Monday, July 11, 2016

All Lives Matter? Black Lives Matter.

I don't even know where to start with this post.  By now you've certainly heard of the police shooting of Philando Castile, which is the primary focus of this post ... as well as the Alton Sterling shooting in Baton Rouge, and the police being shot in Dallas.

I guess the Castile shooting really got to me, maybe because the guy seems to have been doing things right, both in this interaction and in his life.  By chance, I used to live very close to where the shooting occurred.  I mapped it out on Google Maps; I lived 3.4 miles away, almost due north from where the shooting occurred.  I have driven down Larpenteur Avenue many times.  So even though it's been a while since I lived there, this hits home.

Are horrific events like these something that is happening more recently?  Does it just seem that way because we now all have devices constantly in our hands that can record this stuff?  Were police always this bad but we just didn't realize it?

Are black disproportionately victims of police shootings?  Here are two sites that give some numbers, and the second link argues that maybe blacks are under-represented when crime statistics are considered.

From Zero Hedge:
"Breakdown Of US Citizens Killed By Cops In 2016"

From The Daily Wire:
"5 Statistics You Need To Know About Cops Killing Blacks"

Anyway, back to the case at hand...

Here's one link with an overview of the Castile shooting, from the New York Daily News:
"FiancĂ©e of slain Minnesota man Philando Castile blasts cops who arrested her, comforted police officer after traffic-stop shooting: ‘I was treated like a criminal’"

There is so much to talk about, so much content.  I don't know where to start, exactly, but let's start with this, from Mike Luckovich, of the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

You know the story.  Philando Castile was shot and killed by a Falcon Heights, Minnesota police officer, and his fiance live-streamed the immediate aftermath, starting just after Castile had been shot.  I'm sure there are a lot of videos posted from the originally streamed source material, so I'll just post one link here:

"(Graphic Footage) Police Kills Man While His Girlfriend and Child Watch (Falcon Heights Minnesota)"

Very disturbing, of course.  No help for Castile--NONE.  Not only did they shoot him in cold blood, they just let him die.  Staggering and appalling.  [Side note: Some of the comments I have seen in reaction to this video are also appalling.  What the hell is wrong with people???]

Reynolds was separated from her young daughter.  She was handcuffed her and put her in a police car when she had committed no crime.  I know it's not easy to think clearly in such a situation, but all I could think as I watched the video, when they were handcuffing her, was that she should have said, "Hey guys, there is a killer right over there that you're doing NOTHING about.  Handcuff HIM, not me!"

By all accounts I have read, Castile was a solid guy who did everything right in the police stop.  And the cop was incompetent.  He shot Castile while Castile was making a very normal movement to grab his wallet after being requested to provide ID.  We don't know yet precisely what happened before the video started but I don't have a high opinion of the cop, based on the audible swearing in the background of the video.  The cop knows damn well he fucked up.

And then there is this video, in which Reynolds speaks freely shortly (the next day?) after Castile's shooting.

"(FULL VIDEO) Diamond Reynolds (Girlfriend Of Philando Castile) Speaks Out Following His Murder"

Once again, so much content here.  First of all, Reynolds says "all lives matter."  Does that make her a racist?  Couple stories about this, and more on this later...

Reynolds’ use of the phrase “all lives matter” is interesting given that ‘Black Lives Matter’ leaders have repeatedly claimed that the term represents a disparaging racial remark.
Back in February, Black Lives Matter co-founder Marissa Jenae Johnson told Fox News’ John Roberts that the phrase “all lives matter” is a “new racial slur”.
Leftist commentators have also repeatedly insisted that saying “all lives matter” is racist. Just today, writer Rachel Lewis asserted that, “when you say #AllLivesMatter, whether you mean to or not, you’re being racist.”
If saying “all lives matter” is racist, then the black woman who is currently garnering global sympathy over what happened to her black boyfriend at the hands of police is a racist.

From Regated:

Finally, from Perez Hilton (good source for the transcripted quotes):
"Philando Castile's Girlfriend Shares More Shocking Details About Shooting Like How Police Comforted The Cop Who Killed Philando Instead Of Her"

And the quotes:
I want justice! He should not be home with his family. He should be somewhere in jail, handcuffed. They took me to jail. They didn't feed us. They didn't give us water. They took everything from me. They put me in a room and separated me from my child. They treated me like a prisoner. They treated me like I did this to me, and I didn't. They did this to us. They took a black man away.
If you guys see that video that went viral, everyone will see that this was a very detrimental situation, not only to me, not only to her, but everybody in this community. Everybody in this world, not just blacks, not just whites, not just asians, but everyone, this affected everyone. And not black lives matter. All lives matter. Every single life out here matters. No matter the color, the race, the nationality, we all deserve to be heard.  [Italics mine]
She contrasted how Castile was treated, as opposed to how the shooter was treated:
The police officers soothed him. They pulled him over to the side and began to calm him down and tell him that it was okay and he would get through this, as they put me in the backseat of the police car.
She talked about one of the things I noticed in the first video, how not one cop gave a shit about Castile as he lay dying.
They left him sitting in a car after they shot him. Nobody checked his pulse, nothing. The police officer that was on my side walked away to call for backup, and the police officer that shot him was still standing there with his gun still drawn.
Some other points from the video:

One spectator correctly points out that in classes required to get a concealed carry permit students are taught to identify to police that they are permit holders and have a concealed weapon, so that officers are not surprised if/when they see a gun.  So Castile did exactly as he must have been taught, in informing the officer that he had a gun.

