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Race, Class, Testosterone and Women

Race, Class, Testosterone and Women

Writer and lesbian guru Diana Cage ponders how Sgt. James Crowley, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and President Obama chitchatted about racism over a beer after the testosterone-fueled debacle that has the nation talking. Meanwhile, the woman who made the 911 call, Lucia Whalen, who bided her time while angry bloggers slapped her with labels of racism, was not invited to D.C. to do keg stands with the boys.

I’m sure you heard that yesterday the President had a beer with a white working class cop and a black Harvard professor and they all talked about important things. It’s cool; with the help of a simple fermented malt beverage racism in America has ended. Thanks everybody.

You know how we could have avoided all this pretend-friendly, photo-op beer drinking in the first place? By taking the testosterone out of the original event. While the Gates arrest certainly smacks of racism and classism, those two isms were stoked by testosterone-fueled ego clashes. I’m not the President so I can say this without repercussion: the cops acted stupidly. Crowley, especially, acted like a moron. He acted like a douchebag club bouncer.

I don’t care how confrontational, loud or disorderly Henry Louis Gates Jr. was that afternoon; he’s an old man who walks with a cane. He’s not a robber. He wasn’t carrying a weapon, or even any tools. He was able to show identification to the cops and prove he was in his own home. Sergeant Crowley had an ego flare-up. He didn’t like some guy yelling at him. And he probably did feel a little outclassed by a Cambridge dwelling Harvard professor so he flexed his cop muscles. That’s what insecure men do when they feel threatened.

A little analytical reasoning might have shut this thing down before it even got started. Ego flare-ups, however, shut down any capacity to reason. Testosterone turned what should have been a minor misunderstanding into a problem so ridiculous the President of the United States had to have everyone over for a beer.

Have you noticed that the only person acting decently and not saying anything to embarrass herself is Lucia Whalen, the woman responsible for the original call to 911?

Whalen was attacked in the media and denounced as a racist by the entire Internet. Everyone was running their mouths and typing away on their blogs about the “privileged white lady” calling the cops because there were a couple of black guys in her neighborhood. I jumped all over it myself. It sounded about right to me. Some hysterical woman who has watched too much Fox news made a crazy call to 911, happens all the time, right?

But it turns out Whalen did and said none of the things she was accused of. She was unfairly vilified and portrayed as a racist, and she could have easily thrown a giant fit about it. But instead she kept quiet until the 911 tapes were released and she could defend herself with empirical proof that backed up her story.

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Like Crowley, like Gates, Whalen also felt afraid and threatened.  But she didn’t go mouthing off and starting fights. She didn’t make any accusations. She didn’t call anyone names or insult their actions. She kept it all together until she had something useful to say and then she held a calm, meaningful press conference to clear her name. Whalen played a significant role in this mess but no one seems to be asking her anything. Probably because the things she says aren’t inflammatory enough so no one cares.

Whalen’s side of the story would certainly have been useful during the beer summit. She might have even been able to clear up some discrepancies in Crowley’s report.  I’ve noticed she didn’t get invited to the keg party at the White House though.

At Whalen’s press conference her attorney, Wendy Murphy, said, "The three highly trained guys who reacted badly are getting together for a beer," she said.  "But the one person whose actions have been exemplary will be at work tomorrow in Cambridge." And she has a point.


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Diana Cage