Racism and the Current Troubles

The recent beatification of the late George Floyd of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the sins committed in his name, have prompted me to prepare a few comments on the issues of race, crime, history, and the current political insanity. Let me begin by describing some of my experiences in Durham, North Carolina, living and working at the racial crossroads.

After leaving my chosen profession as an organic chemist, perhaps too hastily, I required some means of supporting myself and thus discovered the joys of simple work. And while clerking in the dry-cleaning-and-laundry business, I was twice confronted by armed black males seeking my employer’s dollars. The first time, I surrendered them, but the second time, resentment overcame fear. I refused to surrender, and led the robber on a spirited chase around the laundry, stopping to throw one or two butt cans at him. His partner-in-crime came inside to help persuade me to fork over. But at last, they tired of their quest and departed.

On another occasion, I witnessed an especially cruel theft of a woman’s handbag. Two black males knocked a white woman down, one of them grabbed her hand bag, and both men ran away, disappearing in the Walltown section of Durham. The woman was left lying on the sidewalk with a bleeding knee.

Much earlier, while I was still married and living in a pleasant split-level house, a tragedy struck a white family living nearby. One of its members, a young man, had arranged to buy a car from a gentleman of color. The young man withdrew the agreed-upon amount from the bank, but never completed the exchange. Instead, the would-be seller took him to a spot in East Durham, tied him to a tree, shot him, and escaped with the money. The murder took place during the Christmas season, and a normally joyous time was made sad for many people. The black murderer was never apprehended.

Recently, while walking south of downtown, I came upon a mud puddle on the sidewalk and stepped into the street to avoid it. As I stood waiting for traffic to pass, one car veered from the center of the road and drove straight at me, fast and furious. It had plenty of room to pass, yet continued in my direction, until, at the last second, I jumped aside. Then the car stopped long enough for its young black occupants to grin at me, and rode away, turning toward Durham’s West End neighborhood.

But suppose the car had hit and killed me? Would the incident have caused much concern? No—it would have been written off as just another Durham hit-and-run, with perhaps a single mention on TV news. I would hardly suggest that my hide was of special importance to mankind, though my right to that hide is very important indeed. I would point out that interracial crimes in which the victim is white must involve acts of special cruelty and cowardice to gain widespread attention. One such crime was the cruel murder of standout UNC student Eve Carson by two young black males from Durham’s West End. I suspect she symbolized everything her killers had come to despise, and everything Antipha and their campus boosters presently despise. She died because of her virtues, and today she’s likely forgotten for the same reason. And yet, once a year, we read some reference to Emmett Till.

Many words have been written and spoken denouncing “racism” and “racist cops” and our “systemic racism,” “capitalist racism,” and that old stand-by, “white supremacy.” True racist doctrine, the theory that a particular race is inherently superior or inferior in competence and is thus entitled to rule, or condemned to serve, isn’t a prevailing influence in America. Yet the term “racism” is frequently used to describe human behavior, especially that of white people, when such behavior is actually motivated by simple prejudice or merely self-preservation, the latter a perfectly natural human concern, the former a common human quality. Humans prejudge others by the car they drive, the clothes they wear, and naturally prefer people like themselves—those that share their experiences, speak their language, and judge each other’s words and deeds by similar standards.

Some years ago, while researching crime and illegal drugs, I found that Durham’s black citizens, representing half the city’s population, committed 90 percent of the of the serious crimes, including 95 percent of the armed robberies and almost all of the murders. Such conduct by black people reinforces prejudices and makes avoiding blacks and their neighborhoods and businesses a matter of prudence. It’s well known that the leading cause of death among young black males is homicide committed by other black males. The leading cause of death among young white males is automobile accidents. Thus it would appear that the leading cause of “prejudice” shown toward black people isn’t the irrationality of white people, but a natural consequence of black criminality. And the recent looting and burning in cities across the land will only appear to justify any repugnance shown by whites toward blacks.

It could be that Derek Chauvin, the ex-police officer held responsible for the death of George Floyd, was frustrated by the excessive violations of the law by citizens of color. And it’s conceivable that this frustration had produced an indifference to the sufferings of George Floyd, a known felon, possibly intoxicated by fentanyl and methamphetamine. It’s hard to believe that so much violence could result from Floyd’s death. But Antifa was waiting to pounce on the incident and create a major brawl in Minneapolis and in other cities as well, despite the widespread ignorance of the facts surrounding it. Through it all, few have bothered to consider that Floyd was six feet, six inches tall, a large man who was resisting arrest when taken down. Has it occurred to anyone that he would still be alive if he hadn’t resisted arrest? An arrest is not a tea party, to borrow a phrase. Resisting it will only guarantee a hands-on response by the police.

Consider the case involving Officers Davis Brosnan and Garrett Rolfe at a Wendy’s parking lot in Atlanta, Georgia. Here, the fate of their arrestee, Rayshard Brooks, was clearly decided by the wrong choices made by Brooks himself. Intoxicated and ready to drive away, Brooks was properly detained by the police officers, but resisted arrest, forcing the officers to the ground. As he ran away with a taser taken from Officer Brosnan, he pointed it at Officer Rolfe, who shot him in self-defense. Lawyer and journalist Marina Medvin analyzed the police body-camera images. She wrote that in resisting arrest, taking the police taser, and firing it at Officer Rolfe, Brooks committed at least three felonies and was clearly a dangerous fleeing felon. And thus, under Georgia law, Rolfe’s use of deadly force was justified. Still, Rolfe was fired from the Atlanta police force, and Fulton County DA Paul Howard, whose own motives have been questioned, charged Rolfe with felony murder.

The death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky presents a much more complicated case. There were conflicting claims regarding the execution of a no-knock search warrant signed by a Jefferson County judge. The warrant did authorize a no-knock entry into the apartment shared by Ms. Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. The door was forced open using a battering ram, and when three police officers in plain clothes entered, Walker fired a shot that hit one of the officers in the leg. The officers responded by shooting up the apartment, eight of their bullets hitting Breonna Taylor. The break-in, announced or not, was part of a drug-trafficking investigation of Andrew Glover, with whom Taylor had had a previous relationship. A car registered to her had been seen in front of the Glover residence. The Taylor apartment itself became a suspected drug depository, but that hardly explained the eight bullets that struck Breonna Taylor. The bullets suggested three angry and frustrated police officers, one of whom had taken a bullet in the leg. And yet, their forced entry would never have occurred, were it not for the drug laws. Such laws have created far more sufferings than the illegal drugs themselves. And the no-knock warrant violates the tradition, derived from British Common Law, that one’s home is one’s castle. The warrant’s use invites misunderstandings of the very kind that led to Breonna Taylor’s death, as well as the deaths of a number of others under similar circumstances.

The no-knock provision may well encourage recklessness among police officers, as does the belief that the drugs represent some sort of transcendent evil. The evil arises in the illegal market—sold legally, those same drugs would be cheaper and subject to the laws that require proper labeling as to dosage and purity.

Still, there are negative values afflicting too many in the black community. I can recall one experience that revealed a fundamental problem: Some years ago, I found myself in an apartment complex that was more black than white. One day, noticing the grounds covered in trash, I ventured to do some cleaning up in the area near my own apartment. The next morning, when I opened my front door, I found a small pile of trash at my feet. That was my introduction to the Contrarian Culture that may still be a basic influence in the black world. I flung the little pile away and thus ensured I would get no more little piles at my door.

The apartment complex belonged to Duke University, and perhaps was devoted to less affluent dwellers as a gesture of good will. Not long after my attempts at clean-up, the school threw us all out with the stated intention of upgrading the buildings for office space. Sometime after the notices of eviction arrived, a TV news reporter came to interview the evictees. I refused to be interviewed, but told the young reporter that Duke had a perfect right to evict one and all. I didn’t mention that the property had become a nuisance to law enforcement and a menace to public health. During its depopulation, someone started a fire in one of the empty apartments.
And so, the Contrarian Culture lived on—producing not only half-empty dumpsters surrounded by trash and garbage, and bags of similar stuff thrown in the street and frequently torn open upon impact, but also serious violations of the law and tendencies to riot and to embrace far-left radicalism and anti-patriotism. As for violations of the law—the widely accepted Contrarian admonition not to be a “Little Goodie Two-Shoes” has led, ultimately, to self-confident criminals, including those that killed both Eve Carson and my young neighbor. Once a principle is accepted by the majority, special status will attend its most extreme advocates.

And now we have the incident in Minneapolis, the death of George Floyd, its story broadcast nationwide, even worldwide, but with few details, and accompanied by a likely photo-shopped picture of Floyd, in one version with wings added. The largely white-organized Antifa had its own reasons for promoting a national excursion in violence—the promotion of socialism, communism, anti-capitalism, and anti-Americanism. The Contrarian blacks had their reasons—the enjoyment of a holiday of shouting, burning, looting, and shooting. And elite white liberals had their reasons—the display of what passes for virtue, implicit in their naïve sloganeering, exemplified by assurances that “Black Lives Matter.” Blacks are far more likely to die at the hands of other blacks than at the hands of elite whites, or any other whites. But such information is never seen on the signs the elitists place in their yards.

As the reader may have surmised, I’m not buying into the nonsense raining down concerning the death of George Floyd at the hands of “racist cops.” Furthermore, I believe that the demands to de-finance and even abolish the police and the prisons are products of the kind of lunacy that arises from a combination of mass anger, mass ignorance, and agitation by ultra-left propagandists. Surely, the worst victims of police extinction would be the urban blacks, whose families are very much in need of police protection.

