after I got to work and as I was sitting at my desk, three or four of the guys were standing a few feet away talking about the Henry Gates arrest in Cambridge and subsequent controversy. Needless to say, they were doing little more than confirming to each other Sgt. James Crowley's version. I didn't say anything.

When they were done, one of them, a close friend, turned to me and asked, "Have you ever supported the white guy in a situation like this?" I guess it was because he figured liberals would always accept the black guy's version - regardless of the circumstances.

Truth is, I hadn't formed an opinion because I didn't have all the facts then - and I still don't.

Here we have a black professor: well known, physically unimposing, unarmed and with no history of violence whatsoever, claiming to be a victim of racial profiling, police intimidation and false arrest on trumped up charges. On the other hand we have the account of the officer, a man apparently without a history of racial confrontation, who claims he made the arrest because he feared for his life.

Both men are probably telling some of the truth, but one of them is guilty and I don't know which. This got me to thinking.

Much as we would like, we will probably never know the entire truth about what happened that day. Its the typical "he said she said" moment. Are there bigoted white cops out there who abuse their commissions to commit acts of racism? You bet there are. Are there blacks out there who, in situations like this, would cynically manipulate a history of racial prejudice to avoid guilt? Ditto. So in this case, I guess the best you can do is just roll the dice and take your pick.

I'm not going to end this with some kind of namby-pamby, catchall version of this affair where we conclude that both were honorable men, both over-reacted and neither of them is to blame. Hogwash. As I said, one of them is guilty - but only they know which.

If there is anything to be learned here, it isn't who was guilty and why. It is who we chose to believe and why. And, having made that choice, no manner of additional information, up to and including a complete, video recording of the entire event, is going to change most people's minds. Its just in our nature - and that's the saddest part. What do you think?


1 comment:

  1. To be honest, the first I heard of the Cambridge arrest was a crawl (on both CNN and FOX) reporting the President accused the officer in the arrest of acting "stupidly".
    I was surprised and figured something really wacky must have happened.

    When I took time to actually look into it (I have many more pressing matters on my mind), I was stunned to discover that the reporting by *all* the networks - apparently being most concerned with being 'scooped', as they used to say - did NOT have the officer's version of the incident... and neither (so it appeared) did the President before commenting.
    Clearly, the whole thing got blown out-of-control unnecessarily. And is remaining at the forefront mostly because neither side wants to back-down after having made an admittedly hasty decision (and there are those with nothing better to do than keep stirring the pot).

    I guess I agree with you that the truly sad thing is people have been / are being trained to rush to judgment, mostly to aid in the pursuit of an agenda, not in a pursuit of the truth... One reaps what they sow; in this case the generation of discord and invented controversy seems to be the Real Goal.

    Pity that we stoop so low and consider such actions as 'acceptable' behavior.