My editor is in Gulf Shores. You may see more commas and errors than usual.
Sad State of Affairs. The occurrence of mass shootings last weekend was sickening to me.
My personal examination of the situations makes me believe in the need to see deeper causes than “racism” or “white supremacy” for our explanations. Clearly the Buffalo shooter targeted people of color. Clearly, he defined himself as a white supremacist. A deeper look reveals the Buffalo shooter’s hate was not just for people of color. His manifesto made it clear he hated people of another culture, namely Jews. His hatred is despicable.
The shooter in Los Angele targeted people of a particular culture. The behavior is also despicable.
The human trait and social construct I choose for my explanation is prejudice. Please carefully note I am not denying a subculture of White supremacy, I am saying prejudice is the cause of the problem. The term can account for both attacks as well as attacks on other cultures, other religions and other nationalities.
For example, as it turns out the Los Angeles shooter was a person of Chinese descent who hated Taiwanese. Two Asian subcultures were involved. I personally see similarities in the Asian situation to killings between two Black subcultures in Los Angeles, namely the Bloods and the Crips. Their fighting has resulted in over 20,000 deaths in recent years. Subculture prejudice can account for both tragic situations.
Interestingly, we headline mass shootings with a few deaths but do not headline 20,000 gang deaths. The reason is the gang deaths do not happen at one time. It is the same form of cognitive bias that leads people to believe driving is safer than flying. A single plane crash kills several at one time in one place, but the over 40,000 a year who die in car accidents are spread out over time and space. The bias causes many people to believe driving is safer.
I firmly believe prejudice is a useful concept that ties together all of the situations. I believe we should be looking to the nature, the causes and the prevention of prejudice.
As an aside, while some people are rushing to blame Fox News for the Buffalo nightmare, the shooter actually hated Fox News for a perceived Jewish influence. I strongly disagree with some of the statements made by some of the commentators on Fox News, but the blame for hateful messaging needs to be more specific than that the overall network.
Prejudice is a Human Problem. One reason prejudice as a social construct works for my thinking is because all humans are capable of prejudicial attitudes. The term does not automatically set up us-them conditions.
To underscore my concern, consider the following hypothetical:
“I would absolutely love to live in a world where White people were taught that they are superior. I would love it because I full-heartedly believe that.”
If you read that quote, what would you think? I certainly would reject that idea.
Now consider this: does changing one word change the prejudicial nature of the statement?
“I would absolutely love to live in a world where Black people were taught that they are superior. I would love it because I full-heartedly believe that.”
Unfortunately, the latter is a statement made by John Fuller, a junior at The Ohio State University. I think both statements are prejudicial and speak to the possibility of prejudice in every human. I believe developing an understanding of prejudice is the most useful approach to the problems of injustice.
Good Police Work. I want share with you a local video that did not receive national attention. The event occurred at the Alabama State Track Championship in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
A young man was in a fight in the stands and when the police tried to deescalate the disturbance, he attacked the police and hit them. If the policemen had drawn guns and shot the young man it would have made national news. When they take the hits (which should not be part of their job description) and do their jobs, the effort does not receive national attention. The discrepancy leads to cognitive bias against the police. We need to see positive events to make our perceptions more accurate.
His father, upon seeing what was happening, did not move in to stop his son, rather he joined in the attack against the police. People are quick to note how the bad decisions by police lead to bad feeling about the police. The same understanding has to be made when bad decisions are made by the public. People who attack or disobey police requests are not building good will.
The brazen attack on the police is in line with a recent report on 60 Minutes. Christopher Wray, the Director of the FBI, reported fatal attacks on police are up 31%. He said one police officer is murdered approximately every five days.
I want my police force to be made up of people who make good decisions and do not make tragic mistakes such as shooting unarmed people of color. The trouble is — how can police departments recruit top quality men and women to a job where one of them is murdered every five days and they have to endure eighteen-year-olds and parents hitting them?
On that same 60 Minutes show, Eric Adams the Mayor of New York City and former policeman made points many people have thought but were afraid to say. As a Black leader he is able to state the ideas without the usual Twitter claptrap that detracts from the main points. I hope people listened.
He said Black lives matter when the police shoot an unarmed Black person, but the gang-related shooting of an innocent Black child should be as important as other Black deaths. In other words, all Black lives matter.
He also made another interesting observation. He said the reactions against bad policing are appropriate. However, he thinks the pendulum has swung too far. “There is a middle ground. We only talk about ‘How do we protect the rights of those who commit a crime. How about talking about the rights of those who are doing the right thing.?”
The transcript of Mayor Adams’ interview can be found at this site:
Another policeman saves a life: