Sit Down and Shut Up

I'm a pasty white, college educated, middle class, conservative American. Right up at the top I acknowledge those facts disqualify me from having an opinion about anything.

Baltimore Problems and Liberal Guilt AssuagementI am, however, a woman and someone who has experienced hair prejudice. In addition I am 50, taller than average, heavier than a plus-size model, and Mormon. Given those inherent injustices and inequalities, perhaps I will be allowed to use my brain on a matter in which I am not personally involved, yet still concerned.

With that said, I will cautiously proceed.

The Guilt Guidelines

The progressive guilt assuagement pattern is a variant of “symbolism over substance.” It goes something like this:

  1. I feel bad that I have more money or resources or education or comfort or food or whatever than others.
  2. I don't like to be uncomfortable because of these feelings.
  3. I don't want to sacrifice my own lifestyle or resources in order to solve the problems over which I feel such shame. (“Shame” being one of my top 100 favorite words of all time.)
  4. Therefore I will promote legislation that redistributes primarily someone else's resources toward the cause I “care” so much about.
  5. In doing so I feel better.
  6. Whether or not the legislation actually solves the problem or serves a real purpose isn't relevant—and I refuse to discuss that aspect rationally—because I have done “my part” and therefore am absolved of guilt. And my guilt it what matters.
  7. If anyone tries to rationally discuss the efficacy of my guilt-resolving legislation—perish the thought—I will use my best ad hominem to beat them to a pulp. (Long experience shows that terms that end in -ist and -phobe have the highest probability of shutting down all discussion immediately!)
  8. Party time!

As “the good democrat” said in a (public) Facebook conversation: 

…charities will never be stable enough, large enough, with the full capability required, to help all, or at least most, of the poor of any given country. They will always lag behind the capability of governmental programs…The beauty is that, because I am one of 300 million, my cost to providing these wonderful services is low. I can go on living my life knowing that I have helped out millions of people without breaking my own bank or anyone else's bank.

Nice. I can “help” millions without even noticing that I'm doing it! Sign me up!

Easy progressive examples of rhetoric over realism are when Barrack Obama decries income inequality while spending over $44,000,000 on vacations (as of last summer) or when Al Gore decries the use of automobiles to commute to work while flying around the world on his private jet to do so.

It's what you say, not what you do that counts in the progressive world. And, of course, the elites are exempt from their own rules. But no matter, because the feels!

When it comes to Baltimore, the guilt-assuagement-without-personal-cost mentality rears it's head again. We have a plethora of outspoken liberals clamoring to be heard expressing “sympathy” and “understanding” to those “protestors” who loot, destroy, and commit arson. (I'm unsure how these other whities—in their privileged worlds—have been granted credentials and wisdom to decipher the complexities of black racist oppression, but I suppose as long as they agree with Al Sharpton, that is cred enough.) They are speaking up! They are taking action! They are assuaging reams of guilt with the turn of a phrase!

These social media and policy “activists” can sleep at night knowing they've done their part for the cause by:

  1. Posting statuses and blog posts that say they totally get it and would never condemn it.
  2. Voting for legislation that will take more stuff from other people who earned the stuff to give the causes they feel guilty about.

Blessed peace!

Yes, yes, I know you don't actually “support” or “encourage” the violence and carnage, but you feel it in your soul. You understand that it cannot (and should not) be helped—because some people have less stuff than you.

Cliff Notes

Here are a few synoptic facts about the Baltimore riots (that, of course, are endlessly debatable):

  1. On April 12, 2015, a 25-year-old black man named Freddie Gray was again arrested for having a switchblade in his pocket. (Apparently Baltimore has an inane law that prohibits “gravity knives.” This is something conservatives should hate, but liberals should love.)
  2. He walked into the paddy wagon but in transport to the police station Gray's spine was “80% severed” at his neck, he had three fractured vertebrae, and his larynx was injured.
  3. He became comatose.
  4. He died in surgery.
  5. The police commissioner noted several procedural problems with the police officers involved.
    Six Baltimore police officers (five men, one woman) were put on paid leave in order to investigate.
  6. Some protested the perceived injustice and apparent racism of yet another black man killed at the hands of police officers.
  7. A subset of protests became violent and destructive on April 25th, with 34 arrests and 15 officers (obviously not the ones on paid leave) injured.
  8. After Gray's funeral on April 27, unrest intensified, with vandalism, looting, and arson. Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard.
  9. Gray's mother said, “To see that it turned into all this violence and destruction, I am really appalled.
  10. Liberals of all colors begin collective weeping for the thugs who were burning down the city because they were, again, victims of racism and oppression.

Common Questions

Does Gray's death sound suspicious?

