By Professor Steven Yates
May 30, 2015
Articles on racial tension and conflict tend to hit nerves. My last one did, evidenced both in my email and on my Facebook page. One person dissented from certain details of my account of the Zimmerman-Martin physical confrontation. He was civil. A few other items were scary! There are people out there who aren’t satisfied that Zimmerman is a marked man whose life has been ruined! They want him dead! (Or, in prison, then dead!)
If I didn’t know better, I’d ask whatever happened to the idea of innocent until proven guilty. Or to the idea of the rule of law, as opposed to lynch mobs, including online where people can post hate blasts under fake names and bogus accounts.
There was no proof that Zimmerman was guilty. Period.
The high-tech lynch mobs might one day get their wish. Zimmerman was recently back in the news. It was reported as a road rage incident, but this wasn’t mere road rage. The other driver had clearly singled him out. The two had had at least one previous confrontation. The other man shot at his truck. Contrary to initial reports, Zimmerman was not hit by gunfire but cut in the face by broken glass and debris when the shot blew a hole in the truck’s passenger window. Zimmerman had a weapon — he’s a licensed gun owner — but did not fire in retaliation. Bleeding but not seriously injured, he walked to an ambulance, and was taken to an emergency room where he was treated and released.
This is the sort of bullying that is common enough in today’s America that it wouldn’t be considered news if Zimmerman hadn’t been the target. The incident ties in with the general decline in civility about which I wrote earlier this year.
Eventually, someone will shoot and not miss. Then, perhaps, the lefties will be happy — or at least satisfied. (I have trouble picturing cultural leftists happy; those I have encountered, in person or online, seemed like cauldrons of pent-up rage.)
I’d begun writing a piece on the melee in Baltimore, drawing attention to the race-and-gender make-up of the six cops directly responsible for Freddie Gray’s death: three white men, two black men, one black woman. Baltimore has a black mayor, a black police commissioner, and a police department that is 43% black. The Baltimore State’s Attorney is black.
Somehow, one might get the impression that Freddie Gray’s tragic death from injuries sustained while in police custody was about more than race, and that the epidemic of police violence in the U.S. is not primarily about race, which is what I have been arguing since the issue rose to visibility following the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson.
Cultural lefties everywhere are railing about “white privilege.”
White privilege? I recall videos of random whites being physically attacked on Baltimore’s streets by blacks. One family was attacked in a passing vehicle. I didn’t see them striking back. They were terrified, and trying to get away. They were fleeing for their lives. In a separate incident, 61-year-old Baltimore resident Richard Fletcher was set upon by a large group of black teens and beaten unconscious. The beating continued despite his unconsciousness. This was sadism, pure and simple. Fletcher’s injuries included broken eye sockets and a brain bleed.
I have never taken the view that racial conflict is the worst threat facing the U.S., although obviously it is a threat — a big one! My view has long been that those with real power want us all divided — by race/ethnicity, by gender, by ideology (“conservative” or “liberal”), by one-percent vs. 99-percent, or by whatever other fault lines happen to be available. The superelites figured out long ago that when one group is given unworkable government favors at the expense of another group that can be demonized, resentments and counterresentments build until they explode. Such explosions can then be exploited, as society as a whole is taken in the desired direction: towards more centralized control, less privacy, less freedom.
There are reasons I do not believe in any substantive “white privilege.” Yes, yes, yes, I can look at history books and see mostly white people. Or walk into a store or restaurant and most of those around me are white — although this was not always the case: there was an incident in South Carolina I have never written about where I clearly was singled out in a public place where I was the only white person in the room, and chose to exit before the confrontation turned ugly. And yes, if a cop stopped me on the interstate, he was probably less wary when he saw I was white. Does that mean I am “privileged”?
Look at it this way: I presently live in Chile. Everyone around me, on a typical day when I must be out and about, speaks Spanish. All I have to do to signal my status as a gringo is open my mouth. My Spanish is halting and broken; I can speak, but make a lot of grammar mistakes. I often have to say “Más lento, por favor,” to even begin to understand what someone is saying to me. Do native speakers of the dominant language here have natural advantages over me because of that? Of course they do. Do they have advantages over us gringos because they grew up here, speak the dominant language, know the culture, know the local customs, etc., etc. Of course. Are we gringos “discriminated against” or victims of “microaggressions” (one of the latest, and silliest, politically correct buzzwords) because of our limitations?
Nonsense. No one is discriminating against us or aggressing against us.
Cultural lefties will respond that my analogy is absurd. Blacks’ ancestors, they will say, were brought to U.S. soil by force and enslaved. We went to Chile voluntarily.
Let’s look at it. Not long after the War Between the States, there were black-owned businesses especially in the South where there were concentrations of newly freed former slaves. These included restaurants, newspapers, schools, and even banks. There were black authors and educators (e.g., Booker T. Washington), and black inventors (e.g., George Washington Carver). Blacks also went into the ministry and a few even held public office. Much of this progress was halted by specific acts of government, especially Supreme Court decisions (e.g., the Slaughter-House cases and Plessy), not discrimination in a general sense or “white privilege.” It is true that a lot of whites feared these advances; that is why the country got “black codes” and Jim Crow. The point is, black historians could make a larger deal of the successful black entrepreneurs one could find prior to 1900 and note their primary enemies were white elites, not white people generally, but this would hurt the Al Sharpton claim that slavery damaged blacks so badly they need reparations. They cannot have it both ways.[*]
The blacks who burned down small businesses in Ferguson and Baltimore had never been slaves. Nor had their parents been slaves; nor their grandparents. They were represented in their local governments. Are they victims? If so, it is of “progressive” policies that promised them advances in society without having to work to achieve them — advances their ancestors were capable of. These policies have destroyed the black family. Prior to the civil rights era blacks did experience workplace discrimination, but their families tended to stay together. They were not in a situation in which 70% of black children grow up without knowing who their fathers are.
I grew up in an all-white suburb in Atlanta, during the era of integration via forced busing to increase racial balance in public schools. As I recall, we white kids didn’t hate the black kids. We didn’t understand them, and they didn’t understand us. If there were opportunities for genuine education about our differences, they weren’t taken. Remember, this was forced on public schools, and those in them had no idea how to carry out what they were being told to do. By high school we were afraid of the black kids, who kept to themselves, usually congregrating in one section of hallway. Most aggression, which wasn’t “micro” either, came from them if one of us had to pass through that section. Their measure of a person’s worth seemed to be physical prowess, which may be why so many black kids of my generation excelled in sports. While again it was doubtless different in the pre-civil rights era, I never saw a white student single out a black student for abuse. Nor did I see a teacher or an administrator do it. I recall black students being openly defiant of teachers on more than one occasion, however.
Many could not read! Some of us wanted to help them learn to read! But we had no idea how to go about it! They had already separated themselves and wanted nothing to do with us!
There were a few sterling exceptions to this pattern: black students, presumably from the same background, who could read, took their studies seriously and made good grades. They were polite to everyone around them. They dressed decently. They did not hang out in the courtyard or on sidewalks smoking cigarettes, then blow smoke in white kids’ faces (yes, they did that, too). I believe they’d figured out that personal effort and responsibility — variables roundly condemned as code for “racism” by cultural lefties and media elites — actually went a long way! Those guys went on to college and probably made something of their lives. I do not imagine their children are burning down businesses in Baltimore.
The majority of blacks don’t realize that white elites in government — a bastion of real privilege — sold them a bill of goods from top to bottom right from the start. Today, they’ve basically developed a different culture, one lived in decrepit public housing and on the streets. Perhaps in a sense those of us who lived in safe, well-kept neighborhoods should feel “privileged” not to have grown up in that environment. But such claims won’t bear the weight cultural leftists are placing on them. How do they explain why Asians, with far fewer numbers than blacks and often unable to speak English, came to the U.S. with nothing but the clothes on their backs and went on to succeed brilliantly at whatever they tried, often outperforming whites in business or their studies? Is there some hidden “Asian privilege” none of the lefties or media elites have noticed?
All this is somewhat beside the point. The potential for media-fomented clashes between blacks and police are taking the U.S. closer to an abyss. For there will continue to be clashes. One day, conditions will be just right for another police murder, perhaps caught on video, to provoke a riot. Again, police will be ordered to stand down (as they were in both Ferguson and Boston). National Guard troops will be called in. Someone will get trigger happy, and instead of the situation coming under control, it will spread.
For nothing is being done about deadly violence at the hands of police. Over 400 people, black and white alike, have been killed by cops so far in 2015. While I’ve no doubt most officers just want to do their jobs and serve their communities, a few are dangerously violent sociopaths. Little is being done to contain this element. If anything, militarization of police forces with weaponry suitable for a battlefield has made matters several magnitudes worse!
Militarization of police is part of the ongoing militarization of American society generally. What, for example, is Jade Helm 15 really all about?
You’ve heard of it, no doubt. Just this morning as I write this article, I watched a video taken in Texas of a lengthy caravan hauling all manner of military vehicles and equipment down a major interstate.
Government officials insist Jade Helm is a standard training exercise, not different from its predecessors, intended to prepare troops for action elsewhere in the world. Across the aisle are those convinced we are seeing the beginning of an armed occupation of the affected states, which include Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and southern California. Texas, moreover, was deemed “hostile” on an official Jade Helm map, which raised hackles all across alternative media.
