These past few weeks have been a horrific era of American politics.
After the death of George Floyd resulted in millions across the country protesting police brutality, the White House has done its best to whip the country into a frenzy.
A President who began his term calling for a wall to protect Americans from outside threats is ending his term bunkered behind walls erected to protect him from Americans.
You may be exhausted, tired, and frustrated by the current rhetoric flying around.
I’d like to write this post in a mild-mannered way - not to inflame, not to accuse, not to attack.
This post will be a calm rendition of my thoughts. That is by design.
I am hoping to reach people who are not already moved by the protests and bridge the gap. If my feelings seem lukewarm or understated, this is why.
George Floyd was executed on camera by a white officer.
Breonna Taylor was murdered in her home while she slept in bed.
On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American EMT, was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers who forced entry into her apartment under the authority of a "no-knock" search warrant.
Gunfire was exchanged between Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, and LMPD officers. Walker said he believed that the officers were intruders. The LMPD officers fired over twenty shots. Breonna Taylor was shot eight times and killed.
The officers were searching for two people who were already in police custody.
Ahmaud Arbery was tracked down and murdered by a white father and son who armed themselves and pursued him after spotting the 25-year-old black man running in their neighborhood. They had a “gut feeling” that Mr. Arbery had committed a crime.
Bryan told police Travis McMichael said "f***ing n***er" after three blasts from his shotgun left Arbery dead in the street. Body camera footage also showed a Confederate flag sticker on the toolbox of McMichael's truck.
Since Jan. 1, 2015, 1,252 black people have been shot and killed by police, according to The Washington Post's database tracking police shootings; that doesn't even include those who died in police custody or were killed using other methods.
You may also remember cases like Tamir Rice, a twelve year old boy, shot and killed while playing with a toy gun in a park.
Trayvon Martin, who was chased down and killed in a similar manner to Ahmaud Arbery.
Eric Garner, who also told police “I can’t breathe” as they murdered him.
Philando Castile, who was murdered as he reached for his wallet.
After being asked for his license and registration, Castile told Officer Yanez that he had a firearm (Castile was licensed to carry) to which Yanez replied, "Don't reach for it then", and Castile said "I'm, I, I was reaching for..." Yanez said "Don't pull it out", Castile replied "I'm not pulling it out", and Reynolds said "He's not..."
Yanez repeated "Don't pull it out" and then shot at Castile at close range seven times, hitting him five times.
Castile had been pulled over because (stop me if you’ve heard this before): “The two occupants just look like people that were involved in a robbery. The driver looks more like one of our suspects, just because of the wide-set nose. I couldn’t get a good look at the passenger.”
Atatiana Jefferson was murdered in her home by an officer ostensibly sent to check on her.
Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, a 28-year-old woman, was fatally shot in her home by a police officer.
Police arrived at her home after a neighbor called a non-emergency number, stating that Jefferson's front door was open. Police body camera footage showed that when she came to her window to observe police outside her home, Officer Aaron Dean shot through it and killed her.
People are angry. People are disgusted. People have had enough.
A brief, non-comprehensive list of notable civil rights movements:
Each of these movements had a massive number of contemporary detractors. They all faced opposition. And crucially, they have always (years later) been recognized as necessary and just.
In the case of the Civil War, we call them traitors, and the U.S. is finally removing statues of those who participated on the pro-slavery side.
In the case of segregation, we look back with dismay at images of police officers blasting protestors with firehoses. We speak shamefully of our segregated past and those who supported it.
In the case of women’s and LGTBQ+ rights, we look at those who were opposed and shame them for their backwards, sexist, prejudiced beliefs.
There is not a case of civil rights movements where we, as a society, look back and say “You know what? That was a bad idea, we really shouldn’t have given those people equal rights.”
No, it’s not.
Just like the Civil Rights Era, a group of people is protesting that they are being systemically discriminated against.
Just like the Civil Rights Era, the police apparatus of the State has been mobilized in order to quell dissent.
Just like the Civil Rights Era, citizens are divided on whether that group of people is really being discriminated against.
And just like the Civil Rights Era, those who are currently opposed to the current protests will be viewed as bigots, racists, and backwards.
Which side of history will you fall on? Will you be an enabler of racism, or will you be against it?
It is a very simple choice.
There are a great deal of red herrings thrown about in order to derail the conversation.
It has been enormously depressing to watch family, friends, certain news outlets, and certain Presidents do everything they can to avoid addressing the systemic issues being protested.
Here are some brief responses to common ones I have seen.
Yes, some violence has occurred during these protests. When you have millions of people angry and frustrated, there will be some regrettable incidents.
I hope that your opposition to violence during protests is at least ideologically consistent. This country tracks its origins to an “unlawful” and “violent” assembly. It is called the “Boston Massacre.”
We do not look kindly at the enforcers of “law and order” at that time. In fact, we typically use violence committed against protestors as an example of the tyrannical overreach of government.
The violence of the Boston Massacre laid the groundwork for the narrative of just and righteous rebellion. Centuries later, civil rights leaders are tapping into that same American spirit.
It was during the early to mid 1960s that the modern civil rights movement became the organized force that would topple Jim Crow.
These protests created a crisis because they disrupted social order and created an atmosphere that was not conducive to business and commerce in the South. They often caused white officials to use violence in their efforts to defeat the movement.
The Birmingham and Selma confrontations generated the leverage that led to the overthrow of the formal Jim Crow order. In both instances, the movement was able to generate huge protest demonstrations utilizing an array of disruptive tactics that caused social order to collapse.
The authorities in each locale responded with brutal violence that was captured by national and international media.
A RETROSPECTIVE ON THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT: Political and Intellectual Landmarks
Yes, looting has occurred. Is damage to property the greatest concern in the world right now? No.
The problem is this: There are very few people in the world that will disagree with you when you say “hey, looting and violence is wrong.”
But what has become obvious is that many of you are using those things as an excuse to terminate your thoughts. You drop a pithy line about how peaceful protest is acceptable, but oh gosh, did you hear they set cars on fire?
This faux-alarmist attitude is not new. After all, Dr. King’s opponents frequently expressed the same concern.
Protesters who marched in the streets of America's most staunchly racist cities and towns were attacked by police dogs, their clothing was tattered by high-pressure fire hoses, and their lives were taken by police officers' bullets. Alarmed by what they saw, eight liberal, white clergymen wrote a public statement in 1963, calling King's movement foolish and counterproductive.
They sympathized with his cause but said his actions were too aggressive, too disruptive and drove people to violent uprising.
The clergymen urged black Americans to reject King's leadership and adopt peaceful means to achieve racial equality. King's "nonviolent" movement, they said, was anything but.
Some of your leaders and media figureheads are ardent cheerleaders of police violence. Our President advocates treating criminals roughly, smears protestors as terrorists and anarchists, and publicly threatens to deploy the military on his own citizens.
When a 75 year old was shoved to the ground and knocked unconscious by Buffalo police, Mr. Trump asserted, without evidence, that he may have been an Antifa operative.
Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2020
The President of the United States spends his time spreading unproven and laughable conspiracy theories on Twitter. He staunchly supports the police force in America even as his citizenry revolts against it.
In the 1800’s, slaves often killed their owners in order to escape. If you were alive at that time, would you hear that news and express that violence is not the answer?
Here is a list of riots that occurred during the Civil Rights Era of 1955-73. It is a long list.
If you were alive at the time, would you solemnly shake your head and condemn the rioters for undermining the legitimacy of their cause? Would you say “Well, the use of fire hoses, batons, and dogs is regrettable, but I fail to see how rioting and looting relates to Jim Crow laws!”
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate.
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season."
Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail - Dr. King
If you think that this time is different, this time the protestors are going too far, this time it is altogether too much! You are not alone.
You are not alone in cheering on the police who seek to stamp out protests of their brutality with more brutality.
You are not alone because there are many racists in this country, whether they are passive or active.
LAW & ORDER!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020
You are not alone in your complicit support of a brutal police state that seeks to silence dissenters and snuff out those who speak truth to power.
I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail - Dr. King
You are not alone, but you are wrong.
And if you do not choose the side of the protestors, of the activists, of those who desperately want to be free from the terrors of police brutalizing them and their families, you have chosen the wrong side, and history will record you as an abettor to racial violence and discrimination.
Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes.
I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together.
I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail - Dr. King
This one has personally been very tricky for me.
I think it is horrible that these protests are occurring under the specter of the coronavirus. There will be people who die because they attended a rally.
I wrote a post two months ago about the anti-quarantine protests that took place in April. I noted that I disagreed with those protests, but I was careful to stress that I still believed that peaceful assembly is a crucial tool for shaping society.
The right to freely assemble is a crucial right afforded to us. It should not be given up easily. If we demean those who assemble now, we risk not being able to assemble for protests in a more significant manner later.
[...] Gatherings of people drive politics and culture. The right to peacefully assemble and protest is sacred to me.
So let's keep some empathy in mind as we move forward.
[...] The next batch of protestors may have a more serious message [...] Let us be careful not to demean peaceful protests as we move forward.
I personally have struggled with this. I want to attend a protest. I want to show my support. I want to have a voice in this fight. But I am immunosuppressed due to my kidney transplant, and I do not want to get sick and die. I have wrestled with my feelings on this and I am not altogether impressed with myself.
I can only say that I admire those with the courage to attend a rally right now, and I am saddened by the future consequences of these large gatherings, however unintentional or well-meaning.
Yep, there are good police officers. No one is protesting those officers. They are protesting murderers and abusers.
Again, this is not a reason to terminate your thoughts. You do not get off the hook for saying “well, some cops are good.” Yes, and? What about the ones who aren’t? Finish the thought.
People aren’t making this stuff up.
LOUIS C.K: "Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it's true because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce. That would be sad. If two people were married and ... they just had a great thing and then they got divorced, that would be really sad. But that has happened zero times."
Look, we’re not living in some utopia where every black person in America has these amazing, incredible, super positive interactions with the police and then randomly complain about it afterwards. These protests are not coming from a place of inauthenticity.
People of color have tried very hard to tell you one thing - they are victimized by the police daily.
The numbers back them up - Black people are 2.5x more likely to be killed by police than white people are.
In Utah, the African Americans comprise just 1.06 percent of the population but they accounted for 10 percent of police killings over the past seven years - a disproportional rate of 9.21 times.
In Minnesota, Black Americans are nearly four times as likely to be killed by law enforcement, with Black victims comprising 20 percent of those killed, despite comprising only 5 percent of the overall population.
And if your response is to plug your ears and tune the complaints of black Americans out, you cannot be surprised when tensions boil over.
How do you feel when you watch the numerous videos of police gassing, shooting, ramming, and abusing citizens?
How about this video, where the woman in the middle of the screen is shot in the chest with a tear gas canister? (The young woman survived and is currently listed in “Serious but stable” condition at the hospital she was taken to.)
This is a fantastic video timeline of Mr. Trump’s photo op at St. John’s Church, where peaceful, lawfully assembled protestors were tear gassed, fired upon, pepper sprayed, shoved, and forcefully evacuated in order to make way for the President’s retinue.
Here is a video from the event where a police officer with a riot shield bashes the head of a protestor.
This violence was committed in order to clear the path for Mr. Trump’s photo op where he held a Bible in front of a church after declaring himself a law and order President.
Here, we can see the police viciously attack a press member with wooden batons.
Here, police attack a member of the Australian press.
Here, police pepper spray a man and then shoot a fucking tear gas canister at his head.
Here, police pepper spray a member of the press who is laying on the ground displaying his press identification badge.
Here, a woman lays slumped on the ground with a tear gas canister embedded in her face (NSFW).
Here, a military medical helicopter is deployed in a show of force, hovering above protestors.
Mr. Trump does not find anything wrong with using military equipment to intimidate American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.
The problem is not the very talented, low-flying helicopter pilots wanting to save our city, the problem is the arsonists, looters, criminals, and anarchists, wanting to destroy it (and our Country)!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2020
Here, a member of the press is shoved into a fire by a member of Denver SWAT.
Here, protestors on their knees are pepper sprayed by an officer.
Here, a protestor is dragged behind a wall and beaten by police officers.
Here is two hours worth of police brutality caught on film.
How do you feel?
I feel rage. Impotent rage.
There is a vanishingly small chance that any of these officers will suffer consequences for what they have done.
They will be protected by their unions and their code of silence. They will be protected by the public opinion of people like our President, who believe American citizens need to be “dominated”. They will never know justice.
TRUMP: And when you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon — you just see them thrown in, rough — I said, ‘Please don't be too nice,'
And disturbingly, some parts of the country are rabidly cheering them on.
The rage and hopeless anger that I (and hopefully, you) feel watching these clips - that is what black people endure every day.
They endure the knowledge that police officers can maim them, attack them, murder them - in broad daylight, on film, from multiple angles - and they will get away with it.
So, if your angle here is - what about the good cops?
Let me know when police officers stop violently assaulting peaceful protestors.
Let me know when police officers hold each other accountable for their actions.
Let me know when police officers go on strike and refuse to injure and maim their fellow Americans at the behest of the State.
When that happens, perhaps we can talk.
Yep, all lives matter. Your life matters.
This protest, this movement, is focused on the idea that America does not value Black Lives.
The slogan “Black Lives Matters” is very short and succinct.
Yet it is willfully misinterpreted every day. It does not mean that other races do not matter. It does not mean that you do not matter. It does not mean anything other than “The lives of black people matter.”
So if you’re wondering why people are annoyed when you reflexively spout “All Lives Matter,” here’s why: They know that you’re dodging the issue at hand. They know that you’re uncomfortable admitting that people of color suffer from systemic racism every day in this country, and that you will contort yourself to great lengths to avoid discussing it.
Saying “All Lives Matter” is not the galaxy-brained move that you seem to think it is.
It minimizes the legitimate grievances that are being presented by the black community, and it’s pretty transparent why you’re doing it.
Let’s say a house in your neighborhood catches fire. Firefighters arrive to extinguish it.
When you say “All Lives Matter,” it’s like saying “Hey, fire department, I know their house is actually on fire right now, but I would like everyone to acknowledge that my house is also worthy of being hosed down if it were on fire too!”
Yeah, no shit! Want to help us put out the fire on this house?
Fresh off of mismanaging a pandemic that has (so far) claimed 110,000 America lives, Mr. Trump, perhaps stung by a nation’s criticism of his inaction, has decided that he will swiftly resolve racial tension in America by “dominating” his citizens.
From clearing peaceful protestors at a church so that he could stage a photo op, to inflaming tensions across the country with his rhetoric, to announcing his commitment to giving the police more funding during a nation-wide protest against police funding, Mr. Trump has done nothing to help the situation.
The Radical Left Democrats new theme is "Defund the Police". Remember that when you don't want Crime, especially against you and your family. This is where Sleepy Joe is being dragged by the socialists. I am the complete opposite, more money for Law Enforcement! #LAWANDORDER— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2020
Mr. Trump berated governors for not “dominating” United States citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.
TRUMP: If you don't dominate, you're wasting your time. They're going to run over you. You're going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.
TRUMP: You're making a mistake because you're making yourselves look like fools. And some have done a great job. But a lot of you, it's not — it's not a great day for our country. You know, when other countries watch this, they're watching this, the next day, wow, they're really a pushover. And we can't be a pushover.
TRUMP: When someone's throwing a rock, that's like shooting a gun. [ed note: What?] We've had a couple of people badly hurt, with no retribution. You have to do retribution, in my opinion. You have to use your own legal system. But if you want this to stop, you have to prosecute people.
DEFENSE SECRETARY ESPER: I think the sooner that you mass and dominate the battlespace, the quicker this dissipates and we can get back to the right normal
D.C. had no problems last night. Many arrests. Great job done by all. Overwhelming force. Domination. Likewise, Minneapolis was great (thank you President Trump!).— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 2, 2020
If a foreign actor talked about “retribution”, “battlespaces”, and “dominating” American civilians, we would drone strike them.
When the Mayor of the District of Columbia began the process of removing the National Guard from her city, Mr. Trump did not take kindly to the idea.
...over the last number of nights. If she doesn't treat these men and women well, then we'll bring in a different group of men and women!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2020
His reference to “a different group of men and women” is most likely towards his powers under the Insurrection Act.
Just to be clear - the President of the United States is threatening a Mayor with an unwanted and unnecessary occupation of troops in her city.
THE THIRD AMENDMENT: No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Not content with merely threatening the lives of his constituents, Mr. Trump has continued to classify peaceful protestors as terrorists who must be “dominated” with violence.
If you watch Fake News @CNN or MSDNC, you would think that the killers, terrorists, arsonists, anarchists, thugs, hoodlums, looters, ANTIFA & others, would be the nicest, kindest most wonderful people in the Whole Wide World. No, they are what they are - very bad for our Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2020
It is worth noting a few things here:
Mr. Trump and his Attorney General have not let a lack of evidence stop them.
The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020
WILLIAM BARR: The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.
The President, not content with classifying his political opponents as domestic terrorists, has continued to wage war against the media.
So pathetic to watch the Fake News Lamestream Media playing down the gravity and depravity of the Radical Left, looters and thugs, ripping up our Liberal Democrat run (only) cities. It is almost like they are all working together?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2020
Mr. Trump has encountered plenty of horrified opposition to his rhetoric, but none may be more impactful than the criticisms voiced by his former Secretary of Defense, James Mattis.
JAMES MATTIS: "Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us.
We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.
We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children."
Mr. Trump doggedly avoided wearing a mask in public in the early months of the pandemic, despite the recommendations of his administration.
He asked an entire country to sacrifice months of their lives in lock-downs and quarantines, and refused to show one ounce of solidarity in the process.
TRUMP: "I just don't want to wear one myself. It's a recommendation; they recommend it. I'm feeling good. I just don't want to be doing — I don't know, somehow sitting in the Oval Office … I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don't know. Somehow, I don't see it for myself. I just — I just don't."
Mr. Trump is obsessed with the projection of strength. He will not allow himself to be viewed as mortal or weak. He is enamored with dictators and strongmen.
(Playboy interview, 1990) TRUMP: "When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it...
Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak … as being spit on by the rest of the world."
His obsession with deploying the military and projecting a facade of strength should come as a surprise to no one.
Great job last night at the White House by the U.S. @SecretService. They were not only totally professional, but very cool. I was inside, watched every move, and couldn't have felt more safe. They let the "protesters" scream & rant as much as they wanted, but whenever someone....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2020
....got too frisky or out of line, they would quickly come down on them, hard - didn't know what hit them. The front line was replaced with fresh agents, like magic. Big crowd, professionally organized, but nobody came close to breaching the fence. If they had they would....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2020
....have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That's when people would have been really badly hurt, at least. Many Secret Service agents just waiting for action. "We put the young ones on the front line, sir, they love it, and....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2020
....good practice." As you saw last night, they were very cool & very professional. Never let it get out of hand. Thank you! On the bad side, the D.C. Mayor, @MurielBowser, who is always looking for money & help, wouldn't let the D.C. Police get involved. "Not their job." Nice!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2020
This is an American President gleefully describing his citizens being arrested.
“Very cool,” indeed.
If you support this man at this point, I really don’t know what to tell you. I would genuinely inquire as to your political leanings - your tangible feelings on how a government should run, not your support for one man.
Do you think that a President should delight in imagining the violence his bodyguards could visit upon people?
Do you think that a President should cast protestors as terrorists?
Do you think Presidents should seek to calm and heal a nation in a time of strife?
Should the President threaten the Mayor of D.C. with a military occupation as political retribution?
I am asking your honest opinion of those actions. I know that answering them may be uncomfortable.
Are the above behaviors healthy in a democracy?
If Obama threatened to deploy the military in D.C. to squelch his political rivals, how would you have felt?
If you identify as a small-government conservative, how can you support a President who wants to deploy the military in our streets?
If you are religious, do you believe that a man who is thrice-married, who has been accused of sexual misconduct over twenty five times, who cannot name a Bible verse when pressed, who had sex with a pornstar and then paid her to stay silent, who boasts of his ability to grab women by their genitals - do you believe this man should use a Bible as a prop?
If you believe in the First Amendment, are you not concerned by a President who has gone to great lengths to classify his political opponents as domestic terrorists and believes that state governments need to “dominate” their citizens lest they look like “jerks?”
TRUMP: We're going to take the firearms first and then go to court, because that's another system. Because a lot of times by the time you go to court … it takes so long to go to court to get the due process procedures. I like taking the guns early.
If you believe in the Second Amendment, are you not concerned that this President believes that deploying the military against civilians when they disagree with him?
If you believe in the Third Amendment, are you not concerned when the President threatens the Mayor of a city with an unwanted occupation of her city?
Fortunately, a majority of Americans are thoroughly disgusted with the way Mr. Trump has mishandled yet another pivotal moment in his presidency.
Maybe you think Black Lives Matter, but so do All Lives!
Maybe you have painted yourself as a level-headed centrist - sure, police brutality and racism are bad, but violence and looting is not the answer!
Maybe you buy into the far-right rhetoric that the protests are secretly being orchestrated by George Soros, Antifa, and domestic terrorists.
More than likely, you believe you’re not racist. You’re against racism, after all! But the police need to be able to do their job, and looting is wrong, and you don’t understand why people are burning cars - after all, aren’t they supposedly peaceful?
If you remain entirely unconvinced of the merits of the current civil rights movement, perhaps I can offer up a couple of selfish reasons for you.
Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas if God does exist, he stands to receive infinite gains (as represented by eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternity in Hell).
In a nutshell, as long as the possibility of God existing is greater than 0%, the “safer bet” is to believe in God.
An atheist gains very little for rejecting God, but they risk eternal damnation if they are wrong.
A believer loses very little for his belief, but stands to gain the eternal glory of heaven.
Much like Pascal’s original wager, there is a “safer bet” to make when deciding if a civil rights protest is worth believing in.
If you support a given civil rights movement, and it succeeds, there is an infinite capacity for gain. You will be on the right side of history. You will be viewed favorably by future generations. You will be commended for your foresight, ethics, and humanitarianism.
You also will have lent your voice to a worthy cause and advocated for a better future! That should really be the headline here. But at this point, if you do not support these protests, I can only assume I am speaking to someone who does not believe in the inherent rightness of civil rights movements, and so I am reduced to these strange arguments instead.
If you do not support a given civil rights movement, and it succeeds, you will forever be viewed as a traitor, sexist, racist, uneducated, backwards, [insert pejorative here], and worthy of erasure from history books. You will have lent support to a system that was found to be immoral - thus rendering you immoral. You will be hated and then forgotten by history.
Tell me this - what do we call a conscientious, educated, gainfully employed German in the 1940’s, who strongly disagreed with the ruling party’s ideology, avoided military service, and had no personal animus towards Jews or minorities?
We call that person a Nazi.
History does not discriminate in its treatment of losers.
You’re aghast at the scenes of rioters flipping cars and stealing iPhones. You think that whatever legitimacy the BLM protests may hold has been rendered irrelevant by their violent actions. After all, how is someone looting an Apple store even remotely linked to George Floyd’s death?
You wish everyone could just calm down. There’s shades of grey, people! There are good cops out there, and you’re painting them with a broad brush. How are we supposed to talk seriously about anything when you’re out in the streets tearing down signs and setting cars on fire?
The people who are rioting are well aware of your concerns. They know that you will do anything to avoid saying the following statement: “Black Lives Matter”
That is why they are rioting.
They saw how you reacted to Colin Kaepernick when he kneeled during the National Anthem.
They have seen you driving around with your Blue Lives Matter sticker. They have watched Fox News. They have listened to you. They have read your op-eds. They see you posting on Reddit and Twitter.
And now, they are enraged. They are bitter. They just witnessed a lynching of one of their own.
Do you want the riots and looting to stop?
Imagine how quickly they would fade away if 90% of the population said “You know what? You have a point. Police brutality is terrible, and black lives are important. We should look into this.”
I’m not saying that you should placate the protestors by halfheartedly agreeing with them. I’m saying if you fully acknowledge that systemic racial inequality continues to plague this country, and you support efforts to improve the situation, that there wouldn’t be much to argue about, would there?
But that’s not what black people in this country hear. That’s not what they see. They see a continuing and deliberate effort by white people in this country to avoid agreeing with them.
“But I do agree with them! I said that police brutality is bad - but All Lives Matter, not just black ones!”
You’re evading, obfuscating, deflecting, and avoiding the point. Why?
Why do you continue to bemoan the “tension” but refuse to talk about the issue that millions of Americans are asking you to think about?
If nothing else convinces you, maybe a slight blow to your ego will?
I am chronically early. I was raised in a family that considers fifteen minutes early to be on time. “On time” is late, and “late” is unforgivable.
When you are someone who chronically runs late, all of the early people know. Trust me, we know.
We give you fake times, we plan around your inevitable delay, we know that you have a slight character flaw and we work around it. We know that you’re not reliable and we do our best to not resent you for it.
When you’re running late - the Early People are talking about you. Someone will say “Where’s Bob?” and everyone will laugh. Because they know - you are A Late Person, and we can’t expect much from you.
“He’s running on Bob time, I’m sure he’ll be here… in an hour or so”
The thing is, if you’re A Late Person, you probably aren’t aware of the conversations that the Early People have had about you.
Rest assured - the Early People are polite enough to hold their tongue, but they are perpetually annoyed that you are wasting everyone’s time as you once again mismanage your schedule. They will calmly accept your proffered excuse even as they internally roll their eyes at you.
“Oh, the traffic was terrible” - yes, that’s why they left early, and you could have too.
The things you say at dinner tables, your Facebook comments, your support for Mr. Trump, your knee-jerk “All Lives Matter” retort, the Fox News logo burned into your TV’s screen - it does not go unnoticed.
The people around you may be polite enough to avoid it. They avoid bringing certain topics up in a group setting.
Because they know that you are A Person Who Is Kinda Racist.
But deep down, they want to bring it up. They want to ask - how are you down with this clown? Why do you keep turning on Fox News when you know perfectly well that it’s a propaganda machine? Why do you say the strange, vaguely racist things that you do?
Why are you so Late?
This study from the University of Illinois reveals a very interesting trend in racial attitudes over time.
White respondents are extraordinarily likely (in recent years) to agree that racial equality is important.
But they are not likely to agree with any efforts by the government to implement policies that would attempt to close racial gaps of prosperity, education, or housing.
I think the most illustrative data from this study comes in the form of the following two graphs:
There is a group of people who see, feel, and experience the effects of discrimination every single day.
And white people, in general, do not recognize that discrimination.
This disparity is, I believe, one of the roots of the current protests in America.
When I speak of being Late, I am referring to lack of support for the current iteration of protests. I am referring to a lack of support for the very idea that black people face discrimination.
If you do not yet believe that black people are discriminated against in American society, I have no other way of saying this - you are Late.
In 1970, it would have been an unpopular opinion to disagree with the statement “Black people shouldn’t push themselves where they aren’t wanted”.
If you disagreed with that statement at that time (as only 20% of whites would), you would be An Early Person.
If you supported civil rights in the 60s and 70s, you may have been mocked and disagreed with on a large scale. But crucially, you would be proven correct over time, as evidenced by the shift in public opinion.
Currently, those who are against the protestors enjoy the support of many white Americans, including the President.
It is extraordinarily likely, looking at the graphs above and the general trends of racial harmony and acceptance, that the anti-protest attitudes of today will be unanimously viewed as barbaric and racist in 50 years.
Being An Early Person comes with some issues. You will spend a great deal of your life waiting for people to arrive, and then politely listening to their excuses as to why they were Late.
But being Early rarely carries a truly significant cost to yourself - it costs some of your time and some of your patience, but you can rest assured that you were in the right place at the right time.
Being A Late Person holds the rest of your group back. As long as you are A Late Person, your Early friends will always have to wait for you.
They will always wonder - why is Bob always Late? Doesn’t he know it’s rude, boorish, selfish, and just plain wrong?
Don’t be Late to the party. People hate that. And they will hate you.