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
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael Duggin
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail