The other side as I imagine it


I say “as I imagine it” because I haven’t gone out of my way to investigate the views of the demonstrators, but then I didn’t go out of my way to investigate the views expressed in my previous post either. I simply write as someone who flatters himself as being a little more thoughtful, a little better informed, and a little more open to embracing unpopular opinions than the average person. That said, what I do know of the rationale of the demonstrators strikes me as case of demonstrating against a straw man rather than a reality. For instance, much was made of fact that the kid who was killed in Cleveland was only carrying a toy gun, but you look at his gun and tell me if it looks like a toy to you, much less to the cop whom it was pointed at and who had to decide in fraction of a second how to respond.

Even so, I consider it obvious that blacks don’t get an even break before the law. They receive longer prison sentences, are more likely to be executed, and are more likely to be busted for trivial offenses. Despite their gains in Civil Rights, they are still the victims of widespread white prejudice even among those whites who are say they aren’t prejudiced. For example, if you put pulse and respiration monitors on white people, and then place them on an elevator with black people, their pulse and respiration rises above what it would  if the elevator contained other white people, and this is true regardless of their expressed views on race.

Given the seeming universality of prejudice, it is only reasonable to believe that white cops are also prejudiced. Along with whatever prejudices they bring with them into law enforcement, they are often exposed to black people at their worse due the reality of the prevalence of black crime over white crime, and this increases their antipathy toward  black people. Good cops try not to act on such feelings, but they can’t help but have them just as I—and most of you who responded to my last post—can’t help but have them. The line between prejudice and reasonable fear isn’t always clear, but we still have a choice about how we behave.

For instance, I wrote recently about feeling repulsed by transsexuals. I would even say that I’m prejudiced against transsexuals, maybe the moreso because my father was one. Years ago,  a man in
women’s clothes arrived at a contra dance (a kind of folk dance that involves a lot of touching) that I attended. I didn’t know if he was a transsexual or a transvestite, but I assumed transsexual, so I’ll refer to him as a her. Contra dances involve a show of affection even toward strangers, but a chill came over the room when this woman entered. When I saw the coldness with which she was treated, I put extra effort into treating her well. This is how I often try to respond to prejudice within myself, so I’ve no doubt that a lot of white cops who are prejudiced put extra effort into treating black people as they themselves would like to be treated. Others not so much, and some are surely downright mean.
 

While I don’t doubt that black people have a greater reason than white people to fear the police, I think that black hatred for white people is evident among many of these demonstrators. If I thought the white society was giving me a raw deal, I would hate it too, but if I looted, burned, and called for any and every police officer to be murdered, I wouldn’t be working for justice but for revenge, the end result being a complete breakdown of law and order. Such a goal would most certainly alienate most people—whites and blacks—and it was this alienation that I felt when I wrote my last post.

21 comments:

Stephen Hayes said...

Like you've said, we all have prejudices. If I were on an elevator filled with Asians or Arabs I'm sure my pulse would register differently than if everyone on that elevator was white like me. I've felt this overseas when I was the minority, and can only conclude that this is part of the human experience. The best we can do is to try and prevent our tendency to be comfortable around our own kind from treating others poorly or with disrespect. Mark Twain suggested that travel was the best way to combat prejudice and ignorance, and he was probably right. Most of the truly prejudiced people I've encountered have never set foot outside the United States.

Elephant's Child said...

I suspect that most mobs intellect is reduced. Significantly. And their ethics.

Snowbrush said...

"Most of the truly prejudiced people I've encountered have never set foot outside the United States."

If that's true, then thank god I've been to Canada! Seriously, you know what they say about correlation not implying causation.

"I suspect that most mobs intellect is reduced. Significantly. And their ethics."

True, but still I wonder if mob behavior isn’t like alcoholic behavior in that what one thinks when drunk sometimes reflects what one believes when sober but is afraid to express.

Paula Kaye said...

I don't think being prejudiced is something we are born with. As a young child I grew up in a neighborhood that was smack in the middle of "colored town" as it was called back then. I didn't even recognize my neighbors were different until I was told that by my elders. For the most part, the black people I have encountered in my life have been no different than me. They have been law-abiding, hard working, up-standing human beings. But those are not the people who dominate the media now. It is the thugs. The gangsters. The rioters. The ones who are burning down their own neighborhood. The ones who are spurred on by those who love having the media right in their 'liberal' pockets. The likes of Al Sharpton and Jessee Jackson. These are the very people who are helping to shape my new opinions about black people. We tend to believe in what we see. Unfortunately I am not seeing a group of people who seem to want to clean up or change their images. Yes, I agree that if I were the only white lady in an elevator full of black men my heart rate would increase. In fact I am pretty sure I wouldn't stay on the elevator. If that is called being prejudice, so be it! And in speaking to Stephen, I have traveled all over the world. I don't know that it really helped to change my opinion. It is what I am seeing right here in my own country that is helping shape my opinion. I think before we can ever change attitudes in this country TWO things have to happen: First, white people have to stop feeling so superior and SECOND black people have to quit using the way they were treated hundreds of years ago as an excuse to continue to be the way they are. The races have to come together. I don't think I will see that happen in my lifetime.

kj said...

snow, i am still so upset about your last post that i won't even go back to read or reference it. i hope to calm down and i appreciate hearing from you.

i keep thinking that michael brown lay in the street uncovered for four hours. that would never happen in my neighborhood. i am sure of that. i think it's all too easy to objectify people and from that start justifying why people are treated differently.

i have worked in mostly black communities for several years. i was partnered with a black woman in my 20's and became part of her family. i have never experienced a 'white hatred' similar to the prejudice i've witnessed by whites against blacks. i do not condone rioting and property damage. but there is a problem with police inequality too often and it is wrong. what's to be done if not demonstrating outrage and that change is needed? blaming the demonstrators for the murder of two innocent police officers is the height of hypocrisy. how about we understand that the climate is dangerous all the way around and cooperate to solve it?

i am not going to read your commenters about this matter because i don't want to know who may or may not have what i consider even subtle racist beliefs.

i do appreciate that you've written this post and i recognize the effort to provide balance. i think i've just had it with things and people being black or white.

love
kj

kj said...

p.s. paula, i'm surprised: there are so many people of color who report our news and teach our children and drive our buses and police our neighborhoods. i don't see only thugs in the media and i hope you will not let a minority of a minority reshape what you have known to be true.




lotta joy said...

According to what I see and hear regarding unrest and the riots on the news, blacks seriously believe that if the facts don't support their claims, then change the facts. It is by their own hatred of all things white that they will bring into action exactly what they are pushing for: retaliations FROM whites, so they can claim righteous vindication for killing whites.

Recently at the grocery store, two black women with a black child in the cart, started fighting over wasting money on food when they wanted that money to go for manicures. There ensued an actual food fight with milk cartons and yogurt being thrown at each other as customers departed, and the mess was left for clerks to clean up. NO sense of propriety, manners, or even an attempt of respectful behavior.

Linda said...

Everyone is prejudiced. If all things were equal and I were judging a beauty pageants of little girls, I would prefer a dark little white girl with almost-black, hair in curls would be the winner. However, if I deliberately made things difficult for the other little girls, especially the little blondes, I would be demonstrating an action akin to racism.

It is not wrong for anyone to prefer people like themselves. It is human nature. The act of thwarting the "other's" plans by changing rules, etc., is what is wrong.

If I were on an elevator with all white men, this white woman would be very uncomfortable. I want to avoid harassment or worse.

A Black man said he was walking down the street and heard footsteps behind him, gaining on him. As he turned to see who was overtaking him, he was ashamed because he was relieved it was a white man. This story illustrates how vulnerable we all are to racism. I think the man was MLK, maybe not. But it was a name you would recognize.

Charles Gramlich said...

I noticed many years ago that I put a lot more effort into being friendly to folks that I had some prejudice about from my upbringing. Eventually I came to realize that this was itself a form of separate treatment and I actually try hard to be neutral toward all folks outside of those who are my friends.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Well said Snowy!

