FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Beer Will Not Solve This

Beer solves a lot of things. This is not one.

I don’t live that far from Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr., just outside of Cambridge, Massachusetts.  There are daytime break-ins in homes in my neighborhood from time to time. My wife and I recently encountered a woman in our neighborhood on the street who was very agitated and asked to use my cell phone to call 911 because she thought her apartment building was being broken into. We waited as the police arrived; it turned out to be a false alarm. The robbers were movers for another tenant. The woman was Latino or Black, I’m white, my wife Japanese, the cops Black and white. This sort of anxiety and also ethnic situation is not so unusual in the area.

Anyway I can well understand why a woman in Cambridge would call 911 as she did after hearing from a second woman that two men (she called them “gentlemen”) had tried to get into a house and broken the screen door. Some of the initial commentary on this incident depicted the caller as a white racist but there seems no evidence for that. And I have no idea of how race enters into Sergeant James M. Crowley’s interactions with people.

But this is what really annoys me. The sergeant goes into a man’s house, taking him by surprise, demanding identification. When the man in return demands ID he calls him uncooperative and calls for back-up. When he has the audacity to follow him out of the house he has the backup forces handcuff the professor and take him off  to jail.

I don’t know that this was done deliberately by Crowley to make some sort of point to the world about how people of color or people in general ought to behave towards the police in order to avoid being arrested.  But he is after all part of a culture.

“You don’t argue with a police officer,” Colin Powell told Larry King, commenting on the Gates episode and his own personal history. (“You just suck up,” the general recommends, speaking apparently to any wishing to emulate his own career path, one suck-up after another from the My Lai Massacre cover-up to that amazing UN speech of absolute fabrications justifying the Iraq War in 2003.)

But why not argue, if anyone in this society is supposed to believe it’s a free one? Why should arguing with a cop, or just demanding his name and badge—after he’s walked into your house—get you get you arrested for “disorderly conduct”? Why should he have the right to do that to you—as a Black man or as anybody else—just because he’s a cop?

A cop’s someone supposed to be doing a job protecting the public. Isn’t that the idea? Instead he or she is given impunity to bust people he/she finds personally uppity. This is a system problem.

A couple of beers at the White House is not going solve it. It may be that after seeing the glowing cheeks and smiling faces at the press conference afterwards, and hearing the reconciliatory carefully worded statements made, the thoughtful mind observing this little drama may actually require a few more drinks.

GARY LEUPP is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.

He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu

More articles by:

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

Weekend Edition
April 27, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Dan Bacher
California’s Love Affair With Big Oil: from Marine ‘Protection’ to Cap-and-Trade
Michael Doliner
Big News About Russia
Ralph Nader
Citizen-Mayor Gayle Roars through Richmond California
James McEnteer
Adding Incel to Injury
Ron Jacobs
A Warning Likely to Be Unheeded: A Review of Norman Pollack’s Final Book
Dean Baker
The Amazon Tax: Higher Rents
Shamus Cooke
Portland’s Socialists Protest New Navy Ship, U.S.S Portland, as Democrats Bestow it Honors
Craig Gordon
Which Side Are Union “Leaders” On?
Malú Huacuja del Toro
Sean Penn Dismisses Mexican Victims of Organized Crime . . . Again
Fran Teplitz
Corporations Should Have to Hear From Their Owners
Robert Koehler
Can We Unlock the Golden Door?
Binoy Kampmark
Plunder Down Under: the Rot in Australia’s Financial Services
Saurav Sarkar
Bring Back May Day
Graham Peebles
Crisis of Consciousness: Change and the Individual
Louis Proyect
Racism and Eugenics, American-Style
April 26, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
As Trump Berates Iran, His Options are Limited
Daniel Warner
From May 1968 to May 2018: Politics and Student Strikes
Simone Chun – Kevin Martin
Diplomacy in Korea and the Hope It Inspires
George Wuerthner
The Attack on Wilderness From Environmentalists
CJ Hopkins
The League of Assad-Loving Conspiracy Theorists
Richard Schuberth
“MeToo” and the Liberation of Sex
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Sacred Assemblies in Baghdad
Dean Baker
Exonerating Bad Economic Policy for Trump’s Win
Vern Loomis
The 17 Gun Salute
Gary Leupp
What It Means When the U.S. President Conspicuously and Publicly Removes a Speck of Dandruff from the French President’s Lapel
Robby Sherwin
The Hat
April 25, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Selective Outrage
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
Joseph Essertier
The Abductees of Japan and Korea
Ramzy Baroud
The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago
W. T. Whitney
Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
Manuel E. Yepe
Washington’s Attack on Syria Was a Mockery of the World
John White
My Silent Pain for Toronto and the World
Dean Baker
Bad Projections: the Federal Reserve, the IMF and Unemployment
David Schultz
Why Donald Trump Should Not be Allowed to Pardon Michael Cohen, His Friends, or Family Members
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Binoy Kampmark
Enoch Powell: Blood Speeches and Anniversaries
Frank Scott
Weapons and Walls
April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail