The Black and White of 'Systemic Racism'

If you’re going to champion a cause, have the good grace or basic intelligence to push one that is not so easily undermined by reality... like “systemic racism.” At last check, we’re more than 50 years removed from “colored-only” anything; television commercials would have us believe that inter-racial couples are the rule today; and, diversity/inclusion is a lucrative industry and that’s on top of affirmative action. In short, there has never been a better time to be black in America. Until a few months ago, there was never a better time to be black and employed in America.

Then came the death of George Floyd, which was universally condemned. That point cannot be repeated often enough. No one supported the officer whose name won’t be mentioned here. In the ensuing outcry over Floyd’s death, however, many more black men were killed, by the people doing the  protesting. These further black deaths have largely gone ignored because they cannot be squared with claim of systemic racism -- they cannot be rationalized at all. Forget the concept of “all lives matter;” it’s apparent that not even all black lives matter. Unless a cop is involved and facts don’t matter then, either. 

Not only is ‘systemic racism’ grossly inaccurate, so is the claim that law enforcement officers seek out and target black citizens. No one told Tony Timpa that being white carried special privileges when he encountered cops. Or Daniel Shaver. In fact, the Shaver case was so egregious even the Atlantic couldn’t ignore it and to publication’s credit, it also noticed the elephant in the living room:

“The case hasn’t attracted the higher degree of attention from the press, the public, or policing-reform activists, partly because…. the cop and the dead man were both white, rendering the killing less controversial than one possibly animated by racism.”

Less controversial... A cute euphemism for “not politically expedient.’ As for the underlying claim of disparate treatment of minorities by law enforcement, a study from Michigan State published last year reports that the mythology of racist cops does not match the reality. It doesn’t even come close. If anything, black citizens are more likely to be shot by cops who are black, and if there is a causal link, it’s the volume of violent crime that occurs in any jurisdiction. Simply put, more crime usually equals more shootings. And yet, the talking point of ‘systemic racism’ has taken hold like a prairie fire that refuses to be doused by any volume of contrary facts or evidence.

At the same time, a combination of self-flagellation and self-congratulations is emanating from white leftists eager to atone, or give the appearance of atoning, for their lack of melanin while also getting their woke on, as if there is a contest to see who can preen the loudest. It’s what a friend of mine terms “pathological altruism,” the paternalistic conceit of the left that is built on the belief that black people can only advance and succeed when guided by the benevolent hand of progressive America.

This mindset not only ignores the blacks who do just fine without these would-be masters, it parades the helped group as mascots to be forever reminded that their lives are only possible due to the tireless effort of their white benefactors. It is an overlay of weapons-grade condescension atop the stench of rank bigotry. Because what else can it be but bigotry when the pathological altruist essentially says “you’re nothing without me” to the minority individual while claiming “they’re as good as anyone else” to the rest of us.

For an ever-so-brief moment, there was something on which we all agreed:  the cops in Minneapolis were in the wrong. Unity, of course, is offensive to many in the political and pundit class, so the cohesion had to be ripped asunder and few things create division as effectively as race. Was that even a factor here? Maybe, but given the number of complaints against this officer, it is plausible that color doesn’t even register with him, that he is a sociopath with a badge and gun, and woe unto the person who falls within his crosshairs. Which speaks to an actual problem, that of far too many law enforcement agencies protecting officers who do not deserve it. 

For several years now, the Washington Post has kept a running database of fatal force incidents involving lawmen and civilians. The numbers are available in literal black and white for any interested party to peruse. About half of the people shot and killed are white, but the proportion of blacks relative to total population is higher.  

There are two other factors that are often sidestepped:  the incidents that generate publicity tend to occur in blue cities where unfettered Democrat rule has been the norm for decades. Secondly, when the elected class passes one law after another, someone has to enforce the rules. In 2016, after five of his officers were killed as Black Lives Matter was announcing its presence, the Dallas police chief noted that societal failures from bad schools to single-parent homes to inadequate mental health are dumped in the laps of cops. When the number of interactions between cops and citizens increases, and in tense situations, the odds of an interaction ending badly also rises. Yet, the same people behind the laws, the policies, and the increased contact keep being re-elected.  

The reality is that there are genuine issues to address:  too many laws, one-party rule that kills any incentive for change among the political class, and the blue wall that instantly surrounds any cop found in a tight spot. We all understand the presumption of innocence, but that depends on the evidence at hand and too often, it appears rogue cops go unpunished. Each of these factors is color-blind, which may be the ultimate problem. It hints at a unity of purpose among different people, and there are too many whose power rests in perpetuating division.