BLM, Crime, Criminology, Social Science, Top Stories

Racist Police Violence Reconsidered

Tony Timpa was 32 years old when he died at the hands of the Dallas police in August 2016. He suffered from mental health difficulties and was unarmed. He wasn’t resisting arrest. He had called the cops from a parking lot while intoxicated because he thought he might be a danger to himself. By the time law enforcement arrived, he had already been handcuffed by the security guards of a store nearby. Even so, the police officers made him lie face down on the grass, and one of them pressed a knee into his back. He remained in this position for 13 minutes until he suffocated. During the harrowing recording of his final moments, he can be heard pleading for his life. A grand jury indictment of the officers involved was overturned.

Not many people have seen this video, however, and that may have something to do with the fact that Timpa was white. During the protests and agonizing discussions about police brutality that have followed the death of George Floyd under remarkably similar circumstances, it is too seldom acknowledged that white men are regularly killed by the cops as well, and that occasionally the cops responsible are black (as it happens, one of the Dallas police officers at the scene of Timpa’s death was an African American). There seems to be a widespread assumption that, under similar circumstances, white cops kill black people but not white people, and that this disparity is either the product of naked racism or underlying racist bias that emerges under pressure. Plenty of evidence indicates, however, that racism is less important to understanding police behavior than is commonly supposed.

Timpa was, of course, just one case and might be dismissed as an anomaly. On the other hand, we are told that what happened to George Floyd is what happens to black people “all the time.” But because the killing of black suspects by white police officers receives more media attention and elicits more outrage, such instances leave us vulnerable to the availability heuristic—a cognitive bias that leads us to form judgements about the prevalence of phenomena based on the readiness with which we can recall examples. Had Tony Timpa been black, we would all likely know his name by now. Had George Floyd been white, his name would likely be a footnote, briefly reported in Minneapolis local news and quickly forgotten. In fact, white people are victims of police mistreatment “all the time” too. And just as the Timpa case tragically parallels the Floyd one, there are countless episodes paralleling those we hear about involving black people.

In 2014, John Crawford, black, was shot dead by police while waving a BB gun. In 2016, Daniel Shaver, white, was waving a pellet gun out of motel window and suffered the same fate. In 2015, officer Michael Slager shot Walter Scott, black, in the back and killed him as he was running to evade a traffic ticket; the following year, Andrew Thomas, white, was shot in the neck by a police officer and killed as he climbed out of the SUV he had crashed trying to evade arrest. In 2015, Sam DuBose, black, was shot dead as he tried to escape a traffic summons in his car; the same year, Michael Parker, white, was shot dead in the same way while trying escape a ticket for a moving violation. In 2016, Philando Castile, black, was shot dead in his car by a cop as he reached under his waistband for his license and registration during a traffic stop; the same year, Dylan Noble, white, was shot dead under almost identical circumstances. Also in 2016, Alton Sterling, black, was shot dead in front of a convenience store as he was being detained for unruly conduct; the same year, Brandon Stanley, white, was shot dead in a convenience store for trying to avoid a warrant.

So, the perception that the police regularly kill black people under circumstances in which white people would be merely disciplined is in fact a misperception. White people vastly outnumber black people in America, so it should be no surprise that more white people die at the hands of the cops each year than black people. According to a database of fatal police shootings maintained by the Washington Post since 2015, 1,003 people in a population of 328 million were shot by police nationwide in 2019. 405 of those victims were white and 250 were black (of the remaining cases, 163 were Hispanic, 41 are listed as “other,” and 144 as “unknown”). 309 white victims (76.2 percent) were carrying either a gun or a knife, while 199 black victims (79.6 percent) were similarly armed. It is also worth bearing in mind that while police shootings are sometimes perceived to be abuses per se, an analysis of the Post‘s 2015 data by Kimberly Kindy and Kennedy Elliott reminded readers that:

In three-quarters of the fatal shootings, police were under attack or defending someone who was. The officers were often lauded as heroes… 28 percent of those who died were shooting at officers or someone else. Sixteen percent were attacking with other weapons or physical force, and 31 percent were pointing a gun.

Nevertheless, it remains true that black people are killed at a rate disproportionate to their percentage of the population. Does this decisively demonstrate racial bias or murderous animus on the part of American law enforcement? Blacks represent about 13 percent of the US population but about a quarter of victims in cop killings. Whites constitute about 62 percent of the population but only half of those killed by the police. With slight fluctuations, these trends have been broadly consistent.

Statistic: Number of people shot to death by the police in the United States from 2017 to 2020, by race | Statista

However, these figures are not necessarily evidence of police racism. According to the Washington Post‘s database, over 95 percent of the people fatally shot by police officers in 2019 were male, and no serious-minded person argues that this is evidence of systemic misandry. So what, then, accounts for the disproportionate representation of black men among those killed by cops?

The socioeconomic gap between blacks and whites is doubtless an important contributing factor. Police are called to poor neighborhoods more often, so poverty makes someone more likely to encounter law enforcement. From the 1970s through the 1990s, many conservatives argued that too many black people were on welfare. Liberals and progressives replied that, firstly, more white people were on welfare and that, secondly and more importantly, a greater proportion of the black population is on welfare because a greater proportion of black people are mired in poverty. In this context, former Washington Post journalist Wesley Lowery observed that black people are about two-and-a-half times more likely to be killed by cops than their representation in the population would predict. Today, the percentage of black people living in poverty is about two-and-a-half times that of whites (22 percent and nine percent, respectively, in 2018).

This disparity in poverty rates means black people are also disproportionately represented in rates of violent crime. Poverty can lead to dangerous survival choices that include lucrative criminal activity. Furthermore, outstanding warrants can cause suspects to flee law enforcement when stopped for other trivial infractions. This disparity cannot explain every fatal police shooting, including some of the most notorious examples, such as the shootings of Tamir Rice and Philando Castile. Nevertheless, the tragedy remains: Higher aggregate crime rates lead to more encounters with police officers overall which increases the likelihood that a proportion of those encounters will get out of hand. Entrenched socioeconomic disparities should concern us all, and are as intolerable as cop murders. But the idea that the police murder out of racist animus is much less clear than we are often led to suppose.

This is not to say that race has nothing to do with policing issues in America. Black people are disproportionately more likely to be pulled over for drug searches, a disparity that, interestingly, disappears after dusk when officers cannot easily identify the race of a driver. Black people are also more likely to be verbally abused by police during interactions. Contrary to his expectations, Harvard economist Roland Fryer has found that while white men are actually more likely to be killed by cops, black people are more likely to be handcuffed, pushed against the wall, and treated with weapons drawn. Blacks are still somewhat more likely than whites to suffer physical and verbal abuse from the cops even when the behavior of the suspect is taken into account. Findings like these contribute to a general sense that cops treat black people as an enemy.

Racist bias may well play a role in these statistical discrepancies in treatment. Certainly, this perception was as central to the protests in Ferguson, Missouri as the shooting of Michael Brown. If, upon close examination, that turns out to be the case, then this must obviously be addressed. The acrid relationship with police is among the main reasons that so many black people feel like aliens in their own nation. If a new generation of black people could grow up without the sense that the cops are their enemy, America would turn a corner on race and finally break its holding pattern.

Police officers are too often overarmed, undertrained, and low on empathy. Some police officers are surely racist and act like it. But it does not follow that white cops routinely kill black people in tense situations out of racist animus. This scenario may seem plausible—I believed it until only a few years ago. But there are times when facts are counterintuitive, and it is important to get the facts right and to analyze them with clear eyes and a clear mind (the enlightening work of criminologist and ex-cop Peter Moskos is helpful in this regard). Rhetoric has a way of straying from reality, and to get where we all want to go, it is reality that we must address.

 

John McWhorter is a contributing editor at the Atlantic and teaches linguistics at Columbia University. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnHMcWhorter.

Comments

  1. John McWhorter published on Quillette?!! I’d say that’s moving up in the world!
    Also, a very good article. There may be racism still today, but minimizing police brutality should be a relatively color-blind issue that everyone can get behind.

  2. Thank you for this, Dr. McWhorter. Unfortunately, you are presenting facts, as usual, and such are not desirable grist for the mill of contention that poisons our national discourse.

    Still, the facts must be published, and you have my sincere gratitude for doing so. It isn’t just the Black and Hispanic communities that experience colossally poor policing behaviors, but it may be that, this time, members of the Black community may be the ones to bring America back from the madness of destructively adversarial domestic peace-keeping into which it has steadily descended over the last forty years.

    I know many who have been in law enforcement, and they are, like the majority of police officers, decent people facing a sometimes impossible task. Still, the essential decency of law enforcement is too often unable to find expression in the normal course of their daily duties. Rather than remaining stuck in the racial narrative, citizens must be willing to do the basic reading that allows their objections to enforcement policy to be informed, rather than merely a simulacrum of the ubiquitous ravings of ideologues prosecuting agendas ultimately of no benefit to the citizens they purport to help.

  3. I’m thankful to have Quillette where we consistently receive articles that challenge the pervasive dogmas of the day. But I can’t help but notice where we don’t see this article: on the magazine pages of the left-wing rag known as the Atlantic, where McWhorter is a contributing writer. If someone can point me to an article written like this in the Atlantic, I will eat my hat; until then, I will lament the fact that reasoned and evidence-based articles on this subject aren’t appearing in left-wing publications where the audience would benefit the most from reading them.

  4. I’m glad he said that. It is not easy to buck the tribal consensus, and precious few risk doing it. Race hustlers are always loud and demanding. Dissenters usually lean back in their chairs with a deep sigh, and adopt a pensive demeanor. :slight_smile: McWhorter has decided if his tribal card is revoked, he can live with it.

  5. McWhorter is running a genuine risk here. He may be cancelled by the Atlantic’s woke employees for writing this kind of thing.

  6. This is an incredibly good article. With all due respect to Quillette, it’s kind of a shame that it had to be published here while more popular outlets are featuring infinite variations on the orthodox anti-racist position: America is a white supremacist nation and cops are targeting black men. McWhorter is one of the very few voices willing to write honestly about race – in a sane world he would be lionized like (or instead of) Ta-Nahesi Coates and Nikole Hannah-Jones. I can’t help but wonder how many journalists and intellectuals would privately acknowledge that McWhorter is right but live in fear of being ‘canceled’ if they dare to tell the truth. He’s exactly right that anti-racism functions like a religion; we need more heretics like him to proclaim that the Woke are worshiping a false god.

  7. Daniel Shaver, white, was waving a pellet gun out of motel window and suffered the same fate.

    The language here makes it sound like Daniel Shaver was shot while holding the BB gun he brought with him to the hotel, when in fact he was completely disarmed and trying his best to comply with the commands being shouted at him when he was murdered by Philip Brailsford. Murdered. None but the most tenuous justifications were in play when Brailsford discharged his service weapon in that hallway. (A service weapon inscribed against department policy with the phrase You’re Fucked) I contend he should have been found guilty as such, and would even support a potential Civil Rights case against him in spite of the not-guilty verdict. I say this not out of some need to “find justice” for Daniel Shaver but because it is patently unjust that the Mesa, AZ Police Department sends him a check every month to cover the “PTSD related disability” he alleges to have from the incident.

    For a more in depth look at how the lack of media coverage regarding this particular case has made it more, not less, difficult for liberal activists to protect innocent black people from police violence, I highly recommend Connor Friedsdorf’s piece in The Atlantic.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/12/a-police-killing-without-a-hint-of-racism/546983/`

    In the spirit of Quillette’s heterodoxy, I’ll also link a piece written in response by The Root’s Kiersten West Savali. It makes a solid argument that for BLM to take Friedsdorf’s advice and promote awareness of police brutality regardless of a victim’s race would be tantamount to waving a white flag. (No pun intended.)

    https://www.theroot.com/danielshaver-it-is-not-black-people-s-job-to-create-a-1821245480

    @mike33511 Please see above. The Atlantic still hasn’t gone completely off the deep end, especially when you consider they haven’t removed “problematic” pieces from the last 30 years like 2000’s A New Way to Be Mad and 2015’s The Coddling of the American Mind. Even Ta Nehasi Coate’s A Case for Reparations wasn’t an outright farce. That being said, I stopped subscribing in 2015 when it was clear the editors had gotten a bad case of TDS and now read anything that’s behind their online paywall at the public library.

    @K_Dershem Ironically, I’ve taken the advice of all these Instagram “Black Squares” and amplified black voices in my conversations about policing including those of Coleman Hughes, Jason Riley and Dr. McWhorter. It’s shameful that the national media places a higher priority on sharing the tweeted responses of black athletes to the recent protests than those of heterodox black academics.

  8. It is remarkable that a white Catholic school student smirking during a non-violent altercation can gin up more outrage than the Tony Timpa killing. But even thinking in tactical terms, it seems that Black Lives Matter would benefit from every now and then from amplifying cases like his – much as Ruth Bader Ginsburg sometimes represented male plaintiffs before the Supreme Court in order to advance her legal framework for women’s rights. Yet many BLM activists still seem to prefer arguing that “it goes without saying that all lives matter,” when in fact white people are more likely to protest the police killing of a black man than a white man. And indeed we should hope that white people don’t start viewing police shootings of white suspects as tragedies befalling the race instead of an unfortunate individual.

  9. A genuinely brave article, and an honorable one. McWhorter has put his career on the line. Curiously, such are the times, he will be damned for trying to stomp out fires rather than dousing them in gasoline. One statistic he didn’t mention though is that African Americans, while 13% of the population commit over 50% of the nation’s crimes. It is a statistic we do need to talk about it. It doesn’t necessarily mean blacks are genetically programmed to be more violent, by the way. Asians of Chinese descent are rarely seen as violent yet they did a lot of violence during the 1960s. I doubt Germans are genetically more cruel than other nationalites but we all know the story that happened there. Cultures can encourage and excuse violence. They excused lynchings just as they now excuse riots and anti-white sentiment. The problem is not simply poverty, it’s a disregard for education, and a sense of entitlement. Just as whites have to examine themselves (preferably not to the point that you cast yourself as the devil), blacks need to examine themselves. They don’t have to flagellate or humiliate themselves, but they need to realize at least some of their problems are of their own community’s making.

  10. Why read the Atlantic when you can read the Spectator?

  11. I saw the incident you refer to on The Young Turks, and I have to say that I was as shocked as you were- initially. However, there are three things to bear in mind in relation to the incident in question. First, Police Officers undergoing advanced tactical training which includes what amounts to CQB (close quarters battle), are quite accurately told that the hallway is the most dangerous place within any hotel or office building. They are taught to move from room to room, spending the minimal amount of time in the hallway as humanly possible, in order to reduce risk- so he would have felt exposed.

    Second, Daniel Shaver was obviously scared shitless in his situation, and as result made the terrible mistake of attempting to put his hands behind his back, in an arrest pose, when, from a police officer’s perspective this could have easily looked like reaching to his waistband for a weapon.

    Third, and to your point it was clear to me, on reflection, that the officer was letting the adrenaline ride him, instead of riding the adrenaline. This is difficult reality to deal with, from an institutional perspective, because whilst a Police Officer can be trained in simulated scenarios, there is simply no way to mimic the biological conditions that will exist in a real world scenario. This is perhaps why Police Officers with veteran military experience, skewed especially in the case of Combat Arms, are 20% less likely to take a life in dangerous situation.

    Years ago, I watched a UK science programme (QED or Horizon) on sex differences, in which men and women were compared when Go Karting. The experiment was constructed to emphasis the bearing that testosterone has on performance and adrenaline production. With very high testosterone production males take undue risks and crash the Kart, decreasing overall lap time. With too low adrenaline production, fewer risks are taken resulting in less speed and slower lap times, and one presumes that in a life threatening situation reaction times will be dangerously less alert. The happy medium and optimal condition for both men and women, are intermediate to high levels testosterone and adrenaline, where reaction times are increased and risks are undertaken as calculated risks.

    Because Go Karts are low to the ground, they create a perception of speed and risk which is largely, but not completely, an illusion. It might be possible to construct a track which is especially created for Law Enforcement to simulate the biological conditions of life threatening situations. There are techniques to increase your adrenal responses, and reduce them when necessary. Officers who can’t make the expected lap time should be taught the former, whilst Officers who routinely crash and lose their temper could be taught the latter.

    In the case of especially high testosterone levels, there are lifestyle changes that can be made to diet and types of exercise patterns that can reduce testosterone. This would be particularly useful for men over forty, as reducing high to very high levels of testosterone to intermediate levels, can significantly reduce the chances of developing impotence, and preserve naturally high levels of male sexual functionality until far later in life.

  12. The reason BLM wants to focus on police brutality in America is to suck everyone into talking about “systemic racism” in America, and how “white privilege” is about how white people benefit from the capitalist structure that once used slavery… but they don’t want to admit that if this is true, the “systemic racism” at the global level, wherein major corporations make billions off of slave labor and sweatshops in China, India, Bangladesh, etc creates an American Privilege wherein Black people are also at the top of this global food chain, reaping the benefits of a global capitalism built on slavery in the Far East.

    So the focus remains tightly on America, and the police are merely a symbol of the authority that protects the structure. This same structure has black athletes like Lebron and Colin making millions, even billions, selling Nike shoes made by slave labor. If you look at the global picture, all Americans are “white.” So they keep the focus on the national level.

  13. Everyone who has been paying attention the last three years knew the leftist hysteria was going to devolve into violence. They just needed a spark, and they got one.

    The leftist narrative has been that Donald Trump is a racist and he is creating division. In other words, Trump believes that the 48 million legal immigrants and illegal aliens who reside in our country is enough, just like tens of millions of other Americans. In the left’s deviant thinking, that means all of the President Trump’s supporters are racist, too. The left screams that there is no legitimate opposition to their position, and we will get your fired, smeared, and have your life threatened because you are guilty of wrongthink. Democratic pluralism is racist! We now live in country where quoting and supporting the values of Martin Luther King makes you a racist!

    The inevitable consequence of calling everything racist has been the cheapening of the very concept of racism. If everything is racist, nothing is racist. Many Americans who are not racist are understandably outraged by this, and are likely to pay no attention the next time someone claims racism, legitimate or not. It is a kind of intellectual pornography. We used to get excited about magazines that carried women in bikinis, but we now mostly yawn, because the hardcore stuff is just a click away. We have come to the point when the non-stop claims of racism also evokes a yawn. As I write, I am getting tired of typing the words “racism” and “racist.”

    According to the left, our grammar school textbooks were wrong (probably written by racists) and there are more than the commonly accepted five races (blame racist anthropologists). In the last three months we have been told that “Chinese” is now a race, and stating that a virus originated there is racism. Limiting admission to the United States of people from Islamic countries that actively support terrorism is also racist. I thought Islam was a religion, but in my racist mind, I was wrong. I wonder if it is racist to state that Americans and Christians are races? The race of Canadians would probably say they weren’t. Hey, why stop at nations. I consider myself to be a member of the New York race. As long as a identify as that, I’m good.

    America is being destroyed by really bad people. Unless we say “no”, they will succeed.

  14. Here is a very good essay by a (African American) UC Berkeley history professor in the form of a letter to his colleagues. Unfortunately, in a sign of our times it is anonymous for fear of repercussions. Copied in full. https://archive.fo/HAEMz#selection-483.0-575.135

    Dear profs X, Y, Z

    I am one of your colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley. I have met you both personally but do not know you closely, and am contacting you anonymously, with apologies. I am worried that writing this email publicly might lead to me losing my job, and likely all future jobs in my field.

    In your recent departmental emails you mentioned our pledge to diversity, but I am increasingly alarmed by the absence of diversity of opinion on the topic of the recent protests and our community response to them.

