Last month, a committee that was set up to investigate the famous arrest in Cambridge of black Harvard don Henry Louis Gates issued its file final report. The press covered it briefly, perhaps one in a million Americans read it, and it dropped from sight. It deserved a lot better. It deserved to be spotlighted as a perfect example of the contemptible rubbish official America writes about race.
The Cambridge Review Committee was set up because the Cambridge police chief, Robert Haas, thought valuable lessons could be learned from the July 2009 arrest that dominated the news and prompted the ridiculous “beer summit” at the White House. The committee, made up of a dozen fancy volunteers–mostly academics, but a few police administrators–chewed through $210,000, missed several deadlines, and finally issued 60 pages of what could be dismissed as pap, were it not for the fact that it is dangerous pap.
The press correctly noted that the report, called Missed Opportunities; Shared Responsibilities, said Prof. Gates and Sergeant James Crowley shared equal blame for the incident. The report then went on to make 10 official recommendations: Police departments must be reformed. Not one of the 10 suggested that the likes of Prof. Gates should cooperate with the police. Perhaps most astonishing, the Cambridge Review Committee issued this set of intrusive, costly recommendations without even trying to find out what really happened.
The committee recognized that the sergeant and the professor gave very different accounts. Sergeant Crowley said (see James Crowley’s Arrest Reports, pages 1 and 2, below) that the professor refused to cooperate, accused him of racism, shouted throughout the encounter, told the officer he didn’t know whom he was “messing with,” threatened reprisals, and shouted, “I’ll speak with your momma outside” when Sergeant Crowley invited him to come out of the house if he wanted to talk.
Despite warnings to calm down, Prof. Gates continued to shout, attracting a crowd, and Sergeant Crowley arrested him for disorderly conduct. Officer Carlos Figueroa, the second officer on the scene, filed a report of his own that is completely consistent with Sergeant Crowley’s. By the time of the arrest, a black officer was present and he said later that he considered the arrest fully justified. The committee report doesn’t mention him.
Prof. Gates’s version was a little different. He told the committee that after he and his driver pushed through the front door of the house, they saw an elderly woman staring at them, and that the driver wondered if she might not be “calling the police on them.” Prof. Gates therefore knew that what the two had done might bring the police. Nevertheless, he said that as soon as Sergeant Crowley appeared and spoke to him, “all the hairs stood up on the back of my neck and I realized that I was in danger.” His account included nothing about non-cooperation, shouting, remarks about “your momma,” or threats of reprisal. He did concede that he said to Sergeant Crowley, “You’re not responding because I am a black man and you are a white officer,” but made it sound as though he was arrested on a whim.
The Cambridge Review Committee says it was not asked to try to find out what really happened adding, rather stupidly, that any such effort would “likely prove fruitless.” Fruitless? By the time of the arrest, there were half-a-dozen police officers in front of Prof. Gates’s house. The woman who had called in the report of a break in had been there from the beginning, and there was a crowd of rubber-neckers. There were plenty of ways to learn the truth, but the committee admits it doesn’t care what happened:
Even if conclusions could be reached [about the facts], the Committee is unanimous in believing that such a narrow focus would miss the larger picture. What matters in this case is that two well-regarded people–one white, one black; one an experienced and well-trained police sergeant, one an eminent scholar–experienced the same event and drew radically divergent conclusions about the implications of what happened.
In other words, it makes no difference if Prof. Gates is lying. It makes no difference if he was abusive and belligerent. It makes no difference if he acted like a spoiled child and got exactly what he deserved. The committee doesn’t even want to know. All that matters to it is that a black and a white had different reactions to what happened.
This is just like campuses that go into an uproar over a noose or the word “nigger,” only to find that a black student did it. Don’t worry, says the administration, all that white breast-beating was good because there is so much racism in the world, and the little dear who did it just needs a little counseling. What actually happened doesn’t matter so long as blacks have a grievance.
So now we have the Cambridge Review Committee, on the basis of avowed, deliberate ignorance of the facts, pronouncing the professor and the officer equally to blame, and telling every police department in America to shape up. Police have to be trained in “inter-personal communication,” they have to understand the limits of police discretion, they have to “engage the community,” and they have to host “community forums.” Most insulting of all, the Cambridge Police Department has to change its hiring procedures to get recruits with the right “skills, abilities, and character traits.” By all accounts, Sergeant Crowley is about as fine an officer as any department in the country can hope to get. To conclude from this incident that the recruitment procedures that got him on the Cambridge force are defective is pandering of the most disgusting kind.
Like so many people, the members of the Cambridge Review Committee are probably capable of sequential thought on most subjects, but when the subject is race they become morons. In no other context would they cheerfully say they don’t even know what happened but then roll out a truckload of recommendations that require reform from only one side. Despite having almost a year to think about the incident, the committee behaved exactly as Barack Obama did when he first heard about it: Blame whitey even if you don’t know what happened.
To anyone with a functioning brain it is clear that there would have been no unpleasantness if Prof. Gates had held his tongue and done as he was asked, but Prof. Gates couldn’t do that. He is a professional “racism” hunter, constantly on the prowl for white wickedness. He has made a long career of blaming the white man, and here, maybe for the first time in his life, was a chance to be a real victim. Practically the first thing he did was bellow about racism, and he was still bellowing–to a gathering crowd–when the cuffs went on.
The committee should have made only one recommendation, and it should have made it to black people: Be polite to the police. By putting even part of the blame for the arrest on Sergeant Crowley, and by refusing to condemn Prof. Gates’s stupidity and arrogance, the committee is only encouraging more black stupidity and self-importance–and giving more and more whites reason to despise their rulers.