Thursday, July 30, 2009

What Sgt. James Crowley Could Learn From "Atlas Shrugged's" Hank Rearden, by Erika Holzer

When the firestorm over Sgt. James Crowley’s arrest of Louis Gates first broke and I heard the arresting officer being interviewed on Fox News, I wanted to cheer.

Crowley was every honest person’s personification of a righteous man.

When Gates went public with ugly racist and “rogue cop” accusations about Crowley’s actions, he didn’t count on the fact that Crowley’s by-the-book conduct had been backed up—not only by eyewitness accounts from his partner (who happened to be black) as well as from a passer-by—but by a tape recording that contradicted Gates’ slanted version of what had transpired.

Crowley was exonerated by hard evidence. Not to mention by his sterling professional reputation and his unimpeachable 5-year record of training fellow policemen in the matter of racial profiling. (He’d been singled out by a black police lieutenant for the job.)

Nonetheless he was defamed by Gate’s buddy, President Barack Obama, who—admitting he didn’t have all the facts—berated Crowley for acting “stupidly.”

Obama then went on to use the Crowley-Gates incident as a platform for, in columnist David Limbaugh’s words “. . . a mini-diatribe about the ‘long history’ of racial profiling by American cops.” (“A Teachable Moment Indeed,” Town Hall, July 28, 2009)

Buoyed by this shoot-from-the-hip presidential support, Gates threatened to sue. He demanded an apology.

But Crowley wasn’t about to cave to pressure from on high. No apology would be forthcoming, I heard him tell a reporter, and Crowley went on to explain why. The reporter, at first politely curious, sounded increasingly sympathetic as he tuned into Crowley’s calm, resolute sense of injustice.

It wasn’t until the police union rightly complained about the potential damage done to law enforcement nationwide, until the Cambridge P.D who knew and worked with Crowley rose as one to his defense, and until thousands of supportive and outraged cops from around the country weighed into the brouhaha that Obama and his advisors decided he had better hold a press conference to defuse a situation that was sticking to him like flypaper,

Time to apologize to the innocent policeman he had defamed? To lay the blame at the feet of the guilty party, Louis Gates? To admit that the President of the United States had no business interjecting himself into local matters about which he lacks the necessary expertise, let alone the facts?

Not possible, on all counts. Barack Obama cannot step out of character.

As David Limbaugh wrote:

“[Obama] held a news conference, not to apologize, but to justify himself.
* * * [He used] pure weasel words when a simple, heartfelt apology would have sufficed * * * Next he offered his patronizing assessment that both men probably overreacted and that cooler heads should have prevailed. * * * [W]hy would [Obama] continue . . . to comment on the facts? Obviously because he wanted to exploit this incident as a ‘teachable moment’ on race relations, whether or not the facts fit the template.”

Obama’s gambit didn’t end with the press conference. Either the President phoned Crowley—according to an AP report today out of Washington—and “invited both men over for a beer, to be served at a picnic table near the Oval Office” (weather permitting), or Crowley invited himself to the White House for a beer-fest (yesterday’s AP version about who initiated what).

Either way, as of this writing, it looks as if James Crowley clinked beer glasses with the President and his crony, Louis Gates, with the only disagreement at the picnic table being the merits of Blue Moon over Red Stripe or Bud Lite.

So what does this Washington adventure tell us about Sgt. James Crowley, the wronged party who never received an apology? The righteous victim in this charade who traveled from Cambridge to Washington for a beer with his two nemeses?

It tells us that either Sgt. Crowley never read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, or, if he did, that he never understood the meaning of a cardinal moral/political principle that Rand superbly dramatized through one of her major characters.

That principle is called “the sanction of the victim.”

“There comes a point in the defeat of any man of virtue,” Rand wrote through the voice of the novel’s protagonist hero, John Galt, “when his own consent is needed for evil to win—and that no manner of injury done to him by others can succeed if he chooses to withhold his consent.”

Rand’s heroic character who, for much of the novel, struggles with the weight of self-accepted victimhood, Hank Rearden, is liberated only when he identifies that principle and acts on it—as James Crowley should have, by boycotting Obama’s little getogether.

Pick up Atlas Shrugged, Sgt. Crowley. It will not only enlighten. It will liberate you.

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Lawyer-turned-novelist Erika Holzer is the author of Double Crossing and Eye for an Eye (a Paramount motion picture starring Kiefer Sutherland and Sally Field). Her most recent book is Ayn Rand: My Fiction-Writing Teacher and she co-authored with her husband, Henry Mark Holzer, the non-fiction books "Aid and Comfort": Jane Fonda in North Vietnam and Fake Warriors. Her website is www.erikaholzer.com and she blogs at www.erikaholzer.blogspot.com.