    In the extended links and resources you provided, I could not find a single instance of substantial counter-argument or alternative narrative to explain the under-representation of black individuals in academia or their over-representation in the criminal justice system. The explanation provided in your documentation, to the near exclusion of all others, is univariate: the problems of the black community are caused by whites, or, when whites are not physically present, by the infiltration of white supremacy and white systemic racism into American brains, souls, and institutions.

    Many cogent objections to this thesis have been raised by sober voices, including from within the black community itself, such as Thomas Sowell and Wilfred Reilly. These people are not racists or ‘Uncle Toms’. They are intelligent scholars who reject a narrative that strips black people of agency and systematically externalizes the problems of the black community onto outsiders. Their view is entirely absent from the departmental and UCB-wide communiques.

    The claim that the difficulties that the black community faces are entirely causally explained by exogenous factors in the form of white systemic racism, white supremacy, and other forms of white discrimination remains a problematic hypothesis that should be vigorously challenged by historians. Instead, it is being treated as an axiomatic and actionable truth without serious consideration of its profound flaws, or its worrying implication of total black impotence. This hypothesis is transforming our institution and our culture, without any space for dissent outside of a tightly policed, narrow discourse.

    A counternarrative exists. If you have time, please consider examining some of the documents I attach at the end of this email.

    Overwhelmingly, the reasoning provided by BLM and allies is either primarily anecdotal (as in the case with the bulk of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ undeniably moving article) or it is transparently motivated. As an example of the latter problem, consider the proportion of black incarcerated Americans. This proportion is often used to characterize the criminal justice system as anti-black. However, if we use the precise same methodology, we would have to conclude that the criminal justice system is even more anti-male than it is anti-black. Would we characterize criminal justice as a systemically misandrist conspiracy against innocent American men? I hope you see that this type of reasoning is flawed, and requires a significant suspension of our rational faculties. Black people are not incarcerated at higher rates than their involvement in violent crime would predict. This fact has been demonstrated multiple times across multiple jurisdictions in multiple countries. And yet, I see my department uncritically reproducing a narrative that diminishes black agency in favor of a white-centric explanation that appeals to the department’s apparent desire to shoulder the ‘white man’s burden’ and to promote a narrative of white guilt.

    If we claim that the criminal justice system is white-supremacist, why is it that Asian Americans, Indian Americans, and Nigerian Americans are incarcerated at vastly lower rates than white Americans? This is a funny sort of white supremacy. Even Jewish Americans are incarcerated less than gentile whites. I think it’s fair to say that your average white supremacist disapproves of Jews. And yet, these alleged white supremacists incarcerate gentiles at vastly higher rates than Jews. None of this is addressed in your literature. None of this is explained, beyond hand-waving and ad hominems. “Those are racist dogwhistles”. “The model minority myth is white supremacist”. “Only fascists talk about black-on-black crime”, ad nauseam. These types of statements do not amount to counterarguments: they are simply arbitrary offensive classifications, intended to silence and oppress discourse. Any serious historian will recognize these for the silencing orthodoxy tactics they are, common to suppressive regimes, doctrines, and religions throughout time and space. They are intended to crush real diversity and permanently exile the culture of robust criticism from our department.

    Increasingly, we are being called upon to comply and subscribe to BLM’s problematic view of history, and the department is being presented as unified on the matter. In particular, ethnic minorities are being aggressively marshaled into a single position. Any apparent unity is surely a function of the fact that dissent could almost certainly lead to expulsion or cancellation for those of us in a precarious position, which is no small number.

    I personally don’t dare speak out against the BLM narrative, and with this barrage of alleged unity being mass-produced by the administration, tenured professoriat, the UC administration, corporate America, and the media, the punishment for dissent is a clear danger at a time of widespread economic vulnerability. I am certain that if my name were attached to this email, I would lose my job and all future jobs, even though I believe in and can justify every word I type.