Snowbrush said...

"I don't think being prejudiced is something we are born with.”

I agree, but does that mean it’s something we learn or something we acquire as a result of a growing awareness of boundaries that comes with maturation? For instance, babies don’t even know where their bodies end, and it seems possible that prejudice could come as a result of an increasing awareness of separation between that which is "like me" and that which is not "like me.” One’s family and society no doubt contributes heavily. but my guess is that they exaggerate prejudice rather than create it. After all, handicapped kid will be treated differently by his/her peers even if they’ve never been inoculated with prejudice against the handicapped.

"i keep thinking that michael brown lay in the street uncovered for four hours. that would never happen in my neighborhood.”

I wonder why this particular scene keeps replaying in your mind given the many sad things that have happened. Anyway, the police chief apologized for it, but the family didn’t accept his apology, although I don’t know why as it certainly sounded sincere. I agree that the prolonged delay in moving the corpse might well have been the result of racism, but it’s a leap to say that, for example, Eric Garner’s death from a chokehold was racism, or that the kid who was killed when he pointed a toy gun at a cop was a victim of racism, because how would one know, and in the latter instance, wouldn't it be absurd to say that cops are less likely to shoot white people who point guns at them than they are to shoot black people who point guns at them? Worst of all in my mind, Obama assumes racism in cases that haven’t even been investigated, and I consider his remarks racist and irresponsible to the point of recklessness. No matter his race, he’s the president, and when he pretends to know more than anyone can know, he’s running the risk of inspiring people to behave destructively.

"blaming the demonstrators for the murder of two innocent police officers is the height of hypocrisy”

When you have demonstrators chanting, “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!” and a week later two cops are murdered, it certainly seems possible that at least some demonstrators are spouting rhetoric that might have inspired those deaths. (Here in Oregon, a Klan leader was found guilty for inciting murder by remarks that were less direct than those: http://articles.latimes.com/1995-01-22/news/mn-23080_1_tom-metzger). That said, demonstrators are a diverse lot. I stopped going to local anti-war demonstrations because I didn’t like what I saw as a dominant tone of hatred for the government rather than a striving for peace, and it’s this dominant tone that I had reference to in criticizing the recent protests against the police. I see these demonstrators' core problem as a lack of leadership because even if some people were misbehaving, a strong leader could define the protests, but in the lack of one, what we have are grievous misbehaviors combined with destructive remarks by irresponsible people. Maybe the demonstrators will nonetheless have positive results on policing, but when I wrote my last post, I expected to be attacked, yet you were the only one who even disagreed. Of course, some readers might have simply kept silent, but still, it looks like I’m far from being the only one who is looking upon these protests with a jaundiced eye.

Snowbrush said...

"i have never experienced a 'white hatred' similar to the prejudice i've witnessed by whites against blacks.”

I simply don’t know if this is generally true, but if it is, I would wonder why a race that was stomped upon for hundreds of years wouldn’t hate their oppressors more than their oppressors hate them. I think of the hatred of theists for atheists, and how it really does appear to exceed the atheist hatred for theists, and I wonder about that too. I think it could be that, when you’re in the minority, you simply don’t have the resources to hate the majority as intensely as they hate you because by hating them, you would be too alienated from too many people, people who far outnumber you. In the interest of survival, minorities have to be accommodationists to an extent that the majority doesn’t. If I hate black people, it will affect my life far less than if black people hate me because people who look like me are everywhere, and people who look like them aren’t.

“I am not going to read your commenters about this matter because i don't want to know who may or may not have what i consider even subtle racist beliefs.”

So you won’t think as poorly of them as you do of me? I’m glad you’re still here anyway because it’s so easy for people to go their reading list and delete bloggers they disagree with, but at the same time, it seems—to me--that you’re being a bit insulatory in dismissing people’s thoughts by labeling those people as racist. For one thing, a person can be “subtly racist” and still be right regarding a given point. For another, I believe we’re all racist, so to elevate yourself above those whom you regard as racist would seem to deny the existence of such qualities within yourself. You might argue that you don’t have a racist bone in your body, but even if this is true, you surely regard some groups as less deserving of affection, respect, and equality—at least within your own thoughts--than other groups. For example, you seem to think very poorly of those you regard as racist, yet that includes just about everyone. I’ve heard people quip that they were prejudiced against people who were prejudiced as if they were proud of being exclusionary, yet these same people often talk of the oneness of all people, the importance of love as a guiding principal, and so forth.

