Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Three cheers for Lucia Whalen

When the Lager Summit gets under way sometime around 6 p.m. ET tomorrow, Lucia Whalen won’t be there. The person most directly responsible for bringing President Obama, James Crowley and Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. together wasn’t invited. And she should have been.

It was Whalen’s 911 call to Cambridge police that began the incident in question, and it was widely thought that Whalen was the person whose description of the men breaking into 17 Ware Street included their race. Whalen’s description was seen, initially, as the first racially-tinged fuel on the firestorm of controversy that ensued, leading the nation to a new, rhetorically fractious debate about racial profiling.

But no. The transcript — the document at odds with much of the police report as filed by Cambridge police officer Crowley — reveals a 911 call that was, if anything, a model of how to phone in a suspicious activity: a reliance on actual observation; no leaps to conclusions; no assumptions. Lucia Whalen could be a hell of a reporter, if she ever wants to go that way.

The strong, quietly proud woman who stood before the media today is no one’s ideologue, no poster child for any cause, not a child of any revolt. This first-generation Portuguese-American spoke from the heart, with the truth and nothing but.

Check the video:

For close to two weeks now, we’ve heard great jabbering in the land about the Gates incident being “a teachable moment,” in reference to what we as a nation should have learned about race, assumptions and overreaction.

If you take away nothing from that video, hold on to one quote: “I am proud to have been raised by two loving parents who instilled in me values including: love one another, be kind to strangers and do not judge people based on race, ethnicity or any other feature other than their character.”

Guess what: In Lucia Whalen, we’ve finally found someone to teach that teachable moment.
Image credit: Lucia Whelan: Still from Fox News Channel.

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