If there’s a silver lining to the otherwise cloudy controversy surrounding the arrest of The Root's editor-in-chief, Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr., it’s that when Gates and Crowley meet President Barack Obama at the White House for a beer Thursday, it’ll be the ultimate race-relations role reversal.
Instead of a black emissary like Booker T. Washington visiting Teddy Roosevelt’s White House to burnish the president’s civil rights credentials and represent “the race,” this time around Crowley puts his best foot forward for his race (cops) while two of America’s most esteemed—and decidedly un-street—men of color, look to him for a little street cred.
Now that’s what you call progress.
And to achieve this minor miracle of modern-day race relations apparently all they’ll need are a couple of pints of beer. As those guys from the Guinness TV ads would say: “Brilliant!”
If Crowley has a sense of humor, he’ll bring Gates a six pack of Stone Brewing’s Arrogant Bastard Ale with a bow tied around it. Crowley doesn’t sound like much of a racist, but he at least has to ‘fess up: The real beef against Gates was “contempt of cop,” not the made-up “disorderly conduct.”
Dropping the charges wasn’t a favor to Gates, though—it was a favor to the police. They weren’t equipped to handle a black Harvard prof in county lockup who, in the words of Forrest Gump, is “famouser even than Captain Kangaroo.” They weren’t ready for seminars on D block, book signings for fellow inmates or Gates walking the yard with Cutty, Red and Brother Baines in an orange jumpsuit, sporting a giant, hand-carved wooden ankh around his neck inscribed with the words “Big A** Ankh.”
If Gates has a sense of humor, he’ll bring a six pack of Rogue Brutal Bitter Ale in honor of his favorite “rogue” policeman. Sure, he had every right to fuss Crowley out in his own home, but Skip might also want to be that dude—every crew has one—the guy you hate to roll with to the club because you know you might have to throw fists on a humbug.
Obama must have bumped his head and forgotten who he was talking to because there’s nothing stupider than a black man calling cops stupid, even if the cops are, in fact, stupid.
Americans like their presidents stupid and their black presidents docile. He knows better.
Obama’s great-great-great grandfather hailed from Moneygall, while Gates and Crowley trace their lineage to Niall of the Nine Hostages—they should try to think of their original introduction at Gates’ front door as sort of an informal family reunion.
The Photo Op
Whatever they do, at all costs, Obama, Gates and Crowley must avoid taking any official photos that in any way resemble the infamous portrait of Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin shaking hands while Jimmy Carter smiles like a proud parent at a graduation from anger management academy. A few man-hugs are acceptable, but no high fives, please.
The Guest List
Gates reportedly drinks Beck’s—professor-speak for “Garçon, bring me a Cabernet, immediately.” Crowley likes Blue Moon—a girl beer. And Obama drinks Budweiser—the beer equivalent of wearing a flag pin. It’s apparent that these guys aren’t actually beer drinkers, so if Obama doesn’t want this to be a limp sausage fest, he needs some tapas, a lady DJ, a later start, a keg of Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre and a few more guests:
Ari Emanuel—the peacemaker—real-life brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and the model for Entourage super-agent Ari Gold: "Let's hug it out, b****!"
Tina Fey—the comic relief—because there’s nothing that says “you need to get over yourself” like a quick Sarah Palin impression.
Taraji P. Henson—the hottie—just to see her in that BET Awards dress one more time.
Don’t forget the “Birthers”—no one needs a cold beer more than those crazy MF’ers.
And while the nation cries over spilled beer, it would behoove Obama to call for a moment of silence so he, Gates, Crowley and the rest of us can pour one out for Sean Bell, Shem Walker, Neda Agha Soltan and every other fatal victim of police brutality.
Then hopefully with that, after the White House keg is tapped, everyone’s hugged it out and the controversy’s ground down to a cable-news nub, Obama can finally put this all to rest and cry the immortal cry of bartenders the world over—the words he’s wanted to say to Gates, Crowley and the Washington press corps for more than a week: Last call. You don't have to go home, but you have to get the hell up out of here.
David Swerdlick is a regular contributor to The Root. Follow him on Twitter.
David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.