Unless you’ve been living under a very impressive rock – like a bad Brendan Fraser movie about people stuck in a bunker for decades – you know about this George Lloyd business. I’ve seen the video. If you haven’t, you should do so. It is pretty incriminating for the officers involved. I’ve never been much of a thin blue line kind of guy, but I definitely check out here. I know two very good friends who have been screwed over by exceptionally bad police overreach. Francis, over at Bastion of Liberty, surely knows one of them – he is a friend we have in common.
Police petty tyranny has been growing worse in recent years, and we add to that a certain tendency of some urban police departments to engage in soldier-LARPing behavior, well the problem only gets worse. Add to that the condition of various inner-city black communities, the current political climate of race-baiting social justice activism, and the fact that COVID-19 lockdowns have surely driven people mad with boredom and lack of social contact, and you have a perfect storm for this rioting behavior.
It’s hard to blame it on any one thing, save that the poor behavior of the officers in question surely struck a match and stuck it firmly in a powder keg of epic proportions. Personally, I am exhausted of this repeating cycle, which has been a thing since at least the early 90s and the Rodney King riots. Questionable police behavior (sometimes not really so bad, and other times absolutely inexcusably idiotic) leads to racial animus, which results in barbaric looting behavior. We’re all spiraling toward a singularity of stupid, the gravity pulling us deep into a descending orbit, too strong for any of us to escape.
Political rhetoric has become absolutely poisonous. Sure, it was bad in 2016, but this year it grows worse, and I grow weary of it. Every discussion even coming anywhere near a political point is liable to turn into a land mine. Friendships are breaking. Families are cracking. America is burning and creaking at the seams. I don’t know how much longer this dysfunctional system is going to continue to limp along. We may be witnessing its slow death. Or maybe we’ll bounce back again, and our country will be undone at some unspecified point in the future. It’s hard to say.
With the election approaching, I think it’s only going to get worse.
Sadly, I think underneath all the nuclear-level rhetoric, the unleashed ids, the emotional appeals and post-hoc rationalization, both sides of the American political spectrum are clutching a piece of the truth. I’m not sure how many people want to hear that, but I’ve become convinced that it is true. I posted the following summary on Twitter earlier:
- In general, policing has gone very bad in many ways.
- Black communities in most major cities suck.
- At least some of the suck is self-inflicted.
- I despair of any of that changing in the near future.
- We’ll be here again. And again
- Racial profiling is almost certainly a thing.
- It is not without some rational basis.
- Both facts poison interactions between cops and blacks.
- White liberal race-baiting doesn’t help.
- Neither does ‘thin blue line’ garbage.
- No political faction wants to tell the whole truth because it will piss off constituents who don’t want to hear it.
- Both major factions possess at least some components of the truth.
- I feel like some character in Battlestar Galactica. “All of this has happened before.”
The black communities in most major cities are littered with problems. Violence, crime rates, economic depression – you name it. Rightists are right about that. Leftists want to blame white racism, but that doesn’t hold up to investigation. Surely, even if Leftists believe racism to still be bad even they must acknowledge that it is far less bad than, say, the Jim Crow era. Why do these problems continue? Why do we see so little progress? I was rereading Larry Elder’s Ten Things You Can’t Say in America today after a debate with a Leftist on this subject, and it struck me how little had changed since then on matters of race, saving that acrimony continues to worsen. The same issues from 20 years ago are little changed today. What gives?
Police officers know this as well as anyone. Let’s be real, they certainly do racially profile (the Left is right about this); stereotypes about violent crime have a basis in fact, and cops know it. And, from the other direction, blacks certainly are inclined to see cops as the enemy, the attitude leaks into police interactions all the time. Combine those two factors, and the chances of an interaction going bad increase dramatically. And when that happens, prepare for protests that, likewise escalate in severity. Riots, looting, mob interactions – all intermingling with the still-peaceful (but emotional and crazy) main element – while the cops either stay on the sidelines as Rome burns, or escalate the situation even more themselves.
In some ways, it almost doesn’t matter that this particular policing incident really was bad. If it had been a legitimate death, it still had the potential to flare up into what we have today. We are at the point that any police interaction with the black community has the potential of blowing up into a national orgy of combined protest-riots. This one is the worst I’ve seen in my lifetime. There is a protest scheduled down the street from where I live tomorrow – it is likely they won’t bother my neighborhood (it is known that a lot of military folks live around here), but even the potential is strange to me. There were burnings and lootings all over Tampa Bay, especially in the University Mall/Temple Terrace area.
Tampa is not exactly a city known for rioting behavior. I cannot imagine how bad it must be in other major cities.
And we’re not even halfway through 2020 yet. The election looms over us, while the COVID-19 pandemic continues (and may be exacerbated by the riots – we don’t know yet), and political rhetoric has reached levels that make 2016 look like a picnic in the park. We may solve the police overreach issue – though I really doubt it, now – but the broader issue about any police interaction with the black community potentially triggering national riots remains no matter what might be done about that. I think we’re well beyond the ability to solve this in any constructive manner.
I’d like to be wrong. I’d like for someone to pour some water on this fire, to rein in police overreach, to deal with qualified immunity, poor recruiting, travesties like civil asset forfeiture, etc… I’d also like to take us back from 5 minutes until midnight on the racial rioting clock. But I doubt either will happen anytime soon.
Like I said, I feel like it’s an episode of Battlestar Galactica, and I’m reciting the catchphrase. All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again. Again. Again. Again…