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The Big Stupid in Cambridge

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Rob Kall     Permalink
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"Some Scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe."
Frank Zappa

I don't think the Gates arrest story is all about racism. I'm willing to believe that the Sgt. James Crowley is not a racist, that he's a good man. after all, this is a man who, as USA Today reports, gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a dying black Boston Celtics star Reggie Lewis "when the basketball player crumbled on a practice court with heart problems."

I'm willing to believe that he was not motivated by racist reasons when he followed up on a call that two men were breaking into a house.

But He did something stupid, even malicious. Once he was in the home of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and had confirmed that Gates belonged there and was not engaging in any illegal behavior, he should have apologized and left the scene.

He should have understood, being an instructor who taught about racial profiling, that this encounter would be upsetting to a black man who studies racism, who knew that there had been a history of racial profiling incidents in Cambridge.

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He should have accepted that the woman who made the call reporting a crime was in error and that, having done his job, a man, in his own home, had a right to be irate. Crowley had no right to arrest a man in his own home for calling him OR his mother names.

But he took offense and decided he had the right to arrest a man for getting angry, for calling this special cop, this holier than anyone cop, names.

That was stupid. That was worse than stupid. it was emotional. It was abuse of police power. It is exactly the kind of thing that happens to blacks, to latinos, to teenagers all over America. A cop uses his power to arrest in a way that goes beyond the situation. He arrests someone for an attitude, for cross words, for a glare or dirty look.

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That CAN be racism, or it can be simply the abuse of power. It is often both.

There is no doubt that Crowley had to go to Gates' house and check things out.

But I think that Gates also over-reacted. When someone asks for my identification when I am cashing a check at a bank, I don't take offense. I am not insulted that I am not trusted. I thank the teller for being cautious, protecting my security. Gates could have shown his ID and thanked Crowley and that would have been that. But he didn't. Gates took offense too. Even if Crowley came to the house with a typical cop "attitude," treating Gates with less than the respect Gates was accustomed to receiving as a noted Harvard professor, Gates did not need to get angry. But, as a historian of black history, as a man who knew personally and professionaly the context in which he was being affronted, he had some right, in his own home, to show indignance and even to shout it. Though it was an understandable, even justifiable response, it doesn't mean it was the best response.

They were both wrong, both over-reacted, took unnecessary offense. They both need to show some contrition.

As I write, Mika Brehzinski says, "Watching two men getting their back up,- it leads to things escalating.... there is a chance race played no role in this."

Too much testosterone in both men? Too little forbearance? Two strong men butting heads? Perhaps all of the above.

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But all this took place within the context of history-- ironically, a history that both men knew well. It seems that both of them were unable to rise above their knowledge of the past, helplessly falling into patterns of behavior that are repeated in racially charged situations thousands of times in America.

I'd like to hope that the two of them can work things out.

Gates lost it, continuing to go after Crowley once the issue was resolved.

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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites, OpEdNews.com

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

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