Snowbrush said...

“I noticed many years ago that I put a lot more effort into being friendly to folks that I had some prejudice about from my upbringing. Eventually I came to realize that this was itself a form of separate treatment.”

I have no such qualms because if I went to the pains you do to get it right, I would end up tied into a ball. My solution is to treat those whom I’m prejudiced against the way I think I should treat all people but don’t simply because I’m no lover of the human race and therefore don’t have the energy to put into treating everyone respectfully as human beings rather than as objects that can either advance or hinder some private goal. I don’t mean that I’m rude because I almost never am, but at the same time, I nearly always keep my guard up and maintain an emotional distance between myself and others.

Paula Kaye said...

I usually do not like to do this on another person's blog but I have to comment to KJ since she so 'nicely' left a comment especially for me. This is what I said, "But those are not the people who dominate the media now. It is the thugs. The gangsters. The rioters. The ones who are burning down their own neighborhood. The ones who are spurred on by those who love having the media right in their 'liberal' pockets. The likes of Al Sharpton and Jessee Jackson. These are the very people who are helping to shape my new opinions about black people." As I said these are who I am seeing dominating the news media NOW. And that is what I am basing my feelings on.
There are a LOT of people in those crowds wanting to kill cops. I don't know that I would call them the minority of the minority. Did you even listen or watch the video KJ?

Snowbrush said...

"Did you even listen or watch the video KJ?"

I wondered that too because why ARE people quick to demonstrate so hatefully against a cop killing a black (a killing that there’s no reason to believe was racially inspired) and so painfully silent when it comes to the thousands upon thousands of instances of blacks shooting blacks? However, KJ probably won’t read your comment: "i am not going to read your commenters about this matter because i don't want to know who may or may not have what i consider even subtle racist beliefs.” It’s obviously a very a charged issue for her. I know it is for you and me too, but we would both like to hear more about her thoughts, whereas the opposite doesn't appear to be true. Having labeled us as racist, she can't dismiss everything we have to say without even knowing what it is.

Paula Kaye said...

"i am not going to read your commenters about this matter because i don't want to know who may or may not have what i consider even subtle racist beliefs.

And yet, after saying that, she posted a comment to me!! Hmmm....

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello, greetings.

People living in South Africa, both black and white, have no problem. So why should Americans have this problem of living peacefully. This is a mindset and it could be changed and efforts in this direction should be made primarily by the government.

The poor blacks should be given free education, free uniform, free food in school etc. They should also be given some concession in marks for getting admission in universities. In short the government can do many things to uplift the economically poor black children so that they stay away from drugs, robbery, murder etc.

It will take years to bring about a transformation in the outlook of blacks and whites but it is worth the effort for everlasting peace and removing this feeling of hatred among blacks and whites.

Best wishes

Snowbrush said...

Joe, welcome back.

"People living in South Africa, both black and white, have no problem."

I had to Google that, and what I found suggests that the legacy of apartheid is very much alive in SA, with the whites—many of whom live in the country—being scared to death of the blacks—most of whom live in poverty in the cities—and that black crime is a major problem. If you have any sources, I would love to see them.

"The poor blacks should be given free education, free uniform, free food in school etc.”

After their first twelve years, no one in America gets free education, although a lot of students get free food during their first twelve years. No one in public schools wears uniforms either.

"They should also be given some concession in marks for getting admission in universities.”

