Possibly because the aggrieved Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a University Professor (literary critic, educator, scholar, writer, editor, with “distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities”), a familiarity with college protests comes to mind: The ‚Äė60s Jerry Rubin mantra ”Never trust anyone over 30,” and the ‚Äė70s ‚ÄúQuestion Authority‚ÄĚ (ascribed to Timothy Leary, although Benjamin Franklin is quoted: “it is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority”).
‚ÄúLaw and Order‚ÄĚ seems little more than an episodic TV show to most young people these days, but these are the underpinnings of our society. Professor Gates should be fully aware that the police were there to protect and serve him and all residents of his community. President Obama, as our Commander In Chief, should be aware of the total ‚ÄúLaw and Order‚ÄĚ family he resides over. I would think the president has been fully schooled by now on proper police procedure, what it is like for a law enforcement officer to answer a ‚Äúpossible break-in is in progress‚ÄĚ call. What does a cop do when responding? Come to the door with weapon in hand? Or maybe just ring the doorbell assured that serious problems do not happen in this neighborhood? Such a dust-up over ‚Äúimage.‚ÄĚ
In trying to imagine Mr. Gates state of mind, I have to substitute an image of either a movie producer or director for Gates‚Äô academic stature (welcome to my world). Correctly or not, I can imagine him blustering at the cheeky effrontery of a uniformed officer not understanding his ‚ÄúDon‚Äôt you know who I think I am‚ÄĚ attitude (God, I hope I‚Äôll be able to work in this town again). Come on, why do we aspire to a higher status if it does us no good (good restaurant seating aside). As for Police Sgt. James Crowely, I learned my ‚Äúquestion authority‚ÄĚ lesson years earlier; it is a ‚Äúno win‚ÄĚ to get pissy with armed officers with an empty back seat. This matter was resolved before cameras (but after rehearsals), over beers anyway. Oh yes, did anyone check with MADD to see if alcohol added to this equation is advisable?
There was another ‚Äúpossible break-in‚ÄĚ assignment that didn‚Äôt end in an arrest, didn‚Äôt catch the president‚Äôs eye, and will not end in a ‚Äúbeers with buddies‚ÄĚ scenario. It was not in the power corridors of the North East. At 9:00pm, July 24, in southern California, Robert Rosas, a 30-year-old, married father of two young children, was killed while responding (alone) to a suspected border incursion near Campo, a rugged town, in southeastern San Diego County. Mr. Rosas was an officer of the U.S. Border Patrol. How sad that his call could not have ended simply with a cheeky ‚ÄúStupidly‚ÄĚ assessment. He was shot in the head and body multiple times by his own government-issued weapon and was dead by the time backup agents arrived.
I am mystified that I did not hear any direct comment from President Obama on the cold-blooded killing of Robert Rosas while securing our international border. Janet Napolitano got the call to show respect to the fallen DHS agent, making a short, yet effective statement.
There appears to be an inequity in how Border Patrol agents are treated. Take the cases of former agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean who were sentenced to 11 and 12 years respectively, for pursuing and ultimately wounding what was believed to be an armed illegal alien. After a couple of years in prison, President Bush pardoned the two on his last full day in office.
Although agents are issued weapons, it seems they are severely limited in their use. The DHS rules of engagement are something to the effect of only firing in self-defense. Thus Agent Rosas had his very own weapon taken from him in an apparent scuffle and was killed by it. Why not issue air powered paint-ball guns that they can at least shoot (marking their perpetrator). Do you think we could man our army in Afghanistan with that operational mind-set?
Ask any players in the Bosnian war (or any of the other regional wars) of their opinion of the U.N. Peacekeepers, or observers. You simply do not shoot at them and they can do nothing to stop any actions they saw. They were loved for always leaving behind those great Toyota 4x4s when they high-tailed it home.
If the White House ‚Äėmeet and greet‚Äô were to get a little awkward, may I suggest a little biographical filmic relief to accompany those beers: ‚ÄúA Man for All Seasons‚ÄĚ (6 Oscars, and one of my favorites, on DVD). As Mr. Gates is of “distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities‚ÄĚ and Mr. Crowely is a man of law and order, they will enjoy this treatise on human dignity, and indignity. President Obama might enjoy this film as well, as Sir Thomas More penned the tale ‚ÄúUtopia‚ÄĚ (the imaginary island or nation), Greek pun ou-topos [no place], describing political pacts of the imaginary island country.
And how about a shout out, Mr. President, to all the men and women of the combined Armed Forces, FBI, DHS, National Guard, Coast Guard, CIA, local police, and all others that put their life on the line for our ‚Äúlaw and order‚ÄĚ society on a daily basis?
Now, go see a good movie, and walk a mile in someone else‚Äôs shoes. Then, talk it over with a friend over a nice, cool beer.
¬© 2009 by Chris Holmes. Permission to copy will be given freely upon request.