Monthly Archives: July 2009

Now that’s what I call a “Beer Summit.” Not this dog and pony show —

Still Skippy says Barry should get a pony.

“Sergeant Crowley and I, through an accident of time and place, have been cast together, inextricably, as characters – as metaphors, really – in a thousand narratives about race over which he and I have absolutely no control. Narratives about race are as old as the founding of this great Republic itself, but these new ones have unfolded precisely when Americans signaled to the world our country’s great progress by overcoming centuries of habit and fear, and electing an African American as President. It is incumbent upon Sergeant Crowley and me to utilize the great opportunity that fate has given us to foster greater sympathy among the American public for the daily perils of policing on the one hand, and for the genuine fears of racial profiling on the other hand.
Let me say that I thank God that I live in a country in which police officers put their lives at risk to protect us every day, and, more than ever, I’ve come to understand and appreciate their daily sacrifices on our behalf. I’m also grateful that we live in a country where freedom of speech is a sacrosanct value and I hope that one day we can get to know each other better, as we began to do at the White House this afternoon over beers with President Obama.
Thank God we live in a country where speech is protected, a country which guarantees and defends my right to speak out when I believe my rights have been violated; a country that protects us from arrest when we do express our views, no matter how unpopular.
And thank God that we have a President who can rise above the fray, bridge age-old differences and transform events such as this into a moment in the evolution of our society’s attitudes about race and difference. President Obama is a man who understands tolerance and forgiveness, and our country is blessed to have such a leader.
The national conversation over the past week about my arrest has been rowdy, not to say tumultuous and unruly. But we’ve learned that we can have our differences without demonizing one another. There’s reason to hope that many people have emerged with greater sympathy for the daily perils of policing, on the one hand, and for the genuine fears about racial profiling, on the other hand.
Having spent my academic career trying to bridge differences and promote understanding among Americans, I can report that it is far more comfortable being the commentator than being commented upon. At this point, I am hopeful that we can all move on, and that this experience will prove an occasion for education, not recrimination. I know that Sergeant Crowley shares this goal. Both of us are eager to go back to work tomorrow. And it turns out that the President just might have a few other things on his plate as well.”


Well here’s Crowley —

Pas mal. Et Maintenant –“The Newspaper of Record”:

The much-anticipated “beer summit” of President Obama, the Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department in Massachusetts took place Thursday night, accompanied by minute-by-minute reporting from the White House press corps, countdown clocks from the cable news networks, and a last-minute addition by the White House in the form of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
After 10 days of near nonstop news coverage of a case that prompted a thousand news stories about race, the men sat down for less than an hour at a table across from the Oval Office under a magnolia tree.
“What you had today was two gentlemen who agreed to disagree on a particular issue,” a poised and smooth Sergeant Crowley said in a 15-minute news conference after the session. “We didn’t spend too much time dwelling on the past, and we decided to look forward.”
Professor Gates said in an interview, “I don’t think anybody but Barack Obama would have thought about bringing us together.”
The two men and their families first encountered each other in the White House library while each group was on individual tours of the White House on Thursday afternoon.
“Nobody knew what to do,” Professor Gates said. “So I walked over, stuck out my hand and said, ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you.’ That broke the awkwardness.”
Sergeant Crowley added that the families “had continued the tour as a group while the beer talk commenced.” He described the interaction between families as very cordial.
Professor Gates concurred, saying: “We hit it off right from the beginning. When he’s not arresting you, Sergeant Crowley is a really likable guy.”

Words fail.

“By the time the two men began their meeting with Mr. Obama, they could already report progress and told the president that they had made plans to lunch together soon.
“I am thankful to Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley for joining me at the White House this evening for a friendly, thoughtful conversation,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “Even before we sat down for the beer, I learned that the two gentlemen spent some time together listening to one another, which is a testament to them.”
The addition of Mr. Biden was interesting, for a number of reasons. Mr. Biden was able to draw on his credibility with blue-collar, labor union America and his roots in Scranton, Pa., to add balance to the photo op that the White House presented: two black guys, two white guys, sitting around a table.”

As if the obscene theatricaliuty of the whole thing needed underscoring.

“Earlier in the day, Mr. Obama had berated reporters for obsessing on the theatrics of the meeting, saying he was “fascinated with the fascination” over the issue, which has been boiling since Sergeant Crowley, responding to a call about a possible break-in, arrested Professor Gates for disorderly conduct even though he had ascertained that he was in his own home.
Mr. Obama added fuel to the fire a week later when he said in response to a question at a news conference that the Cambridge police had “acted stupidly” in arresting Professor Gates, a word choice he later said he regretted.
“I noticed this has been called the beer summit,” Mr. Obama said after meeting earlier Thursday with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines. “It’s a clever term, but this is not a summit, guys. This is three folks having a drink at the end of the day and hopefully giving people an opportunity to listen to each other.”
The press was allowed only a peek at the gathering for about 40 seconds — and from a distance so great that reporters could not hear a word that was said.”

Nonetheless, some details emerged:
¶Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden were in shirtsleeves; Sergeant Crowley and Professor Gates wore suits.
¶The four drank out of beer mugs. Mr. Obama had a Bud Lite, Sergeant Crowley had Blue Moon, Professor Gates drank Sam Adams Light and Mr. Biden, who does not drink, had a Buckler nonalcoholic beer. (Mr. Biden put a lime slice in his beer. Sergeant Crowley, for his part, kept with Blue Moon tradition and had a slice of orange in his drink.)
¶The four men munched peanuts and pretzels out of small silver bowls.
Reporters and photographers had positioned themselves on the grounds waiting for the gathering to start, when a white family of five showed up. Were they the Crowleys? “Excuse me, may I ask who you are?” a reporter shouted.
“Not who you think,” came the reply.

Now there’s a mystery for you. Who were these people? One thing’s for sure — they were probably wanting something stronger than beer.

Sing us out kids.