Public commentary on the Minneapolis episode has left questions unanswered and created the impression that Floyd was an innocent victim of police brutality. Did the police have probable cause for arrest? Yes—Floyd appeared intoxicated to the police and in control of an automobile. Did it transpire that Floyd was six-and-a-half feet tall, had spent five years in jail for armed robbery, and had refused to enter a police vehicle when taken down? Did anyone bother to learn the effects of fentanyl on the human heart? Floyd’s autopsy showed evidence of fentanyl and methamphetamine use. Fentanyl is an extraordinarily powerful opioid, a common cause of overdose, and is frequently mixed with methamphetamine (speed) for street sale. Fentanyl, it seems, produces a quicker high. Is it possible that in addressing the problems of arrest, resistance thereto, and securing additional assistance, Derek Chauvin didn’t realize Floyd had stopped breathing? And is it also possible that Floyd’s death was due to a heart condition that pre-existed his final arrest?

My guess is that reasonable doubt will lead to Chauvin’s acquittal of second-degree murder. If he’s found guilty of a lesser offense, the verdict will likely be reversed upon appeal. Needless to say, his acquittal will lead to more disorders, as did Rodney King’s acquittal in 1992. And public officials and the great majority of Americans will rightly conclude that we had better keep the police and the prisons and the entire criminal justice system.

But at the moment, the symbolic acts of apology and reparation by elitist whites and their dupes often reach the point of absurdity. “Black Lives Matter” has become a shibboleth associated with the far political left, including those who hate Christianity and vandalize and burn its churches. Yet I’ve seen signs bearing that very shibboleth displayed in front of Durham churches, including an exceptionally big one that, for a time, stared out from the front lawn of the Duke Memorial United Methodist Church—ah, what fools these mortals be.

And the removal of statues honoring the brave men of the Confederacy by ignorant mobs and not-so-brave politicians is in itself an injustice. Recently, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper ordered all Confederate statues removed from public property, a concession to the mobs that had already damaged or pulled down some of them. And recently, too, the Confederate Flag, under which brave men in gray fought and died, was forbidden by the United States Marine Corps, an organization with its own brave history. And equally puzzling, the State of Mississippi is, at this writing, about to remove the Confederate Flag’s likeness from its state flag. The urge to expunge has grown to include any statues of leading characters in American History—including those of Washington, Grant, Lincoln, and even one of Frederick Douglas.

Call me Southern loyalist, but I don’t believe the Civil War was fought mainly over slavery. Lincoln and other leaders in the North used the slavery issue to turn the war into a moral crusade and stimulate the will to fight. Yet there are those in the present day that believe the Founding Fathers themselves were motivated by a desire to preserve the institution of slavery. Some may have been, but many others were not. The transcendent problem in 1787 was to create a viable republic, whose written Constitution was acceptable to the delegates at that remarkable Constitutional Convention and to the American people. Compromise was essential in achieving these goals. But this is an age in which those who control the political debates first decide on the story they wish to tell, and then choose the facts that tend to support it, ignoring those that tend to refute it. And too many of their viewers and readers can’t distinguish between sound reportage and leftist propagandizing.

Perhaps it’s true that lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for, and it may be true that freedom itself is a lost cause, whose downward spiral began with the American Civil War. Ronald Reagan warned us that freedom must be defended in every generation or it will eventually be lost. It was the desire for freedom from an overbearing government that moved the Confederate leaders to choose secession and, finally, war.

But why did so many country boys in homespun, half-starved, poorly shod, poorly equipped, and out-numbered, fight with such ferocity and courage? When I was a young lad in the military, I heard my commanding officer say, “Men don’t fight to make the world safe for democracy or for any higher cause. They fight because their friends are fighting next to them and they don’t want them to get hurt.” That officer was a bird-colonel and a combat veteran. Somewhat the same thing surely motivated the men in the Confederate ranks—and added to that was their concern for farm and family. Consider the words of Tocqueville, written in his famous study, Democracy in America: “Public spirit is, in a sense, only a summing up of provincial patriotism. Every citizen of the United States may be said to transfer the concern inspired by his little republic into his love of the common motherland.”

Yes, and when the government of the motherland became a threat to their “little republics,” most Southern men remained loyal to their native states. Included among them was the heroic officer, General Robert E. Lee. I mention all this to suggest that we all owe a debt to history—to know and understand the struggles of our forebears. Failing in this, erasing the historic record, replacing it with lies, removing monuments that remind us of those struggles, will surely turn us into a nation of sleepwalkers, ready subjects for a tyrant.


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----------. “Phoenix Police Shot and Killed a White Man in May. Have You Heard About It?”
Ibid. Aug. 11, 2020. www.townhall.com/columnists/marinamedvin/2020/08/11/phoenix-police-shot-and-killed-a-white-man-in-may-have-you-heard-about-it-n2574088 Retrieved 8/12/2020.
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Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America. Trans. George Lawrence. Ed. J. P. Mayer. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1969. Vol. I, p.162.
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