Tag Archives: Gates

DO INTELLIGENT PEOPLE MAKE STUPID MISTAKES?

The air these days is filled with loud angry statements by those who defend Sgt. Crowley against what is viewed as a slur upon his name. The assumption of these defenders is that President Obama called Sgt. Crowley “stupid.” Actually, he never did, he referred to the arrest as an example of “stupidity.” I am often bemused at the virulent anger displayed by defenders of Crowley. During the initial days of their defense many challenged those attacking the police officer to check his report and tapes. Well, many have checked his report and the tapes. It is now PROVEN that Sgt. Crowley made a “mistake” by saying the eye witness said there were two black men with knapsacks on the porch. Ms. Whalen’s said there were two suitcases and under questioning said one of them might have been “Hispanic.” In other words, the Crowley report is erroneous.

Did Sgt. Crowly lie? Of course not! He was excited, felt stress and heard words never spoken. Anyone reading my words has suffered through many such occurrences in their own lives. In moments of stress we hear what we want to hear. In so doing, WE MAKE A MISTAKE. Wow. Sgt. Crowley is a human. I thought it was regrettable during his meeting with Gates he failed to acknowledge his mistakes in the written report.

The bottom line is that President Obama was perfectly correct in terming the entire incident an example of “stupidity.” Sorry, if this incident happened in a wealthy neighborhood and the man identified himself as the white CEO of a major company, Sgt. Crowley would have said: “sorry for the intrusion. I just wanted to check everything was OK. Have a good one” and gone his merry way.

Every study of police halting people indicates African Americans and Hispanics are halted at least ten times more frequently than white people. Gates belonged to a group who have, historically, been racially profiled and humiliated. He was upset, angry, confused, and ready to strike back at what he thought was another example of racial profiling. Perfectly understandable, and, perhaps, in this case incorrect. No one knows what was going on in the mind of Sgt. Crowley, but certainly when a black elderly man identified himself as the owner of the house, regardless of his tone of voice, the matter should have been dropped.

Those of you who seek to blame Obama as insulting all police might seek to ask Sgt. Crowley whether he unintentionally was insulting all African Americans.

So What Did The “Witness” To Gates Incident Say?

The ongoing saga of what actually happened and what was said in the now notorious case of Henry Louis Gates has raised more questions than answers. Lucia Whalen reported the incident and says she told the operator that an elderly woman had stopped her to report two men trying to get into a house. Whalen says she initially saw two men pushing on the door, but later stated one of the men entered the house and she did see two suitcases on the porch. “I don’t know if they live there and they just had a hard time with their key. But, I did notice they used their shoulder to try to barge in and they got in.” She originally did not mention race of the men but was pressed by the operator and said “one looked kind of Hispanic, but I’m not really sure.”

According to the report submitted by Sgt. Crowley he claims Ms. Whalen “went on to tell me that she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch.” Her lawyer says Ms. Whalen never mentioned the race of the men to Crowley.

It is quite clear there are now three versions of what happened– Gates, Crowley, and Whalen. Are we to assume Ms. Whalen will get an invitation to the White House to sit in on the now famous chat?

Sgt.Crowley Made A Stupid Mistake-He’s Human!

I have spent over twenty years teaching courses on “The History of Crime” and have been pleased to have many members of the police force as my students. I have the highest respect for those who risk their lives to serve the public, but, one thing has become clear to me after 53 years of teaching over 15,000 students. We all make mistakes. I am certain Sgt. Crowley is an excellent police officer, but he blew it this time by over-reacting. I begin from the premise that anyone who interacts with the public is prone to making errors of judgment. I assume that among my thousands of interactions with students I allow my emotions, my prejudices and experiences to get in the way of my normal sense of objectivity. I am human. This means I must have made at least two hundred mistakes in my life as a teacher.

Yes, those who work with the public, on occasion, allow emotions to get in the way. For example this past semester on nine occasions I contacted a student after class and apologized for being too curt in class, for making a grading mistake or for not grasping the point they made in class. I have worked with over 2,000 student teachers and the first lesson they learn is whenever there is a disturbance, restore order, don’t make threats, and above all, don’t send anyone to the principal’s office until you have had a chance to deal in a calm manner with the situation. I assure those of you who have never taught, that any normal, honest teacher can recount hundreds of times when it was necessary to bite one’s tongue, to be overly pleasant and to ignore rudeness and insults because acting in anger only created more problems.

