Gates proved how small a man he is

Now that the beer summit is a part of history, let's look at what was accomplished by the foregoing set of events that should have never been more than a routine police assignment. A white police officer, along with the entire Cambridge, Massachusetts PD, was maligned by a black Harvard professor and a black President of the United States. A white woman neighbor of the professor, who called the police to report a possible burglary, publicly has been termed a racist and has been harassed to the point of breaking down in tears during a press conference.

Professor Gates has plenty of publicity to help him with his upcoming documentary on race relations in America and President Obama had a major photo op in an attempt to spin his shocking comments into something positive. There was no handshake between the cop and the professor; no apology from the president or the professor; and there was no chance for the Press to interview the parties together. The only words spoken publicly after the beer fest were from Sgt. Crowley, who said: "We have agreed to disagree."

Well, wasn't that the state of affairs before they met over a couple of brews? Unless there were some clandestine plans made to improve race relations in the future, this was a waste of time. Evidently, Obama, the man who was going to bring us together, didn't even have enough influence with his buddy Gates to convince him to press the flesh with his arresting officer. And, speaking of that arrest for disorderly conduct, why has so little been said about the charges being dropped?

If there was ever a case in which political influence wiped its feet on the law, this was it. Without any apparent debate on the legality of the arrest, or the legitimacy of the arresting officer's authority to effect same, the charge seems to have simply vanished. In the midst of all the hoopla over the President's stupid comment, the fact that someone with political power just proved to the world that he is above the law, seems to have been lost. Who pulled the strings for Gates and circumvented the laws of the state of Massachusetts? Did Gates deserve a get out of jail card because he has friends in high places? What does it say about justice in America if a duly constituted police officer, vested with the authority to enforce the law, can have his actions voided by powerful friends of the defendant?

Perhaps I'm old fashioned, but I believe that the law should apply equally to everyone. Sergeant Crowley made a bona fide arrest of a man whose actions fit the offense of disorderly conduct. No, it's not a felony and it's not worthy of lengthy incarceration. However, it is worthy of an arraignment, a plea, a trial and a judgment by a court; not by the Cambridge Mayor or the Massachusetts Governor. I'd like to examine the arrest record for disorderly conduct charges in the state to determine if other defendants had their charges mysteriously dropped. Moreover, what happens if the next person arrested on similar charges demands the same privileges? Does he have to be a Harvard professor and buddy of the Chief Executive in order to be treated similarly? Obama said he wanted this to be a "teachable moment." I submit that it has been. It has taught us that you can get away with anything if you know the right people.

If Professor Gates were a decent and honorable man, he would have acknowledged that he lost control because he was tired and irritable after arriving home from a long trip and realized that he had lost the keys to his house. He could have shown some humility by confessing that he took his frustration out on the cop, who, he realized later, was only doing his job. In the eyes of the world, he would have emerged as a man big enough to admit a mistake in judgment. Moreover, he could have actually helped his Oval Office friend to achieve a teachable moment by saying something to the effect that people shouldn't react to the police the way he did.

Instead, he attended this pathetic excuse for a substantive caucus and continued to prove that he's an elitist who would probably behave the same way if it happened again. I only hope that this incident will not dissuade officers from doing their job as capably as Sgt. Crowley did his. The job is tough enough and dangerous enough without letting people like Gates cause cops to hesitate just long enough to get themselves killed.

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas.  Email Bob.