If we could all just get together and have a cold one, perhaps all our problems would be solved. At least that’s what President Obama seems to be hoping in what’s now known as the “Beer Summit.”
The so-called Beer Summit took place Thursday afternoon, and included Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley. The meeting was to address the now-famous incident in which Crowley arrested Gates for “disorderly conduct” when investigating a possible burglary at Gates’ house. The charges against Gates were eventually dropped.
But, too little too late.
The episode fueled fires of racial profiling and soon became of National importance when Obama declared that the police “acted stupidly” in a primetime news conference.
So . . . to mend fences, Obama invited the men to get together to simply “listen to each other.” Apparently he thought a cold, frosty mug of beer might make things just a little less tense.
And that’s when the fun began, and the media fire was set with the unprecedented Beer Summit.
Obama seemed curious as to why the fuss, and denied that it was a beer summit but rather ” three folks having a drink at the end of the day, and hopefully giving people an opportunity to listen to each other.”
Presidential historian, Julian E. Zelizer, indicated that he’s not a fan of such a meeting, and that “It turns this into a media moment, rather than a serious moment.”
Zelizer goes on to add that while it was an opportunity to get some issues out on the table in regards to race relations and racial profiling, “part of it was about him [Obama], rather than the situation. This is a way for him to quasi-apologize for what he said.”
All for Nothing
Unfortunately, it seems the public won’t see much come of the hyped-up event. While the photos of the President, Gates and Crowley will likely be spread wide and far, much of the three’s interaction was kept in private. In fact, the whole thing lasted approximately one minute.
One can only hope that the beer summit truly is an attempt at furthering the race relations in this country and that something positive will come of it.
“If this is all we see from the president, there will be some people that will be disappointed” Zelizer comments. “The danger of a hearts-and-minds approach is it never gets to the underlying problem. If there’s no policy on the table—no serious proposal on the table—it’s hard to see how these discussions can really result in long-term change.”