Talking with a Democrat about 'systemic racism'
By Mark Alexander
Last month a black Minneapolis man with a known criminal record died under the knee of a white police officer in what, at best, was gross negligence. At worst, that negligence may have reflected a bad cop's discriminatory racial predisposition and thereby contributed to the circumstances of George Floyd's death.
As a former uniformed police officer, I am very reluctant to accept without substantial review the mainstream media's ad-revenue-driven race bait on a racially charged case. This race issue was already primed by the shooting death of a black man in Georgia by two white men.
Upon viewing the video of Mr. Floyd's death, I knew I didn't need to see any additional body-cam recordings to determine his death was wrongful. He was handcuffed, there were three other officers (of various races) present, and additional officers were on the way. Floyd appeared compliant, posed no further threat to the officers or bystanders, and indicated he was distressed and having trouble breathing.
His death was unjust. The four officers at the scene have been arrested and charged and, ironically, will be prosecuted by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who himself has a long history of provoking racial hatred as an acolyte of fellow Islamist Louis Farrakhan and other black-supremacist haters.
In the 16 days since Floyd died, the unmitigated violence that followed in Minneapolis and then nationwide, organized in large part by white anarchist opportunists, has resulted in the unjust death of 17 more people. An estimated 12,000 "protesters" have been arrested for violent assaults and looting, resulting in thousands of injuries and hundreds of millions of dollars in damages — mostly in urban centers — and forever closing many minority-owned businesses and others serving those communities.
Nationwide, a very generous estimate of the number of peaceful protesters is about two million. That means about 330 million of your fellow Americans did not participate, even with lockdown fever and 13% unemployment. However, that doesn't mean most of us weren't deeply offended by the injustice of Floyd's death — and, in turn, the violence being perpetrated in his name. Even leftist Minnesota Governor Tim Walz declared, after a few days of those "protests" had devolved into violence, "The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd. It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear, and disrupting our great cities."
As for these disruptors, there are three primary categories into which I group those who are always ready to act on actual or perceived instances of "social injustice."
First are the Democrat Party politicians and their Leftmedia outlets that use every instance of injustice to promote division among their constituencies. Their two favorite lures are gender and race. Most elected Demos know the callous political calculus of these issues and play the game well, even if it results in the perennial destruction of their urban centers.
The second group is composed of the "BLM" (Burn-Loot-Murder) mobs of leftists that shower destruction and violence mostly on their own neighborhoods. Typically, the looting and violence occurs organically, but increasingly there are cadres of anarchist agitators adding combustible fuel to the BLM fires.
The third group consists of primarily Democrat constituents who form the massively disruptive but peaceful protest marches. That group is largely motivated by Demo politicos who cultivate their constituents to be "useful idiots" — especially their largest voter bloc, females, whom they treat like emotionally incontinent children. The manifestation of that emotional incontinence is commonly called "Trump Derangement Syndrome" and "toxic femininity."
This latter group is typically well-meaning, mostly good, and responsible people who want to express their strong feelings about things that they believe are unfair or unjust. George Floyd's death was, in fact, both. While sometimes the expression of those feelings is substantive, other times it amounts to mere virtue signaling.
The most thematic mantra that unites and incites the above groups is the sweeping generalization of "systemic racism," a term implying both individual and institutional racism. Any incident can become fodder to claim "systemic racism," but this is a false dilemma — a violent and costly "straw man" fomented by a political agenda. Racism certainly exists, but it simply isn't baked into every aspect of our existence as Americans.
So, how do we resolve the great divide between conservatives and liberals when discussing racially charged incidents? Understanding the origin of that divide is instructive — it often stems from a cognitive versus emotive interpretation of events.
Cognitive processors sometimes fail to convey an empathic understanding of an issue, while emotive processors tend to be overwhelmed with empathic feelings about it. The real disconnect starts when emotive interpretation neglects the facts, and cognitive understanding fails to recognize the feelings. In debate, this constitutes the proverbial mix of oil and water — which are quick to separate.
Ask liberals about something they are passionate about, and they most often predicate their response with, "Because I feel..." Ask conservatives about something they are passionate about, and they most often predicate their response with, "Because I think..."
To better understand the context for the cognitive and emotive disconnect, here is an illustration of an online conversation with a well-educated young woman who's been steeped in liberalism in her home, which is in one of the East Coast's most liberal cities and states.
That conversation began when she took strong exception to a case I made tying racially charged police-involved confrontations with generational Democrat social policies that make such confrontations inevitable.
Here's how that conversation exposed the cognitive/emotive disconnect...
She: "The sheer number of unarmed black people who are killed by police as compared to other groups reveals police brutality for what it is: systemic racism. You have to look at the systemic patterns of policing and how they disproportionately result in the deaths of BLACK people — DECADES of oppression and violence against black people in this country that has gone unanswered and largely been met with silence by the majority of white people."
