“No justice, no peace!” they shout. Then they break windows. It makes me furious.
But then I watch the video of the Minneapolis cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, while Floyd repeatedly says, “I can’t breathe,” and three other officers just watch.
Then I see the video of the woman in Central Park calling 911, claiming, “An African-American man is threatening me!” But that was a racist lie. Christian Cooper just asked her to leash her dog. We’re supposed to leash our dogs in that section of Central Park. But Amy Cooper didn’t leash her dog. She frantically called 911, claiming she was under threat. She knew that by telling the police “an African American man is threatening me,” she’d probably get a more aggressive response. The left-wing New Yorker (she donated to Democratic campaigns) was careful to use that pointless, yet politically correct, term for black. Even though she’s a racist.
Watching things like that should help me sympathize with the people rioting last night.
So should my friend Fabian’s experience. When Fabian was 20, he bought his first car, a luxury edition Infiniti J30 Sedan. He’d saved up for it working as an airplane technician, transporting U.S. soldiers to war zones around the world.
Then, while pumping gas back in NYC, police officers approached him, demanding his license and registration.
He produced the documents and showed them that the car was registered in his name. But Fabian is black, and the police would not believe that the car belonged to him. They arrested him and charged him with grand theft auto.
He sat in jail for two days.
Finally, a judge dismissed the case — using the same documentation Fabian had showed the police. They released him — without any apology.
The trauma still haunts him. Fabian says it evokes a sense of helplessness — a fear that “anytime there’s an encounter with law enforcement, getting arrested or even death could be the outcome.”
Yet, as I watch protesters (even two lawyers were arrested) throwing Molotov cocktails at police officers, and I see opportunistic young people looting stores, and my privileged left-wing white friends say things like, “the looting of our society by unrestrained capitalism is worse!” I get even more furious.
This country, and capitalism, has done more good things for disadvantaged people of (SET ITAL)all(END ITAL) races than any society, ever.
Fabian, despite his terrible experience, says that living as a black man in America is a gift. He came here as a teen from Jamaica. America, he says, gave him opportunity he would never have had elsewhere.
Now, he’s a capitalist who owns things. He smiles as he says he sees “a cultural black renaissance: promotion of black education, ownership, and acquiring assets as a top priority.”
America, he says, is the land of opportunity.
Even if some cops are racist bullies.
Yet, so much that is exceptional about America is drowned out by the loudest voices on the extremes.
On one side, we have an “unraveling” president, as George Will puts it, an angry bully “banging his spoon on his highchair…”
On the other side are the leftists who defend the violence and looting, like the masked antifa children who want to destroy capitalism.
On Twitter, I watched video of a group driving around in a Mercedes-Benz, passing out bricks (for protesters to throw). I applaud the young black woman who called them “stupid” and tossed the brick back into their car, yelling: “This white b—- giving a group of black men a brick to throw! You know that s— could get them killed!”
It could. No one wins in these clashes.
I assume there is less racism in America than there once was, but there’s no way to prove that. Even if there were, Malcolm X wrote, “If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress.”
But I think that’s the wrong way to think about it.
George Floyd’s killer was arrested and other cops who abused their power were fired. In the past, police officers were never prosecuted.
For years in America, the percentage of interracial marriage has steadily increased. That suggests progress.
Burning police stations and looting stores won’t speed that progress. It sets us back.