The abrupt closings of five Walmarts, all in Jade Helm states and projected to remain shuttered for up to six months, have fueled speculation that the stores will be used as staging areas. Others have speculated that this is company retaliation against employees demanding better wages and threatening to unionize. I wish to emphasize that we have no hard evidence of either one. Walmart’s official explanation—plumbing problems—seems to this writer a stretch. Does it take six months to fix plumbing problems? Be that as it may, those convinced that Jade Helm is more than an innocent exercise got the attention not only of Texas officials including the governor but also GOP presidential aspirants Ted Cruz and Rand Paul who have pledged to keep an eye on things.
Neither of the extremes is likely, of course. I do not believe Jade Helm will impose martial law on Texas. But I doubt it is as innocent as its defenders claim. We should be aware that specific events could bring martial law to U.S. soil.
Do I need to point out that another 9/11 could happen at almost any time? Or that the U.S. federal government definitely appears to be preparing for something!
It might be another terror attack, real or false flag. A real terrorist attack could be planned and carried out by foreigners who have entered the U.S. illegally (and I do not mean people from Mexico), as blowback against any of the U.S.’s many destructive wars of choice in the Middle East. This is not impossible, given the utter refusal by both Republicans and Democrats to secure the country’s southern border! (Again: border security is not wanted by the superelite, whose corporations profit from cheap labor just as the mostly Spanish-speaking populations undermine the dominant culture and divide the country further.)
It might be general civil unrest — an Arab Spring in U.S. soil — accompanying a major economic downturn. This is worth noting because even as I write, the U.S. economy appears to be slowing after the most tepid “recovery” in U.S. history. Except for Wall Street, of course, the U.S. never really recovered from the Meltdown of 2008. The present “5.4% unemployment rate” has been achieved by consigning roughly 100 million people to the status of “not in the labor force.”
It might be a massive, multi-city race riot following either another suspicious death in police custody or a highly publicized nonprosecution of a white cop for shooting and killing another unarmed black man. These days, any white cop who shoots a black man has to be either stupid or sociopathic.
It might be a combination of these. If the economy does abruptly turn sour, with the “too big to fail” banks even bigger, the majority of jobs part-time and paying starvation wages, economic inequality now worse than it was in the 1960s with no end in sight, every major city in the U.S. will become a powder keg.
When whatever happens, happens, it is going to catch the bulk of the majority-white TV-watching public with their pants down and around their ankles. Most, after all, are far more fascinated by the Kardashians than what is occurring in the corridors of power. So much for their “white privilege.”
This column hasn’t been as focused as I usually prefer. The U.S. is approaching its abyss from many directions at once. Events are happening so rapidly that writing columns about all of them is impossible.
Why civilizations collapse has been widely studied. While scholars differ on a lot of details, most agree that few if any major civilizations are invaded. They decompose from within. Having risen energetically, they grow complacent. They betray whatever principles gave rise to them and become bloated, arrogant empires. Gradually, corruption saps their energies. Trust in public officials declines and slowly takes loyalty down with it. Those in positions of authority grow increasingly abusive and violent. When working within the system repeatedly fails to yield satisfactory results, abuses of power eventually lead to armed rebellion and separatism. The U.S. is presently at the stage where massive corruption in all the dominant institutions is in evidence, and loyalty is fading. The inherent violence of its power structures is clear, but has not yet prompted organized resistance or secession movements with sufficient influence to commandeer state governments, which is what will be necessary for such movements to gain traction.
It’s just a matter of time, however. Whatever else one says, those in power are not stupid. They know the U.S. is rotting from the inside out, and do not plan to go down without a fight. Maybe this is why they are militarizing police all over the country (even small towns). Maybe this is what they are using Jade Helm to prepare for.
[*] Once, perhaps 15 years ago, there was a very comprehensive black history website that listed black achievers by name, date, and accomplishment, but that site appears to be gone. One can find relevant information on scattered sites by googling, e.g., black inventor. But as the cultural left has gained influence including over the Internet, the majority of websites now emphasize the official narrative, meaning that unless you have physical books or a printout the older site (I don’t), the claims in this paragraph will be difficult to document. I will be happy to send the bibliography I’ve worked from to anyone who requests it.
© 2015 Steven Yates – All Rights Reserved
Steven Yates has a doctorate in philosophy and currently lives in Santiago, Chile. He is the author of Four Cardinal Errors: Reasons for the Decline of the American Republic(Brush Fire Press International, 2011). He also owns an editing business, Final Draft Editing Service.
Steven Yates’s new ebook is entitled: Philosophy Is Not Dead: A Vision of the Discipline’s Future.