Me: "Neither I nor anyone I know would tolerate any degree of racial discrimination, especially from those sworn to uphold the law. But I am not inclined to cast broad and inaccurate generalizations about law enforcement based on the death of Floyd or the gross negligence of the officer(s) involved. On the subject of 'violence against black people,' do you know how many black men were murdered by other black men in your city the same weekend Floyd was killed? Do you know any one of their names?"
She: "Referring to intercommunal crime is completely off-topic. Not addressing systemic racism within our country's systems is being part of the problem. I just wanted to express my views because I feel that as white folks, our main job right now is to support communities of color that are victims of a system that has been hurting them for decades."
Me: "I appreciate your perspective, though you avoided my question. In fact there were seven black people murdered by other black people in your city the weekend of George Floyd's death. You can't name any one of them because those deaths are not suitable fodder for the Democrats' narrative and agenda. But it is the Demos' statist policies that have created impoverished urban centers that are irrevocably linked to conflicts between citizens in those communities and law enforcement. Apparently, those black lives don't matter."
She: "The two are unrelated."
Me: "Well, can you name the elderly white couple from your small home state who were murdered by a black assailant while visiting their son's gravesite in a veteran's cemetery two weeks before Mr. Floyd's death?"
She: "Again, unrelated."
Me: "Allow me this observation: The 'systemic racism' canard is a rhetorical caricature of the reality those of us who are or have been in law enforcement experience in service to our communities and our nation. There are people who hold racist views on ALL sides, and there is no room for it anywhere. That is especially true among the ranks of those charged with upholding the law — bad cops need to be purged. But as Heather Mac Donald's recent research makes clear, there is no 'systemic racism' in our system of justice and no epidemic of racist police shootings."
She: "If you truly see systemic racism as a rhetorical caricature, then I don't know how to have a meaningful conversation with you. It is so blatant."
Me: "To have a 'meaningful conversation' requires having a full conversation, not just half of it — unless you want to perpetuate for the next 50 years the policy failures of the so-called 'Great Society' over the last 50 years."
The bottom line here is that there is a disconnect between strong and legitimate feelings and the need for a larger conversation considering factual data if we are to achieve some mutually agreed upon solutions. Making that objective more difficult, emotive/empathic processors are often blinded to the proposition that the policies they embrace because it feels right actually exacerbate the conditions that they feel so strongly about resolving.
Given a lifetime of observing this obstruction, Thomas Sowell, senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, declared flatly: "Emotions neither prove nor disprove facts. There was a time when any rational adult understood this."
In a related observation, Ronald Reagan said, "The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so."
The young woman in the previous conversation is certainly not ignorant. I admire her and, in fact, had we been able to converse in person, we might have reached a closer understanding, a bridge between the fact that social policies creating and maintaining impoverished urban centers are irrevocably linked to a higher rate of interactions with police.
But as Joe Biden said, "We choose truth over facts." In other words, what feels like the truth takes precedent over the facts.
For the record, nowhere is the cognitive/emotive breakdown more evident than in the current absurd movement to "Defund the Police." This movement is all about strong feelings and devoid of material facts — most notably that a lack of law enforcement will hit minority communities hardest. If black lives really mattered, there would be no need for such pandering discussion.
In fact, Heather Mac Donald has thoroughly documented the racial disparity of interracial crimes. According to the latest Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of criminal victimization (2018), Mac Donald notes: "There were 593,598 interracial violent victimizations ... between blacks and whites last year, including white-on-black and black-on-white attacks. Blacks committed 537,204 of those interracial felonies, or 90 percent, and whites committed 56,394 of them, or less than 10 percent."
Mac Donald adds, "That ratio is becoming more skewed, despite the Democrat claim of Trump-inspired white violence. In 2012-13, blacks committed 85 percent of all interracial victimizations between blacks and whites; whites committed 15 percent. From 2015 to 2018, the total number of white victims and the incidence of white victimization have grown as well." Mac Donald concludes: "Blacks are also overrepresented among perpetrators of hate crimes — by 50 percent — according to the most recent Justice Department data from 2017; whites are underrepresented by 24 percent. This is particularly true for anti-gay and anti-Semitic hate crimes."
Note that black Americans represent 13% of our population but perpetrate 90% of violent interracial crimes. And their rate of intra-racial murder is obscene. (Don't expect to hear a single objection about either of those issues from Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, or Chuck Schumer.)
Unfortunately, this is the data-driven reason why police officers of any race often approach black suspects with a greater sense of caution — if they want to survive their shift.
Reagan also wisely observed, "We must reject the idea that every time a law is broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions."
Emotive responses tend to diminish that accountability, but we should strive to bridge the emotive/cognitive gap.
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.