Monday, December 15, 2014

Thoughts on Some Racial News

Three black effigies were found hanging on the campus of UC Berkeley over the weekend. Perhaps this was the work of cruel, thoughtless, stupid bigots, but given the number of incidents staged by blacks to make whites look bad over the years we shouldn't automatically assume that it was the work of bigots, nor should we be surprised if it turns out that the perpetrators of this incident were themselves African-American students, trying either to make it appear as if it were done by white racists or trying to make a political statement about being black in America.

Also over the weekend thousands of people took to the the streets of New York and other cities to protest the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and others by police. It's good every now and then to protest excessive use of force by government agents, and to demand that they not use more force than a situation warrants, but I wonder when we'll start seeing huge demonstrations on behalf of the dozens of police who are murdered every year by killers, many (most?)of whom are black. Or doesn't anyone care about the lives of police officers?

Even as the African American community expresses it's outrage at the death of Eric Garner, black kids continue to die by the hundreds at the hands of other black kids in cities across our nation, and no one is organizing protest marches on behalf of these anonymous young men. Why is that? Do "all black lives matter" or do only politically expedient black lives matter? Do all lives matter or do police officers' lives not matter?

Reading the news about these protests, and reflecting on the relative silence when a black man is killed by another black man, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that at least some of the people who are venting their rage are angry not so much because black men have died but because these black men died at the hands of white men. If so, one wonders why. It is, after all, far less likely that a black man in the United States will die at the hands of a white man than that a white man will die at the hands of a black man.

Maybe you think I'm missing the point. Maybe you think that the protests are in fact directed against the kind of police brutality and overreaction on display in the Eric Garner case. I'm sure this is what animates many, maybe most, of the protestors, but ask yourself a hypothetical question: Do you think that there would be any organized protests at all, any media coverage at all, had Michael Brown and Eric Garner been white, or, alternatively, had the cops who killed them been black?

Neither do I.