I contacted a former student and asked for his opinion on the Gates situation.(I can not reveal his name). He responded by saying his initial focus is to restore calm to a situation., He refused to judge Crowley, but said if he had responded to the burglary call, his first comment to Gates would have been: “Sir, we have a report of a burglary. Are you OK? Is there anything I could do for you?” He said when the door is opened by an elderly man, you assume he will be upset and distraught because he is frightened and confused so get him sitting down, get him water to reduce his anxiety. My former student said words to this effect: “professor, I work in St. Louis which is mainly African American. If I entered a home where a black elderly man said he was a professor from Washington University, the first picture in my mind is to get things calm or I will wind up on the front page of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. I have a family, I attend night school, I don’t have time for filling out papers and getting into a mess.” He said he next would have asked Gates if he wanted him to contact Harvard or get a neighbor or family member over to the house to help him. Then, he would have apologized for any inconvenience, given his name and told Gates if he needed any further assistance to contact him.

Everyone in the public eye has made the Crowley mistake, we allowed our emotions to get the upper hand and lost sight of what we all desire –peace and calm in our lives and no shouting and screaming. I recently received an email from students I taught in 1959 and one said she could never forget how sometimes when the lesson was going poorly, I would stop, apologize to the class for my failure as a teacher and promise to do better the next day.

An article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch quotes a detective from Queens: “If you locked up everybody that was technically disorderly – you’ve got to know which battles to fight.” Wise words. That is my mantra to new teachers, keep it cool, keep it calm, but know when you have to take a stand. An elderly man who is distraught at an incorrect burglary claim is not the place to take any stand. Just say you are sorry and get on with your life if you have a brain in your policeman’s head.

I find fascinating how many have rushed to the defense of Sgt. Crowley. I assume when they are stopped by the police for not coming to a complete stop at a Stop Sign or pulled over for speeding, the first words out of their mouth is to thank the police. I’m normal. I grit my teeth and mutter curses under by breath. As NY State Senator Eric Adams, a retired New York City policeman, commented: “If it’s their house, they’re allowed to call you all sorts of names. A man’s house is his castle.”

You blew it Sgt. Crowley, but don’t worry, at least you are human.

NRA BACKS PROFESSOR GATES!

We are pleased to present a scoop in the story of Professor Henry Gates and his encounter with jack booted police who forced their way into his home. Here is the true story!

Gates: Who are you? What do you want?
Crowley: We have a report that a man who was in possession of illegal weapons was seen entering this house.
G: This is my home. Yes, I have guns in this house, but they are mine and it is none of your business about my guns.
C: We have a report that someone was seen entering this resident and he had illegal weapons. We are going to search your home for those illegal weapons.
G: Like hell, you are. This is my home, I have my guns and no one is entering without my permission and you sure don’t have it.
C: I would advise you to stand aside and allow me to enter. I believe there are illegal guns in this house and we will find them.
G: Do you know who you are messing with, boy?
C: No, who am I messing with?
G: I am the head of the Massachusetts National Rifle Association and we don’t intend to have jack booted cops busting into homes taking away our guns.
C: I don’t have jack boots, but I am entering and, frankly, I don’t give a damn if you head the NRA of America.
G: A man has a right to his guns and no government agent is coming in. I advise you to back off because we NRA people don’t take lightly to folk like you abusing our rights.
C: Please get out of the way or else!
G: Or else what, boy? This is my home. These are my guns. No government is going to take them away. Tell me boy, have you read the 2nd Amendment? It says a man has a right to his guns to defend himself to jack booted cops like you.
C: I’m giving you one more warning. Stand aside or I will arrest you.
G: No one gets my guns. I want your name and your badge number. It will be sent to NRA headquarters. Boy, you is in for some real serious trouble.
C: You are under arrest and we are going to search for those guns.

Professor Gates was placed under arrest and taken to police headquarters. The NRA is organizing a national protest against police entering homes to take guns away from God-fearing American citizens. God Bless the NRA for standing up for the rights of Professor Henry Louis Gates!!

OBAMA WAS RIGHT–THE COPS ACTED STUPID!

I realize President Obama has been placed in an awkward position by right wing talk shows because he spoke the truth– Professor Henry Louis Gates was treated by police in a racist manner. I am a 78 year old white haired white man. About several months ago, I was working downstairs and when I came up stairs to get a cup of coffee I realized the front door was not locked and my wallet was gone. I called the police to report a burglary. About ten minutes later, there was a knock on the door. I opened it and began speaking in an excited voice about the wallet. At no time did the two policemen ask for any ID from me. Actually, I could have been the burglar but they realized the old white haired man was upset. They calmed me down and then one of the police examined my cluttered table and found the wallet. We all laughed.

My behavior was akin to that of Professor Gates. I was upset, distraught, and slightly out of emotional control. The police calmed me down. An elderly man who is upset is not a physical threat to anyone, certainly I was not anymore a threat to the police than was Professor Gates. We laughed. My question is why was there the absence of laughter in this situation? It could have avoided having the nation have one more item for its silly season.