    The vast majority of violence visited on the black community is committed by black people. There are virtually no marches for these invisible victims, no public silences, no heartfelt letters from the UC regents, deans, and departmental heads. The message is clear: Black lives only matter when whites take them. Black violence is expected and insoluble, while white violence requires explanation and demands solution. Please look into your hearts and see how monstrously bigoted this formulation truly is.

    No discussion is permitted for nonblack victims of black violence, who proportionally outnumber black victims of nonblack violence. This is especially bitter in the Bay Area, where Asian victimization by black assailants has reached epidemic proportions, to the point that the SF police chief has advised Asians to stop hanging good-luck charms on their doors, as this attracts the attention of (overwhelmingly black) home invaders. Home invaders like George Floyd. For this actual, lived, physically experienced reality of violence in the USA, there are no marches, no tearful emails from departmental heads, no support from McDonald’s and Wal-Mart. For the History department, our silence is not a mere abrogation of our duty to shed light on the truth: it is a rejection of it.

    The claim that black intraracial violence is the product of redlining, slavery, and other injustices is a largely historical claim. It is for historians, therefore, to explain why Japanese internment or the massacre of European Jewry hasn’t led to equivalent rates of dysfunction and low SES performance among Japanese and Jewish Americans respectively. Arab Americans have been viciously demonized since 9/11, as have Chinese Americans more recently. However, both groups outperform white Americans on nearly all SES indices – as do Nigerian Americans, who incidentally have black skin. It is for historians to point out and discuss these anomalies. However, no real discussion is possible in the current climate at our department. The explanation is provided to us, disagreement with it is racist, and the job of historians is to further explore additional ways in which the explanation is additionally correct. This is a mockery of the historical profession.

    Most troublingly, our department appears to have been entirely captured by the interests of the Democratic National Convention, and the Democratic Party more broadly. To explain what I mean, consider what happens if you choose to donate to Black Lives Matter, an organization UCB History has explicitly promoted in its recent mailers. All donations to the official BLM website are immediately redirected to ActBlue Charities, an organization primarily concerned with bankrolling election campaigns for Democrat candidates. Donating to BLM today is to indirectly donate to Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign. This is grotesque given the fact that the American cities with the worst rates of black-on-black violence and police-on-black violence are overwhelmingly Democrat-run. Minneapolis itself has been entirely in the hands of Democrats for over five decades; the ‘systemic racism’ there was built by successive Democrat administrations.

    The patronizing and condescending attitudes of Democrat leaders towards the black community, exemplified by nearly every Biden statement on the black race, all but guarantee a perpetual state of misery, resentment, poverty, and the attendant grievance politics which are simultaneously annihilating American political discourse and black lives. And yet, donating to BLM is bankrolling the election campaigns of men like Mayor Frey, who saw their cities devolve into violence. This is a grotesque capture of a good-faith movement for necessary police reform, and of our department, by a political party. Even worse, there are virtually no avenues for dissent in academic circles. I refuse to serve the Party, and so should you. The total alliance of major corporations involved in human exploitation with BLM should be a warning flag to us, and yet this damning evidence goes unnoticed, purposefully ignored, or perversely celebrated. We are the useful idiots of the wealthiest classes, carrying water for Jeff Bezos and other actual, real, modern-day slavers. Starbucks, an organisation using literal black slaves in its coffee plantation suppliers, is in favor of BLM. Sony, an organisation using cobalt mined by yet more literal black slaves, many of whom are children, is in favor of BLM. And so, apparently, are we. The absence of counter-narrative enables this obscenity. Fiat lux, indeed.

    There also exists a large constituency of what can only be called ‘race hustlers’: hucksters of all colors who benefit from stoking the fires of racial conflict to secure administrative jobs, charity management positions, academic jobs and advancement, or personal political entrepreneurship.

