Re "On race, Harvard still must learn," Opinion, Aug. 2
Lurita Doan chides Henry Louis Gates Jr. for being "locked in the past regarding race," suggesting that he sees himself as a victim and also demands preferential treatment. But her conclusions rest on unquestioned acceptance of Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley's version of events.
Crowley's police report states that the 911 caller told him "she observed what appeared to be two black men with backpacks" at Gates' home. This caller has emphatically denied to the media that she made any such racially tinged statement. Indeed, the 911 call recording shows that when the operator asked the caller to identify the suspects' race, she responded only that one may have been "Hispanic."
This suggests that the officer's recollection of what Gates said may not be entirely accurate. Until the discrepancy in Crowley's police report is explained, there is a lot more we all "must learn" before drawing such conclusions.
I say "amen" to Doan's article, which went right to the heart of the matter. I also see this situation as cop versus "Don't you know who I am?" or "How dare you apply equal application of the law to me, as though I were some commoner."
This whole thing has been totally twisted out of context. The original incident was a total exposure of police abuse. Why are police officers so sensitive to being "talked back to"? They really need some sensitivity training into what it feels like to having your head kicked in while handcuffed and on the ground. Why is "talking back" to a police officer a crime?
The president's stupidity was not in calling the arrest "stupid," which it was, but in retracting it. Racism was a secondary factor.