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.