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THE VICTORIANS HAD TO ACCEPT DARWIN. WE NEED TO ACCEPT THAT COPS KILL WHITE PEOPLE AS EASILY AS THEY KILL BLACK PEOPLE.
Otherwise, our conversation on race is deeply and perniciously fake.
The death of Daunte Wright in Minneapolis necessitates a new mental habit among us enlightened American souls.
We embrace assorted cognitive exercises as people with access to higher wisdom, such as understanding that a disadvantaged background can make it harder to excel, or that subtle bias can infect our thinking and actions.
Okay, but we need another one.
Whenever the national media reports on a black person killed by cops, we must ask ourselves “Would a white cop not have done that if the person were white?”
Because: we are taught that white (and even non-white) cops ice black people (usually men) out of racism. It’s possibly subconscious, but in the heat of the moment, they revert animalistically to their white supremacist assumption of black animality and pull that trigger.
This is why so many can only bristle at the idea that George Floyd did not die because he was black.
It’s why now, when the cop who killed Daunte Wright not only says she mistook her gun for a taser, and is even recorded as having done so, legions of people still insist on parsing it as evidence of “racism.” The idea is, I suppose, that she wouldn’t have made that mistake, would have been more prudent, if Daunte Wright was instead a white guy named Donald White.
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Here is why we need that mental exercise. Tony Timpa was quite white and was killed quite in the way that Floyd was, including it being recorded.
AND white people have been killed when cops mistook their guns for tasers. I wonder why no one ever heard about this one beyond one day in Philadelphia? (Wait – there will be objection that the shot didn’t actually kill this guy. But that’s random – it could have, easily.) There are many others -- there has been media coverage this week of cases where cops made the mistake that Officer Potter did towards Daunte Wright (where the person shot died). You can be quite sure that if their authors had found that the mistake only happened when the victims were black, we’d know by now.
This is a dog that didn’t bark and for a reason – that this week’s headlines have not been about how cops only mistake their guns for tasers when they are dealing with a black man is because … wait for it … they don’t! I suggest you take a little time and do a quick search on the cases listed by media articles like this. When the victim is black, it’s noted – big surprise – and quite often, the victim simply is not. By that I mean that often the victim was white. The journalists seeking to show that cops only mistake guns for tasers when they are confronted with a black person couldn’t find it and thus just write that officers have sometimes been “confused” while studiously leaving race out of it. Their head editors have made sure they did.
In this vein, what you didn’t hear this week is that cops killed a teen pointing a toy gun at them. Many will recall that cops killed (black) Tamir Rice for holding a toy gun, with this considered a prime demonstration that cops kill out of racist animus – why just a teen waggling a toy around? I mentioned this new case in my Twitter feed this week and have been bemused to see almost Talmudic exegesis arguing that the killing of Rice was “worse” because the white kid was actually aiming the gun at the cops and then picked up a knife.
But the answers to that are these.
1) The cops first shot the white kid when he aimed the gun but before he held up the knife, and if we rolled the tape again they could have killed him right when he held up the gun – the bullet they fired then only happened by chance not to kill him. (Say it’s wrong of me to reason that closely and I ask why you think so. Roll your eyes, click your tongue, and then explain. But you can’t.)
2) Evidence is likely forever unclear as to whether Rice seemed to be “reaching for” that gun when the cops came to him. Of course Rice did not deserve to die regardless, whatever he may have been doing in his pocket at that moment with his toy. But the iconic idea of Rice just looking off into the distance waving a toy at the sky is not the indisputable truth.
3) Most important – if this white kid were black, then even if the cops had shot him for aiming the toy right at them and then killed him when he raised the knife, we can be quite sure that the idea would be that the cops should have understood he was mentally disturbed – i.e. trying “suicide by cop” – and that they only killed him in seeing him as a “black body” rather than as a person.
