President Barack Obama has now invited both Professor Henry Gates and Sergeant James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department to the White House "for a beer." One can only imagine what an orgy of awkwardness this will be.
Obama: Officer Crowley, I'm so glad you could join us.
Crowley: Thank you Mr. President. Yeah, I been lookin' forward to this. I mean, it's just gonna be the three of us knockin' down some suds and enjoyin' the playoffs, right? No political bull?
Obama: Well, Sergeant Crowley, I did want the opportunity to make clear, that in my choice of words, I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or you specifically --
Crowley: Impression?! C'mon, Mr. President, with all due respect, you didn't just give that impression, you maligned me, pure and simple. You said I acted "stupidly" -- now that's pretty malignant in my book.
Obama: Well, I could have calibrated those words differently.
Crowley: What's my .38 calibrate Magnum got to do with this?
Gates: It is a weapon which is used to oppress the African-American community, that's what it has to do with this.
Crowley: Hey, you're the one who turned this into a big racial incident. I was just responding to a call from that woman who works for Harvard Magazine about a break in.
Gates: And then, just because I'm a black man, you arrested me.
Crowley: Officer Leon Lashley was right there with me, he happens to be black, and he agreed you shoulda been arrested. You think he was profilin'?
Gates: The poor man has undoubtedly been brainwashed. And he probably feels he'd lose his job if he didn't say that.
Crowley: You were screamin' at me like a hysterical woman! Only decision I figured I'd have to make, whether to run you down to the station or take you direct to the psych ward.
Gates: I highly resent that implication --
Crowley: Hey, you start screamin' again, I'll arrest you right here and now. I brought the cuffs just in case.
Gates: You have no jurisdiction here, you racist! I'll talk to your mama outside!
Obama: Gentlemen, gentlemen, please, we're here to heal, not to cause more rifts. The only reason I arranged this get together in the first place was so I could burnish my image as a healer, you know, as the post-racial President. You guys need to cooperate a little more, help me out a little. Now Officer Crowley, I'm fascinated by the fact that you teach a course in racial profiling. What exactly do you teach the junior officers?
Crowley: I teach 'em that they can't be suspicious of people just on the basis of race, that they have to look for other cues, you know, gang insignia, suspicious behavior, loitering for no reason, that sort of thing.
Gates: Yes, but first and foremost, you teach them that they should arrest someone just because he's a black man in America. A black man should be rousted just for the color of his skin, is that not so Officer Crowley!
Crowley: Yep, you know how it is around Harvard Square, we're always turnin' the fire hoses on the black professors there.
Obama: Sergeant Crowley, you have to understand, black people do have a history of being harassed by the police, so maybe we're a little sensitive to what we perceive as racial profiling.
Crowley: Hey, if the police are so inclined to be racist, how come we don't roust old black women? It's 'cause they don't commit crimes. Every cop ever worked a beat in a big city knows it's the young black men you gotta watch out for. Ordinarily, I wouldn't give a wimpy old geezer like Gates a second look. Now you, on the other hand.....Hey, you ever do anything illegal? Like smoke crack?
Obama: Uh....let's change the subject. Let's think positively. What have we gained from this episode?
Gates: I must admit, I think this little incident is going to absolutely guarantee funding for my PBS documentary.
Crowley: And I can't believe what a hero I am down at the station house these days. Hell, I'll probably make lieutenant within a year.
Obama: See? It's been great for everybody. We've had a real meeting of the minds here, this has been very productive. Now shake, boys.
[They reluctantly shake hands.]
Obama: It even worked out for me -- I got my teachable moment. And the lesson I get to impart to America is this: the next time you see a black man trying to break into a house, relax -- it's probably just a Harvard professor trying to get his own door unjammed.
Nah. I doubt they'll be that honest with each other.