    Given the direction our history department appears to be taking far from any commitment to truth, we can regard ourselves as a formative training institution for this brand of snake-oil salespeople. Their activities are corrosive, demolishing any hope at harmonious racial coexistence in our nation and colonizing our political and institutional life. Many of their voices are unironically segregationist. MLK would likely be called an Uncle Tom if he spoke on our campus today. We are training leaders who intend, explicitly, to destroy one of the only truly successful ethnically diverse societies in modern history. As the PRC, an ethnonationalist and aggressively racially chauvinist national polity with null immigration and no concept of jus solis increasingly presents itself as the global political alternative to the US, I ask you: Is this wise? Are we really doing the right thing?

    As a final point, our university and department has made multiple statements celebrating and eulogizing George Floyd. Floyd was a multiple felon who once held a pregnant black woman at gunpoint. He broke into her home with a gang of men and pointed a gun at her pregnant stomach. He terrorized the women in his community. He sired and abandoned multiple children, playing no part in their support or upbringing, failing one of the most basic tests of decency for a human being. He was a drug-addict and sometime drug-dealer, a swindler who preyed upon his honest and hard-working neighbors.

    And yet, the regents of UC and the historians of the UCB History department are celebrating this violent criminal, elevating his name to virtual sainthood. A man who hurt women. A man who hurt black women. With the full collaboration of the UCB history department, corporate America, most mainstream media outlets, and some of the wealthiest and most privileged opinion-shaping elites of the USA, he has become a culture hero, buried in a golden casket, his (recognized) family showered with gifts and praise. Americans are being socially pressured into kneeling for this violent, abusive misogynist. A generation of black men are being coerced into identifying with George Floyd, the absolute worst specimen of our race and species. I’m ashamed of my department. I would say that I’m ashamed of both of you, but perhaps you agree with me, and are simply afraid, as I am, of the backlash of speaking the truth. It’s hard to know what kneeling means, when you have to kneel to keep your job.

    It shouldn’t affect the strength of my argument above, but for the record, I write as a person of color. My family have been personally victimized by men like Floyd. We are aware of the condescending depredations of the Democrat party against our race. The humiliating assumption that we are too stupid to do STEM, that we need special help and lower requirements to get ahead in life, is richly familiar to us. I sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to deal with open fascists, who at least would be straightforward in calling me a subhuman, and who are unlikely to share my race.

    The ever-present soft bigotry of low expectations and the permanent claim that the solutions to the plight of my people rest exclusively on the goodwill of whites rather than on our own hard work is psychologically devastating. No other group in America is systematically demoralized in this way by its alleged allies. A whole generation of black children are being taught that only by begging and weeping and screaming will they get handouts from guilt-ridden whites. No message will more surely devastate their futures, especially if whites run out of guilt, or indeed if America runs out of whites. If this had been done to Japanese Americans, or Jewish Americans, or Chinese Americans, then Chinatown and Japantown would surely be no different to the roughest parts of Baltimore and East St. Louis today. The History department of UCB is now an integral institutional promulgator of a destructive and denigrating fallacy about the black race.

    I hope you appreciate the frustration behind this message. I do not support BLM. I do not support the Democrat grievance agenda and the Party’s uncontested capture of our department. I do not support the Party co-opting my race, as Biden recently did in his disturbing interview, claiming that voting Democrat and being black are isomorphic. I condemn the manner of George Floyd’s death and join you in calling for greater police accountability and police reform. However, I will not pretend that George Floyd was anything other than a violent misogynist, a brutal man who met a predictably brutal end.

    I also want to protect the practice of history. Cleo is no grovelling handmaiden to politicians and corporations. Like us, she is free.

  15. Plenty of people grumble about the police, including people with translucent skin. It’s just that people don’t protest, riot and burn down their cities over white victims. Or over most non-white victims, for that matter. Just every now and then when other factors come together.

    We’ve had the media, democratic party (same thing) and academia screaming about white supremacy and project 1619 and what not since the 2016 election. If you can’t win on policy, or Russia, or Impeachment or even COVID, then go back to basics and try non-stop screaming about racism. Then, after having everyone into a lock down for nearly three months, with constant media fear mongering, the video of a white cop killing a black man in a particularly cruel way (as if other ways aren’t cruel). Perfect fulfillment of the narrative, and it wasn’t some Hollywood actor pretend hate crime BS.

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