Really – imagine him not named Ham but Harrison, and black. People would be in the streets, some of them looting, in protests against the black boy who aimed a toy gun at white officers and got killed for it – even if he then held up a knife. It’d be all about how officers need better training and such.
Here, some will just hate, growl, twist, seek to deny. I’m too “assimilated” to really understand, etc. But more than a few know that’s all, frankly, manure. They will be open to the following:
Cops unjustifiably kill white people all the time and in greater numbers than they kill black people.
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But let’s go back to what the enlightened take is. To wit: I am pointing out mere outliers. Surely the endless succession of black people killed by cops that we can mentally review is the main issue. Okay, now and then a white kid gets killed too. But isn’t pointing them out just what a “conservative” denialist about racism does in order to curry the favor of racist white people and make money speaking before them?
I love this notion, in that I turn down so very many offers to speak on race, including on Zoom, simply because I have other stuff to do, but I digress.
The problem is the sheer volume of the white cases. We just don’t hear about them. As I write, what about Hannah Williams? Or this hideous case? No, I’m not laboriously smoking these cases out when they are just weird exceptions to a general rule. They are the norm. It’s just that they don’t make national news. It really is that simple, and that sad, and that destructive to our national conversation about race.
Funny thing – nothing makes this clearer than the Washington Post database of cop murders. Just pour a cup of coffee and look at what it shows, month after month, year after year. As South Park’s Cartman would put it, “Just, like, just, just look at it. Just look at it.”
Yet, the enlightened take on the issue serenely sails along as if that database proves that cops ice black men regularly while white men only end up in their line of fire now and then by accident. The database reveals a serious problem with cops and murder, period, quite race-neutrally.
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To wit, cops, when things get tense, are quite okay with depriving white people of life. It can be hard to imagine this, because of how cop killings of black people has become essentially the keystone of the idea that blackness means oppression.
But true enlightenment, my friends, means opening yourself up to counterintuitive realities. I know – you may think that the counterintuitive reality we need to open up to is that black people are killed by cops because of their color. But that’s a little 1990 now. The cops are meaner to black people, no doubt. But not to the extent of casual murder. “Enlightened” America must open its mind, as “enlightened” Victorians opened up to Darwinism, to the simple fact that cops kill white people just as easily as they kill black people.
This is not conservative think-tank groupthink. This is truth, folks. If only smart Americans would open up to what is good news about black people’s condition. Black people do not need to walk around in fear that white cops will kill them because they are black. Yes, I meant that and will write it again. Black people do not need to walk around in fear that white cops will kill them because they are black.
“But, but … he just, he just …” NO! I “just” nothing. I say this because of the following simple fact:
Cops kill white people just as easily as they kill black people.
I know there’s a bit more we will hear.
But the disproportion … !
Yes, yes – but please see my post on Derek Chauvin on that issue, which in no way disproves anything I have written. Black people are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by cops, and exactly 2.5 times more likely to be poor, and data shows that poverty makes you more likely to encounter the cops, as even intuition confirms. This is why somewhat more black people are killed by cops than what our proportion in the population would predict.
Accounts of this issue that pretend people like me have not presented figures like this – i.e. most mainstream media discussions -- are out of court, even if their authors feel it’s their duty to pull people’s eyes away from “irreligious” ideas. Ignore the numbers and, even if you are writing about descendants of African slaves, you are simply plain wrong.
Reflect also: most people who take to the streets about cases like Daunte Wright are not thinking about the fact that black people are killed by cops 2.5 times more than their representation in the population would predict. They are protesting because all they see in the news is the black people killed, and have no way of imagining that whites are regularly killed in the same way and in much greater numbers.
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Once more. Every time the media broadcasts the murder by cop of a black person, ask yourself if it’s really true that a cop wouldn’t have done it to a white person – and then go to, for example, the Washington Post database and see cops doing just that.
And upon that, we will settle upon an honest national conversation about the cops as murdering people in race-neutral fashion. Or at least we should.