DISCLAIMER: Views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publication.
The riots over the death of George Floyd have reached dangerous proportions. Firstly, I would like to say that, even supposing the “racism” narrative of Floyd’s death to be true (and it may be—at this point we don’t know), his death does not justify even one instance of the crazy pan-national looting we have witnessed this past week.
Secondly, I would like to point out that we don’t actually know for sure that Floyd was murdered or, if he was, that it was racially induced. The MN prosecutor cautioned that there is evidence both for and against the police officers and that it is by no means certain that actual murder was involved OR that it had anything to do with race. We do know that Floyd resisted arrest. It is true that a new autopsy has proved that George Floyd did die of asphyxiation, though one doctor has added that there were potential “intoxicants” in Floyd’s system and underlying health issues (obviously unknown to the police) which contributed to Floyd’s death.
Certainly, in this case, the police officer kneeling on Floyd appeared to do wrongly and must be investigated and held responsible if guilty. But there is no direct evidence yet that this was a race-based murder, and certainly no evidence that it was a first-degree murder (i.e. premeditated). We do not know exactly what circumstances led up to Floyd’s arrest, what he did to occasion the extreme reaction from the police officer, and we have no definite proof that the policeman was acting from racism. I think both conservatives and leftists (even those who are not rioting) have assessed the situation with extravagant emotion—to die by asphyxiation is horrible, but it is wrong for the mob to constitute themselves as judge, jury, and executioner. Before we hasten to the figurative or literal lynching of anyone, we should recall that it is for an excellent reason that American jurisprudence is founded on the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” Of course, Leftism is emotional in nature and many conservatives are terrified of being labeled “insensitive” or “intolerant” and thus try to adopt the leftist premise before making their own argument. We all need to be less emotional and more rational—and no, that does not at all preclude personal sympathy for bereaved families.
If you are emotionally fired up about murder and destruction of lives, however, a black federal officer, Patrick Underwood, was murdered by rioters in Oakland, CA while trying to act as a peacemaker. I suppose that his life meant nothing—his family’s sorrow is irrelevant. . .a black man, a good, hard-working citizen (not a criminal resisting arrest), a man trying to control the violence and hatred of the riots, whose life is a sacrifice on the altar of uncontrolled, unjustified, and ignoble human passions, a sacrifice on the altar of the insatiable media thirst for the blood of their opponents. We know for certain that his death was murder, but where is the outcry against his murderers? Then there is the black small business owner, who is shown on a video watching rioters burn down his store while he yells desperately that he’s from the ghetto too; “I worked too hard for this!” The rioters didn’t care, of course. They don’t really care for individual human lives—this is all about a mob mentality, the intoxication of being strong enough to destroy and kill and the self-righteousness of feeling such actions justified.
In any case, as I said before, whether the police officers really did murder Floyd or not, and whether or not racism was involved, the crazy, Bolshevik-like riots now occurring are not justified and they bring forward a sobering and urgent fact to our attention. Businesses have suffered massive damage or been entirely burned down, people have been killed or injured, police across the country have suffered hostility and violence, and historic monuments have been vandalized or burned. Minneapolis is burning, Southern California is going up in flames, a police officer was shot in his car, small businesses owned by struggling Americans from the ghetto have been relegated to charred shells, police stations and cars have been lit on fire and vandalized, protestors have seriously injured each other . . and, meanwhile, George Soros is funding Antifa, which has been organizing and extending the rioting so as to maximize the damage, causing President Donald Trump and Attorney General Barr to label Antifa a domestic terrorist organization. Even George Floyd’s brother has called for a stop to the rioting and looting.
What is happening in our country? How is it that we have reached a point where people across the nation think they are justified in killing innocent people and destroying millions of dollars of public and private property because of a possible act of racism in one city by four police officers? I don’t remember ANY media excitement or organized protests when a young black male, Sheldon Francis, used a rifle to assassinate an octogenarian white couple he didn’t know at a cemetery. I haven’t noticed any widespread concern over the fact that more black people are murdered yearly than Latinos and whites combined—because these black victims are murdered by fellow black men. I don’t remember any news site but PragerU ever prominently posting the information that a police officer (of any color—we seem to forget that police officers aren’t all white) is 18 ½ times more likely to be shot by a black man than an unarmed black man is to be shot by a police officer. The reality, of course, is that the main-stream media are interested only in incidents that allow them to promote the narrative of America’s racism and which they can use to gin up civil discord and hatred between various groups.
I am not saying racism does not exist. Racism against white people is obviously growing greater all the time, and I am not going to deny that there are serious cases of racism against black people. Even in a country with such high ideals as America, people sin, people have irrational prejudices. But each and every one of us, of any skin color, should be outraged that we are expected to think and act in herds based on these same irrational prejudices. I was raised to believe in a color-blind society. I was raised to believe that every single man and woman is capable of thinking and acting independently, of analyzing given situations and narratives and then acting only after this logical assessment. I still feel my heart leap every time I hear Martin Luther King Jr.’s eloquent expression of hope that someday his children, and all children, “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Booker T. Washington, born a slave, addressed the Republican Club of New York in 1909 on the life of Abraham Lincoln. In this magnificent and too little recognized speech, Washington says, “Knit into the life of Abraham Lincoln is the story and success of the nation in the blending of all tongues, religions, colors, races into one composite nation, leaving each group and race free to live its own separate social life, and yet all a part of the great whole.” He adds, “As an individual, grateful as I am to Lincoln for freedom of body, my gratitude is still greater for freedom of soul — the liberty which permits one to live up in that atmosphere where he refuses to permit sectional or racial hatred to drag down, to warp and narrow his soul.”
Washington speaks enthusiastically of how his fellow blacks at the turn of the century are obtaining property, educations, skills, new freedoms. He is hopeful that racism with be overcome in America. Yet, he warns, the interior chains are far worse than the exterior chains. Hatred of other men, for any reason, is what is most to be feared, is what is most likely to retard the progress of black Americans. Yes, and hatred of America as a whole—that is dangerous too, because it is America that will allow black men and women to reach their full potential.
“In any country, regardless of what its laws say, wherever people act upon the idea that the disadvantage of one man is the good of another, there slavery exists. . . . In abolishing slavery, Lincoln proclaimed the principle that, even in the case of the humblest and weakest of mankind, the welfare of each is still the good of all . . . he freed men’s souls from spiritual bondage. . . . Henceforth no man of any race, either in the North or in the South, need feel constrained to fear or hate his brother. . . By the same act that freed my race, he said to the civilized and uncivilized world that man everywhere must be free, and that man everywhere must be enlightened, and the Lincoln spirit of freedom and fair play will never cease to spread and grow in power till throughout the world all men shall know the truth, and the truth shall make them free.”I wish that every American would read Booker T. Washington’s speech in full and take his words to heart. Perhaps never before have we needed so much his reminder of what really disadvantages people of color, of what racism does not just to the body but to the soul. 620,000 men, white and black, died in the Civil War—for what? Shall we allow the Democrats to win, to divide us by telling us we are enemies rather than brothers, to tell us that our skin color is our most defining factor, that we are incapable of seeing each other as individual human beings and not merely faceless members of a certain group? I believe that Booker T. Washington best expressed the pledge that I hope may be breathed with equal sincerity from the hearts of members of every race and ethnicity in America, “Gathering inspiration and encouragement from this hour and Lincoln’s life, I pledge to you and to the nation that my race, in so far as I can speak for it, which in the past, whether in ignorance or intelligence, whether in slavery or in freedom, has always been true to the Stars and Stripes and to the highest and best interests of this country, will strive to so deport itself that it shall reflect nothing but the highest credit upon the whole people in the North and in the South.”