They do under a program called Affirmative Action, but it isn’t so popular as it formerly was. As one site reports: "Many minorities and women continue to support Affirmative Action, but a growing number of them are admitting that the benefits may no longer be worth its side effect: the perception that their success is unearned… By requiring corporations and contracting businesses to exercise special consideration for minorities and women in their hiring practices, the end result has sometimes been a less experienced or qualified workforce, resulting in a decreased ability to compete against less racially diverse corporations." (http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1970.html)

kj said...

Snow, that 12 yo you mention with a toy gun: the call to the police mentioned it may have been a toy gun; the boy lay unassisted by the officers for four minutes, his hysterical sister was handcuffed and not allowed near him. He could have been tasered but he was shot and killed immediately. This is not an isolated event. Another kid at a gas station was told to get out of the car and raise his hands. When he moved his hands to raise them the officer killed him.

We who have more power can boycott, create sanctions, mobilize. My heart goes out to the two felled police officers and my impatience and sustain for the black community 's inability to get its act together is well known, but the inequality of police treatment is a fact. Not everywhere, but it happens too often to be isolated

I refer to a dead body left in a community street because that is not the country I was lucky enough to be raised in. It saddens me that you see justice when the aggregate of circumstance point otherwise. George Zimmerman stalked that boy and killed him. And then was acquited for feeling threatened.

Enough.

Snowbrush said...

"Snow, that 12 yo you mention with a toy gun…”

Of all the examples of supposedly racist shootings, this struck me as the most bizarre because the gun certainly looked real, and it was certainly pointed at the cop, so to call him racist implies that if a white kid points a gun at a cop, the cop will say to himself, “Oh, it’s a sweet little white child, so far better for me to die than to shoot the poor little tyke,” whereas if a black kid points a gun at a cop the cop will say to himself, “Oh, happy day, I get to kill myself a nigger.” I mean, does anyone really and truly believe that cops shoot some people who point guns at them but not others, or is this just an example of the common belief on the part of demonstrators that every time a cop shoots a black person, it’s because the cop is racist?

"the call to the police mentioned it may have been a toy gun”

To me, my dear friend, this is another example of thinking that absolutely astounds me. The caller first said that the kid was pointing a gun a people, and he then said that it might be a toy gun. So, here you have some unknown caller who knows nothing but what he is seeing, and speculates for unknown reasons (perhaps, the age of the kid, or perhaps the fact that he wasn’t actually killing people) that the gun might be a toy, so the argument is what? That the cop should have known it was a toy? That although it looked like a real gun to the cop, he should have held his fire because some unknown caller didn’t know for sure what it was? The burden that the demonstrators place upon police to always know exactly what to do in the split second that they have to decide is unrealistic. If you Google "cops who kill kids with toy guns," I don’t know if you would find that cops kill more black kids than white kids, but I doubt it, because the fact is that if you point what looks like a real gun at a cop, the cop would be a moron if he or she didn’t shoot you.

"the boy lay unassisted by the officers for four minutes, his hysterical sister was handcuffed and not allowed near him.”

I can imagine reasons for these things, but I won’t speculate unless you especially want me to. Suffice it to say that even if a mistake occurred, I see no reason to assume that it wouldn’t have occurred if the kids had been white. In other words, it’s not at all evident to me that race played any factor in this or almost any other SPECIFIC incident.

"He could have been tasered but he was shot and killed immediately.”

Tasers are one shot, only good at close range (the length of the leads), don’t always keep a person down, and don’t work well against people who are wearing jackets. Guns shoots many times, are good at a distance, will go right through a jacket, and have good knock-down power even if the bullet doesn’t hit a non-lethal part of the body. Why, then, would you consider a Taser a good alternative?

"Another kid at a gas station was told to get out of the car and raise his hands. When he moved his hands to raise them the officer killed him.”

I know nothing about this.

"the inequality of police treatment is a fact.”

I accept that this is true. Did you watch the video of the police chief? He goes into this. If you haven’t seen it, please do.

Snowbrush said...

Read all about it:

"Those who go into law enforcement typically do it because they have a desire to shoot minorities.”

attributed to Hardin County, Kentucky Sheriff John Ward

http://mattalltrades.blogspot.com/2015/01/stupid-newspaper-proof-readers-slimes.html