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Race, Anger, Despair, & Frustration

A black reader leaves this comment on the Occidental witch hunt thread:

Good grief, video footage of a Chicago police officer shoots a kid 16 times is released, Donald Trump supporters beat up a BLM protester, a couple of white guys shoot up a peaceful BLM protest in MN, we approach the one year anniversary of a cop killing a TWELVE year old kid in a park with a toy, and you really think the most important race relations issue today is some kids complaining about the college environment. You really don’t get the anger, despair, & frustration of the black community do you???

Well, I might say in response, “You really don’t get the anger, despair, and frustration of the white community, do you?” And I would be half-serious, at least, though of course there is no “white community” per se on whose behalf I could claim to speak. But hear me out, because I think the question the reader asks is serious, and worth taking seriously.

I had planned to say something later today about the Chicago murder indictment of the white cop who shot that black teenager to death. From what information we have now, the indictment seems completely justified, and certainly necessary. No civilized society can have police officers doing these things. I want to see a fair trial and, if the cop is convicted, I want to see him justly punished.

Here’s the thing though: Chicago’s black neighborhoods are among the most deadly in the world. Black men killing black people, including earlier this month nine-year-old Tyshawn Lee, lured into an alley and executed in gang violence involving his father. In 2015, 80 percent of the murdered in Chicago were black, as were 70 percent of the assailants (of those homicides where the assailant is known).

Know how many of the assailants in 2015 gun deaths in Chicago were cops? Six percent. (N.B., we don’t know how many of those shootings were justified.)

Any unjustified shooting by a cop is wrong, and should be investigated, and if necessary, prosecuted. But to many white people, it looks like Black Lives Matter — only if the black life taken was done so by a cop, especially a white cop.

Chicago’s black neighborhoods are more dangerous than the rest of the world — yet the most important race-and-crime, life-and-death issue there is cop violence? Really?

In New Orleans on Sunday evening, a gun battle broke out on a playground (!) between two rival black gangs while a crowd of 500, including many children, who had gathered for an unauthorized filming of a music video. More:

“At the end of the day it’s really hard to police against a bunch of guys who decide to pull out guns and settle their disputes with 300 people between them,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu told reporters from the scene.

“What we need more than anything else is for witnesses to come forward and tell us what they saw,” NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison added. “There were hundreds of people in this park looking at this incident and we know they saw what happened.”

Police were on their way to the park to disperse the crowd — which had gathered without a permit — when the shootout began. So far, none of the gunmen have been apprehended.

All 16 victims were in stable condition early Monday morning. Their injuries included bullet wounds and graze wounds.

Police spokesman Tyler Gamble told the New York Times “there were two groups that were firing shots back and forth at each other, and then ran off after each other on foot.”

An updated story from the Times-Picayune:

The victims of this mass shooting? Black. The perpetrators? Black. Do their lives matter?

Another recent crime that has shocked the city: police are searching for a young black male suspect who shot a Tulane medical student in the stomach as the student tried to break up the alleged assailant kidnapping a woman on the street. Excerpt:

Euric Cain is wanted for attempted first-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping and armed robbery, the New Orleans Police Department said Sunday afternoon.

NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison gave an update on the shooting alongside Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans.

Peter Gold was shot in the stomach around 4 a.m. Friday near the intersection of St. Mary and Magazine streets, the NOPD said.

The NOPD said Gold was in the area when he witnessed a man identified as Cain dragging a woman to a nearby parked SUV.

Gold was shot after he attempted to stop Cain, who then pointed a gun at Gold and demanded money before shooting him, officials said. Cain attempted to shot him a second time, but the gun jammed and he fled the area in the SUV.

Gold is in his fourth year of his residency at Tulane. He was taken to a hospital to undergo surgery. He was listed in guarded condition during the most recent update.

Here is the security camera video of the black assailant shooting the Good Samaritan in the stomach. The only reason he didn’t execute him, as he clearly attempted to, was that his gun jammed:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_ruCR7f9wc?rel=0&w=525&h=330]

The cold-bloodedness of that crime has jolted the city. Gold, however, was unusual in that he was a white victim of attempted homicide. In New Orleans, if you are a victim of homicide or attempted homicide, you are overwhelmingly likely to be black, as is your killer.

Do those black lives matter? Do they matter to black college students and their non-black allies? Or is it just a hell of a lot easier to shake down guilt-ridden liberal college administrators for benefits that will do absolutely nothing to stop the killing within the black community, and the social destruction (especially family breakdown) that leads to it?

One reason I care so much about what’s happening at campuses is that it compromises the future of an institution — academia — that is vital to the health of American society. Plus, if this SJW culture spreads, it will make it harder for my own kids to get a college education. One nightmare scenario: one of my sons being accused of being racially (or otherwise) insensitive simply for asking a difficult or challenging question in class, and having his future ruined by a false and malicious accusation. This is not an abstract threat, as we are seeing.

I believe that African-Americans are right to be upset about police brutality, and to draw the attention of the rest of us Americans to its reality. And beyond police brutality, I’ve written how my work in the past two years has awakened me to aspects of race in America, and the legacy of white supremacy, that I didn’t see before, and which give me more understanding into why things are the way they are. So very many whites are blind to this truth, or too dismissive of it.

Yet what frustrates me to no end about all this is that it is considered impermissible to face the fact that blacks are not only victims, but also, in other contexts, victimizers — and the greatest victims are themselves. It’s as if the discussion of our complex, difficult racial past and present had to be a zero-sum game, in which there is only Good vs Evil — literally, black vs white.

That is simply not an accurate reflection of reality. What if both things are true: that police brutality is a continuing problem, as is the legacy of white supremacy, but the problems of black America today are also largely self-inflicted? Why can both not be true?

It seems to me that the search for truth and justice is for the most part not genuine, but rather an exercise in emotional and political manipulation, of white and black lying to ourselves and to each other. So yeah, there’s plenty of anger, frustration, and despair about race in America to go around. But some anger, frustration, and despair is recognized, indeed valorized, while its opposite is delegitimized, even demonized. “Truth” and “justice” become defined by what is useful to achieving political goals. You cannot expect people to do the right thing while at the same time denying their capacity for doing the right thing, and exempt yourself from doing your part to reach a solution. To many white people, it feels like a no-win situation, a set of conditions in which there is only one acceptable answer to any conceivable question: “Yes, I, as a white person, am wrong, and bad.” The campus activists only reinforce this dishonesty, this manipulation, this denial, and this inability to speak openly and honestly about a hideous problem that involves all of us in America.

This is hard. All of it.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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