LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Professor to blame in Mass. ‘race’ incident

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With the recently issued findings of a committee that found both men at fault, the highly publicized incident involving Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department has been turned into one of pure mollycoddling and political appeasement (“Report faults Harvard teacher and cop,” Web, News, Wednesday).

Sgt. Crowley, an experienced police officer and one with a good reputation, did his job correctly. Mr. Gates, who was attempting to break into his own house after being locked out in the darkness of night, was egregiously uncooperative when Sgt. Crowley arrived to investigate after police were summoned by a neighbor.

Sgt. Crowley had no idea that Mr. Gates lived there, nor did he know who, upon arrival to the scene, the man was. When Sgt. Crowley questioned him and asked for identification, Mr. Gates did not respond with respect or in a manner befitting a professor or a man of his assumed stature. Failing to comply, he displayed extremely hostile and argumentative behavior and started shouting. Mr. Gates‘ bad behavior and blatant refusal to comply with a legitimate law enforcement request led to his arrest. He has only himself to blame for it.

Rather than accepting ownership for his despicable behavior, however, Mr. Gates turned the tables on Sgt. Crowley and accused him of racism. To make matters worse, President Obama put his foot in his mouth when he inappropriately got involved and publicly stated that the officer “acted stupidly.” This statement only added to the public furor that had been generated.

Mr. Gates took the easy way out for himself and tried to turn the incident into a racial issue. Regardless of the color of his skin or any other identifying factor, Mr. Gates failed to respond to a law enforcement order to produce identification. If his skin reflected red and green polka dots, nothing would have changed the reason for the request. Accusing Sgt. Crowley of racism was a cowardly response.

Now, a year later, a committee has placed blame on both men and contended that both could have lowered the temperature of the situation. This comes after the charges were dropped to provide a “just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances,” according to the Cambridge Police Department.

The crux of the matter is that the aftermath of this incident has been nothing more than a pathetic display of political appeasement. Everyone, including Mr. Obama - who hosted the first White House Beer Fest for the two men - has been tiptoeing around the event by couching it in an errant caption of “racism.”

Simply put, Sgt. Crowley handled the situation appropriately while being verbally attacked with demeaning insults by Mr. Gates. The fault lies with Mr. Gates, and he should have been man enough to acknowledge the blame for his conduct.

KAREN L. BUNE

Alexandria, Va.

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