Reynolds addressed another thing I wondered about.  How can they ask for Castile's ID, and then shoot him for moving to get it?
How can you not move when you're asking for license and registration? It's either you want my hands in the air, or you want my information and my identification. It's either you want me to freeze when I'm not being arrested, or you want me to reach for my identification to let you know who I am. I can't do two things at one time.
Just to show you what scum police and/or the government are, Reynolds says she wasn't told for many hours that Castile was dead.  She also said that they wouldn't even tell her where they took Castile, directing her to the wrong hospital.  Amazing.

Finally, I also love how she hits one more point just before the end of this video.  She says that Minnesota ought to pay for a damn nice funeral for Castile.  And why not?  Look at how much money the state wastes on other crap.
I feel like doves need to be released.  ...  Minnesota got money.  ...  Minnesota has money to build stadiums we don't need.  ...  They need to give back to these communities.  ....  If we can come together to build a stadium we can come together to make a wonderful funeral.
Amen, sister.  Minnesota has bent taxpayers over and raped them, over and over.  Why not focus on legitimate functions of government???

So now I'd like to move to a broader topic.  Do #blacklivesmatter?  Or do #alllivesmatter?

I confess, my first reaction upon hearing Black Lives Matter, some time ago (after the Trayvon Martin shooting, and too many others) was to think, wait a minute, ALL lives matter.  But I was informed that apparently I'm a racist, that "all lives matter" is a racial slur.  Hmm, I certainly don't feel like I'm a racist.  So I've given this a lot of thought lately, read as much as I can about it.

Rather than keeping you, my seven readers*, in suspense, I'll tell you my conclusions: While I don't personally feel that "all lives matter" is racist, I can certainly see that it is not helpful or appropriate when discussing these events.

Why?  Several reasons.  Let me just go through several things I came across, and say that while each item is not in and of itself convincing (to me), the weight of all these arguments forces me to agree that "all lives matter" is not helpful.

From the Washington Post:
"This is what white people can do to support #BlackLivesMatter"
Lots of crap in this link (hey, it's the Washington Post, what did you expect?), but this is the part I like:
“Stop saying ‘all lives matter’”
Understand why you can’t say that. Whatever people need to do to understand why that’s not OK, they need to do that. What we’re saying right now is that all lives will actually matter when black lives matter — and black lives don’t matter right now. So we need to say black lives matter to change that. We need to change that individually, we need to change that within our communities and we need to change that systemically.
Basically one is a pre-condition for the other.  So don't skip ahead too far or we're ignoring the issue.

From the Huffington Post (same as above, some crap but some useful content:
"What’s the Matter with ‘All Lives Matter’"
If we stop highlighting and focusing on black lives, but instead focus more globally and generally on all lives, then we become complicit in not seeing color as a factor in American life. Putting it simply, if we erase race, we won’t see racism.

From Reddit, by Geek Aesthete (there are a LOT of links that point back to this original source):
"ELI5 [Explain Like I'm Five]: Why is it so controversial when someone says "All Lives Matter" instead of "Black Lives Matter"?"
Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say ‘I should get my fair share.’ And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, ‘everyone should get their fair share.’ Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any! 
The problem is that the statement ‘I should get my fair share’ had an implicit ‘too’ at the end: ‘I should get my fair share, too, just like everyone else.’ But your dad’s response treated your statement as though you meant ‘only I should get my fair share’, which clearly was not your intention. As a result, his statement that ‘everyone should get their fair share,’ while true, only served to ignore the problem you were trying to point out.
That’s the situation of the ‘black lives matter’ movement. Culture, laws, the arts, religion, and everyone else repeatedly suggest that all lives should matter. Clearly, that message already abounds in our society.
The problem is that, in practice, the world doesn't work the way. You see the film Nightcrawler? You know the part where Renee Russo tells Jake Gyllenhal that she doesn't want footage of a black or latino person dying, she wants news stories about affluent white people being killed? That's not made up out of whole cloth -- there is a news bias toward stories that the majority of the audience (who are white) can identify with. So when a young black man gets killed (prior to the recent police shootings), it's generally not considered "news", while a middle-aged white woman being killed is treated as news. And to a large degree, that is accurate -- young black men are killed in significantly disproportionate numbers, which is why we don't treat it as anything new. But the result is that, societally, we don't pay as much attention to certain people's deaths as we do to others. So, currently, we don't treat all lives as though they matter equally. 
Just like asking dad for your fair share, the phrase "black lives matter" also has an implicit "too" at the end: it's saying that black lives should also matter. But responding to this by saying "all lives matter" is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It's a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means "only black lives matter," when that is obviously not the case. And so saying "all lives matter" as a direct response to "black lives matter" is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem. 
TL;DR: The phrase "Black lives matter" carries an implicit "too" at the end; it's saying that black lives should also matter. Saying "all lives matter" is dismissing the very problems that the phrase is trying to draw attention to.

Another similar example, from Relevant Magazine:
"The Problem with Saying ‘All Lives Matter’

The conclusion:
There is a difference between something being true and something being relevant. ... It’s the same error people who respond to “Black Lives Matter” with “All Lives Matter” are making. It’s not that what they’re saying isn’t true. It’s just that it’s unhelpful. It’s an attempt to erase an actual crisis under the guise of being fair. And by continuing to use “All Lives Matter” to drown out the cry of “Black Lives Matter,” the real problems the movement is trying to address are being ignored. “All Lives Matter” is useless. It is destructive. It is hurtful. We need to stop saying it.
And more examples:
When a parent says, “I love my son,” you don’t say, “What about your daughter? Don’t you love all your children?”
When the president says “God bless America,” we don’t say, “Shouldn’t God bless all countries?”
And when a person says “Black Lives Matter,” we should not say “All Lives Matter.”

Off the subject just a bit, here's an unexpected link, from the Unitarian Universalist Association

Not much useful in this link in terms of clarifying the actual question, certainly not compared to the Reddit post, above.  However, I had to respond to this paragraph:
As a White man, I have never been followed by security in a department store, or been stopped by police for driving through a neighborhood in which I didn’t live. My African American friends have, almost to a person, had these experiences. Some have been through incidents that were far worse.
This is not unique to blacks.  I, for one, have been followed by police and stopped just for driving through a neighborhood in which I didn't live.  It was in White Folks Bay (as we say in Milwaukee)--excuse me, White Fish Bay, Wisconsin.  I was on my new 1994 Honda VFR750 motorcycle, just purchased.  I was visiting a college friend whose parents lived there.  Yes, I was followed and stopped because I looked like I didn't belong.  No, it's not the same as being racially profiled, and I'm not pretending it is.  All I'm saying is that cops will profile for all sorts of reasons, not only because people are black.

"'We believe that all lives matter,' co-founder of Black Lives Matter tells F&M audience"
"That's what this movement is all about, that's as simple as we could get it," Tometi said. "We actually believe that all lives matter. The movement is really about building a multiracial democracy that works for all of us."  If all lives mattered, we wouldn't have had to create this movement...

I also read somewhere that people didn't start saying "all lives matter" until "black lives matter" became popularized.  Just like people didn't talk about straight pride until after gay pride became common.  Or people didn't talk about "white history month" until "black history month" became common.  Basically, if "all lives matter" was really important then it shouldn't have taken "black lives matter" to come along to make people realize that "all lives matter."

So I get it, saying "all lives matter" is not productive.  Basically "black lives matter" is really saying "black lives matter, too."  Not trying to say that only black lives matter.  I confess, I didn't initially hear it that way, I didn't hear the implicit "too" part, and I didn't get that we can't say "all lives matter" until we get serious about making sure that individual segments that make up the "all" matter.  Maybe something that is so obvious to people who have been the victim of discrimination was not at all obvious to me, and it appears that that is the point, the thing that I'm missing because I've never been profiled to that degree.  Lesson learned on my part.

Having said that, I wish I'd see the same outrage when black people are killed by other black people.  I don't see much outrage about that, no push for root cause solutions to much bigger problems.  Very confusing to me.

And then there is this.  Really???  From Breitbart:
"Black Lives Matter Activist Thanks Dallas Cop-Killer on Twitter"
Seriously, how is that helpful in any way?

However ...  I don't think saying that "all lives matter" is inherently racist.  All lives do matter.  Maybe some people do say it to minimize or ignore the "black lives matter" push for equality, but when I've heard people say it I've not heard that intent at all.  To assume anyone who says that is racist seems to me very counter-productive, possibly alienating an ally, a friend.  Better to say, hey, "all lives matter" minimizes our efforts, misinterprets what "black lives matter" really means, and is not productive, for the reasons given above, so please try to avoid saying that.

How old are you, by the way, my seven readers*?  Do you remember the term "peace officer"?  Here's a question that Jeff Deist posed a few years ago that is worth revisiting, I think.  From the Mises Institute:

"Jeff Deist: Whatever Happened to Peace Officers?"

* estimated