Friday, May 29, 2020

The Racism Hypothesis: George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Cooper v Cooper

The racism hypothesis is a legit hypothesis in bizarre interactions like the Copper vs. Cooper interaction, the Ahmaud Arbery case, and the Minneapolis police killing (murder?) of George Floyd. The waters are muddied to the point of near-opacity by the fact that false, irresponsible, stupid and outright loony accusations of racism are the bread and butter of the progressive left...but that in no way means that the hypothesis isn't often legitimate. But when one political faction shrieks "racism!" basically whenever anything happens, it becomes difficult not to just epistemically demote all such accusations.
   In the case of Cooper v. Cooper, we don't even seem to know all the facts yet. A. Cooper certainly acted weird in the video. She kept saying that she would call the police and report "an African-American male" threatening her. Aaand her inflection was a bit weird. This was immediately declared to be racist, on the grounds that she should have just said 'male.' But, analogously, wouldn't it be sexist to describe him as male? Were the police to ask me to describe Smith, and Smith were a black man, I'd probably say "He's a black man." Perhaps her inclusion of 'African-American' was the effect of racist attitudes, perhaps it wasn't. Perhaps it was just the standard tv description template that sprang to mind (a white male...a black male...). Of course the PC left's leading principle in such cases is: if there is any possibility it's racism, then it's racism. But in actual fact, in the world of sane people, it's clear that this case isn't clear. Even if there was some small admixture of racism in there, it's bizarre to make a big deal out of it, when part of the left insists that we all simply assume that everyone's a little bit racist. (The other view is: all and only white people are racist--basically by definition.) Maybe everyone's a little bit everything--who knows? Do A. Cooper's actions show that she's a little bit of an anarchist? Should we, then, proclaim her to be an anarchist? She was upset enough that she basically began (inadvertently--probably) choking her dog. Maybe she's a habitual animal abuser, too. But that doesn't seem to be all that likely. 
   Another possibility is that she was upset. C. Cooper said something that sidled right up to the edge of threatening--it was at least as clearly threatening as A. Cooper's utterances were clearly racist. I read at least one place that he admits to having also threatened her dog--though I'd guess at this point that someone botched that part of the story. As I've already said, in a different mood, the progressive left would proclaim this to be absolutely indubitably a very different story--probably about evil men. Or imagine the exact same video except the races are switched--white man, black woman. I've also read that you can't exactly understand the interaction without understanding an ongoing battle between dog-owners and bird-watchers in Central Park. Maybe that does matter. The most striking thing, to my mind, was that A. Cooper initially said that she was going to tell the police that C. Cooper had threatened her life. I thought she should go to jail for that...but then it turned out that C. Cooper had said something threatening...and she didn't actually tell the police that he'd threatened her life--just that he'd threatened her. Which...he kinda did. But maybe racist beats maybe threatening now, I guess.
   Neither person comes out of that encounter smelling like a rose--though obviously C. Cooper comes off a lot better in the partial video we do have. But: much depends on how the encounter began. If C. Cooper did threaten her dog, and then did try to entice it toward him with treats, then A. Cooper's actions become more excusable--even her mistreatment of her dog. She's obviously unable to control it--it's spazzing out, and she's not a large woman. It's going nuts. She's trying to deal with its misbehavior while trying to keep it away from someone who has (possibly) just threatened it and threatened her. Bottom line: my fallible judgment, FWIW, is that the racism hypothesis should be in play here. But it is very far from obvious. And very far from obviously the most important aspect of the interaction.
   Then there's our loony cultural background: always on the watch for something new--e.g. new slang, some new category of people to make fun of / bitch about /demean--and dedicated to the pervasive racism hypothesis--or, I should say, presupposition--progressives, including the media, have seized on three or four cases of "Karens" (a stupid and not-funny term) calling the police on black people. That is--three or four cases over the last year+. Hell, say it was 20. Such actions (or, as we now say, "behaviors"...because action implies freedom...which is retrograde and NOT OK) are bullshit. Obviously. But they're blown out of proportion by a progressivism that controls the cultural message, and which is dedicated to exaggerating white racism. And that's indisputable. So a very few--sometimes ambiguous--cases are picked out and broadcast on the internet as if they were instances of a pervasive phenomenon--which they could be for all we know. But the plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data.' So we can't know that it's pervasive from the few anecdotes picked up by progressive social media and amplified by the progressive news media. 
   Anyway: A. Cooper ran up against this progressive (ergo cultural) fad. Again: in a different cultural mood, or if C. Cooper were white, and had she said "white male," she might well be a progressive hero. Instead, one partial video of an ambiguous, stupid encounter has turned her into an object of mass hatred, lost her her job--and, worse, her dog. There but for the grace of God go you, my friend. I'd hate to have a partial video of me at my worst...and at a lunatic cultural moment, no less. Maybe she is an asshole. And maybe she isn't. 
   This is all exacerbated by the progressive myth--promoted by the media relentlessly for years--that, so far as the police are concerned, it's open season on black people. Actual analysis of the actual data shows this to be false--but carefully-constructed and on-going lies about e.g. the Trayvon Martin case and the Michael Brown / Ferguson case (i.e.: anecdotes) keep the myth vibrant. This myth allows progressives to say things like "calling the police on black people is a terrorist act." All of this is particularly crazy given the fact that black-on-white violence is vastly more common than white-on-black violence and police-on-black violence. And, hell, black-on-black violence. But the media works hard to suppress the truth and promote the myth. Everyone, now, has heard of Ahmaud Arbery. Virtually no one has heard of the brutal, cold-blooded murder of Lidia and Paul Marino (who were white) by a black man, which story broke about the same time as the Arbery story. Add to all this that almost everyone is so terrified of being accused of racism that they virtually stumble all over themselves to declare anything that's ambiguous to be racist...and you've got a really insane "cultural moment." A. Cooper is acting badly in the video...but conclusions drawn about her character from a partial video of a bad moment are dicey. Too bad for her that came to light under these prevailing conditions--because that's who she is now to the public mind. And as long as she is anything to it at all, that's who she'll be. 
   Needless to say, all of that could be wrong. But most of it probably isn't. 
   As for the other two cases--they'll have to wait, I guess.


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