Was Arrest Of Henry Louis Gates An Act Of Stupidity?

The furor surrounding the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates in his own home is still causing ripples after President Barack Obama made clear he regarded the entire episode as an example of stupidity. Sergeant James Crowley, the white policeman who was summoned to the home of Professor Gates after receiving a complaint about a break-in, insists he acted properly and the president had no right to term his actions stupid. He thought it was incorrect for the president to wade “into what should be a local issue.” Supporters of Crowley argue Gates was responsible for his own arrest by overreacting.

The president’s words are very clear concerning the matter. “I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry. Number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. And number three– what I think we know separate and apart from this incident– is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately and that’s just a fact.”

The bottom line is–who believes if Gates was a white man in his sixties and opened the door, showed an ID and explained the situation that he would have been arrested? If he had been white, the police officer would have laughed with Gates and waved goodbye. A few months ago I reported a burglary and a police officer came to my door. I am a white haired man of 78. He never asked for an ID as proof that it was my apartment. I told him someone stole my wallet while I was downstairs working at my computer. He gently had me sit in a chair, rummaged around my paper strewn table and found the wallet. He smiled at me and said goodbye. That’s what happens when one is white skinned and in their seventies.

Sorry, Sgt. Crowley, YOU ARE THE ONE WHO OVERREACTED!

Afghanistan Fight Getting Better Says Mullen

Eight years ago, several thousand American troops along with Muslim allies swept through Afghanistan and defeated the Taliban. Fast forward until today and there are now 58,000 US troops in the country with thousands more on the way. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
and Chief of Staff Mike Mullen told Senators the situation is improving and they hope to have even more positive results in eighteen months. “It’s very important for us to be able to show the American people that we are moving forward,” said Mullen. Actually, the issue is not telling the American people things are improving, the issue is actually having a plan to defeat the Taliban.

Mullen and Gates insist the Pakistan army is now on the offense against the Taliban and American and other European troops are finally doing something to clear out the Taliban. The only way the Taliban will be defeated is for the Afghanistan government to create an armed force and instill the nation to defeat the enemy. Will that be true ten years after the invasion of Afghanistan? Check with use eighteen months from now.

Secretary Gates Not Concerned About Iran

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made clear he does not share Israel’s concern over Iran and its nuclear development program. He also made clear US relations with Iran will not result in any agreement that would endanger other Middle Eastern nations. “There’s probably some concerns in the region that may draw on an exaggerated sense of what’s possible.” Gates said President Obama is offering an open hand to the Iranians but don’t be surprised if their initial reaction is a closed fist. He urged other Arab nations to open embassies in Baghdad in order to counter Iran’s influence in that county.

Another issue that Gates must address is where prisoners who are released from Guantanamo will be sent. Nearly half the 200 detainees come from Yemen, but it would be dangerous sending them back to a country where escape from prison is not that difficult. Gates is trying to persuade Yemen to allow Saudi Arabia to handle the rehabilitation of the prisoners.

It is unfortunate that too many people in the Middle East are overly fearful of Iran. There is sufficient force available to make any Iranian air strike a disastrous turn of events for that nation.

Gates To Israel –Stay Out Of Iran

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made clear to Israel that any air strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would only have a temporary result and would not deter that nation from pursuing nuclear power, if anything, it would accelerate the push for nuclear weapons. Speaking to US senators, he insisted an air strike would merely send Iranian efforts underground and make even more difficult the quest to end its push for nuclear weapons. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear the best way to deal with Iran was through negotiations, and if that effort failed, the imposition of economic sanctions. Gates emphasized the importance of involving Russia in efforts to stabilize the region and deal with the threat of nuclear weapons.

An Israel air strike would also result in hundreds of missiles being fired at Israel and the appearance of dozens of suicide bombers. As Gates made clear, at best nuclear development in Iran would only be set back, not ended.

Robert Gates Calls For Halt In Old Weapon Development

The end of the Berlin Wall nearly twenty years ago led many to expect the end of the Cold War would result in large scale reductions in military expenditures. Of course, after years of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, military expenditures continue to rise. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced it was time to put an end to the production of high tech weaponry that was designed to be part of a Cold War arsenal and to think in modern terms. “We must rebalance this department’s program,” he announced, “in order to institutionalize and finance our capabilities to fight the war we are in today and the scenarios we are most likely to face in the years ahead.” It is about time someone looked at the reality of what we face and cease believing we need squadrons of high tech fighter planes when no such enemy exists.

Of course, the unknown factor is how Congress will react to the news of cutting back on production of high tech planes and weaponry since to do so means laying off workers. Which will take precedence- reducing military expenditures or keeping people working making equipment that can not be used in modern warfare?