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May 28, 2020


The question came up courtesy of Matthew Yglesias before Covid hit. Consider the vast women’s march in the first year of Trump. Why not more? I speculate, of course, but I think things changed after the neo-nazis came to Charlottesville. That doesn’t mean people are less committed i think. Just that they are less willing to be murdered by gun toting loonies. And there seem to be rather a lot of ammosexuals about.

It's not every day that we get to watch someone being murdered. Police thuggery like this has probably always gone on but now there's a pest with a camera and we can't look away or deny reality. We identify far more with a single person than nameless thousands, especially when the agent of death is a fellow human being, in a position of authority, as opposed to a virus which is an equal opportunity agent of death. That said, these horrendous crimes seem always to provide cover for looters and crazies to go on the rampage. There is no righteous excuse for this level of violent response, but maybe the police should sort their own house out, so that these hooligans don't have a reason.

I don’t know, but on some level, I suspect that covid, Trump, and Floyd’s murder have all combined to contribute to the unrest we’re seeing. Covid has disproportionately killed black Americans, laying clear the racial injustice in our country, and of course this has been met with silence by Trump. Floyd’s death, as a horrifically undeniable symbol of systemic racism, may be the spark that finally blew up the powder keg. It often takes a single, isolated event of such unspeakable brutality to move people to collectively act. Add to the fact that Americans are extremely stressed out already by the covid crisis. According to recent census data, one third of Americans are presenting symptoms of clinical depression and/or anxiety.

And good Lord, what were these Minneapolis police thinking here?:

Because there is one Hell of a difference between murder in the second degree, and manslaughter in the second degree. Because there is one Hell of a difference between a white middle class perspective, and an African-American perspective.

I think because this is a redux of Eric Garner. A repeat of every black man who isn't safe in his own country. When black Americans watch that tape and hear "I can't breathe" they see themselves. This death echoes centuries of history where being black made you 3/5 of a human to some in authority.

This has been their pandemic for centuries. Always the threat of it. All due respect, but I think it's a mistake to conflate the virus with FLoyd's death.

I don't think the lynching of Floyd provides cover for looters and crazies to go on a rampage. It is rage driving the violence. What should the oppressed do when the state forces murder them again and again, and nothing ever happens to the murderers?

At what point is it okay for the oppressed to fight back? Sooner or later oppression does provide a righteous excuse. Were not the Jews in Warsaw justified in fighting back against the nazis?

I understand the rage. If I was black and young I would be in the streets burning anything and everything white. I think there are righteous excuses for violence and I'm way past my line. I know it does not help and I know that in many ways I am only hurting my own community but I don't care any more. I am enraged and I am going to do something.

What do you suggest?

Not conflating the two so much as recognizing that covid has increased our collective stress past the breaking point so that our reactions to terrible events are that much more intensified.

Oh no doubt, Jason. The stress for all Americans is a pandemic in itself.

But I think that for Black Americans they reached the breaking point long ago and still managed to hang on. I think they don't want to hang on anymore. They're in a special kind of hell that only they can truly express. It's proprietary. I just hope they know how many of us white Americans know that they're absolutely justified in their outrage.

Absolutely. Hell, I don’t want to just hang on anymore either. Racism should be personal for all of us, but my son is black and so this shit gets particularly real for my family. I’m furious and scared and all of that, but already I wasn’t in the best place mentally due to covid and Trump and this seemingly never-ending pit of despair America is in. I suspect a lot of us are feeling that way, and so some civil unrest is no surprise to me.

You mention your black son - this morning I was listening to Eugene Robinson talk about "the talk" he'd had to have with son re handling himself around police. As if that weren't sad enough, the interviewer, Joe Scarborough, brought it up in relation to another black man's death where Eugene had talked about it in the past, but neither man could immediately remember which death it was. Eugene just looked sad. And angry. I felt sick.

God, things have got to get better.

Just to toss it out. One of my favorite musicians was Doc Watson. And he sang this little song which kind of sums up the feeling I think a lot of us are feeling these days:

Yep, as a white guy I didn’t even know about “the talk” until social media began to bring anti-black police violence to the forefront of my conscious (and conscience). Now I rehearse it in my head regularly.

He's been arrested, Jason. They arrested Chauvin. I just read it.

You have to, and kudos to you. Talk to just about any African American man, certainly any over the age of 60, and if you start to say, "I know as a kid your parents drilled into you, 'When the police stop you, and they will stop you, you make sure...'" and before you can finish he will turn up his hands. I think it was my first exposure to white privilege that resonated

Yes, conflating the two is quite misguided.

A white knee on a black neck until death. I can't think of a more powerful image to symbolize hundreds of years of violent racism in America

I hope they know how many of us white Americans know that they're absolutely justified in their outrage too. While watching CNN last night and again this morning, I noticed many white faces in the crowds of protesters in every city. Now that there is a video camera in every hand, these murders can't be conveniently explained away anymore. People are just sick of this shit.

Good that they arrested him. Now it’s about prosecuting and sentencing him. If he somehow gets off free like all the other cops so far, this nation will justifiably lose its shit.

I saw a bit from a CNN thingy that the charging documents pointed to Floyd's "underlying hypertension and coronary artery disease" and etc. They're already going to try to put in place an out and that 9 minutes with the cop's knee on his neck didn't kill him. I'll lay you a wager that they're going to be so used to their usual stunt working that they'll let Chauvin go. He'll be fired and that will be it and they'll expect it to be business as usual. I want to be wrong. Because I believe you are right.

I have no idea, no suggestions, just observations which are always personal. I do think that there are always some restless youth spoiling for a fight, looking for opportunity. In my misspent youth, I encountered a few and they were always looking for a cause. The freedom to do this comes as a gift from a free society, which will be the first casualty of this general state of chaos.

The Jews didn't really fight back. Certainly not in timely fashion because they're not naturally warlike people. Wild generalisation, I acknowledge. Never mind, they've honed their skills and are now more warlike than anybody else. That's not great either.

Can I just be a normal Anglo/Irish woman who lives in a nice house with a large garden? If not, why not? That's the problem. We all watch the news and to a large extent it's not anything to do with us...far too remote. If there's one thing that this coronavirus has achieved it's the sense that we are all vulnerable, even though some of us are at at more risk than others.

I understand rage in an academic way. I've seen deprivation up close. If I were black I'd probably be throwing stones but that's just my nature. These days, I do it metaphorically.

I'm sorry for the tone of my previous post. Of course you are right about the crowd violence, but we cannot allow the story to be framed that way. That is always the way black protests end. I can remember when Black Panthers had their organization infiltrated to the same intent.

The only issue is that people who look like me have been killing black and brown people all my life and I am sick and tired of it. I am sick and tired of being complicit. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.

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