Yes. I have never known anyone to nearly sever their spinal column while being “in transport” in a vehicle unless that vehicle was in a violent crash. Some speculate the injuries occurred during a “nickel ride” and the police commissioner confirmed that Gray was not in a seat belt. Plenty of suspicion.

At least one anonymous person claiming to be an uninvolved Baltimore police officer says there is another side to the story:

Is his/her story trued? Of course I don't know. But isn't it foundational in the United States that we are innocent until proven guilty? And wouldn't this proof require us, at very least, to listen to more than one (entirely speculative) version?

Should this be investigated?

Yes. Thoroughly and completely. With facts and unbiased analysis. Without threats. Without lawlessness. Without vigilante justice. Without cronyism. Without decisions made based on public pressure. Like every other suspicious incident.

Should the officers lose their jobs and/or be imprisoned?

Until the facts are known, none of us should claim to know that answer. My opinion is that this looks really bad for the officers and unless there are some incredibly mitigating circumstances, they are toast. But none of us have heard the whole story. Let's at least be honest about that and wait for it.

We are a country that depends on and demands rule of law. That applies even when we are really bothered and even when we really want to assuage our guilt.

Is Freddie Gray's criminal record relevant?

Of course. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Gray had a rap sheet of drug offenses and theft as long as your arm, including multiple arrests in 2015 and going back to 2007. He was known to local cops for bad behavior. He used, manufactured, and distributed narcotics. He stole property. He had a pattern of harming others and disregarding the law.

Our own behavior matters and influences others.

Does Gray's criminal past mean he “deserved” to die?

This is always one of those ridiculously provocative questions that has no real answer, but only exists to inflame. It means nothing. (Did my dad “deserve to die”? Did Robes “deserve to die”? Come on, people.)

Wouldn't more progressive policies heal the city?

Baltimore hasn't had a republican mayor since 1967 nor a republican city council member since 1939. It has the fourth highest tax rate in the nation. It's working hard to be as progressive as it can get. (And yet poverty, crime, rioting, and looting…)

Isn't Baltimore a coven of whites who hate blacks?

I think not. In Baltimore the mayor is black, the police chief is black, 9/16th of the city council is black, and a majority of the police force are minorities.

Is it possible the officers were racist?

Yes. It's also possible that they are biased against repeat criminal offenders, biased against young men, biased against people who hang out in known drug distribution areas, etc.

As I began to write this post a number of days ago, I could find no reference to the races of the six officers. Today, as I prepared to publish the post, the officers' identities were revealed. Three of the six officers indicted are black. So how does that play out with all the race baiters? What does this mean for the liberal hue and cry excusing the criminals roaming the city?

6 Mugshots Police Baltimore

If this was a hate crime, shouldn't the officers be duly punished?

I'm not really a fan of “hate crimes.” The category implies a number of odd things:

  1. The other crimes are “love crimes” or at least emotionally-neutral crimes.
  2. People are less dead if killed by someone who didn't “hate” them for being in a particular (protected) class.
  3. We can actually divine motive.

How about we convict people for crimes and provide appropriate punishment/correction?

Is it possible the officers were intentionally brutal?

Yes. Power often corrupts. Anger often provokes. But if they were,  what is the appropriate response in America?

BattleCat weighs in. [Warning: very rough language, proceed at your own discretion.]

Is it possible the officers broke the law in how they dealt with Gray?

Yes. There were at least some disturbing protocol problems. That's what investigation is for.

Is it possible the officers unjustly pursued Gray only because of his past?

Yes. If you know someone to be untrustworthy and you see them in a compromising situation, you might be suspicious. But you could still be wrong.

Is it possible that Gray's own actions after his arrest required brute force?

Yes. People often resist arrest and threaten/antagonize police officers. Particularly people who have embraced a lifestyle of disregard for the law. Most protesters/organizers/sympathizers have no clue about law enforcement. At least there are some (like Jarrett Maupin) who have the intellectual integrity to admit this.

Is it possible that brute force could have resulted in his death without it being a miscarriage of justice?

Yes. Police should not be obligated to be maimed or killed by a suspect.

Shouldn't we worry more about the people than the property?

This is a classic false dilemma.

The position is that we must “focus” on Freddie Gray's tragic death and we must get our fuzzy feelies on for the “disenfranchised” thugs who have a laundry list of reasons why they would use someone's death as an excuse to pillage because they are people.

The position asserts that completing both of those imposed tasks precludes us from noticing that, well, pillaging might be a bad thing. And we can't, of course, note that it's particularly bad when the object of your aggression is utterly unrelated to the people you were supposedly harmed by. (In conservative parlance, those are “innocent victims.” In liberal circles they are “the complicit privileged.”)

It also ignores the fact that car owners and home owners and business owners and business employees are actually human beings, too. Humans who are harmed by criminal behavior. Humans who deserve to be safe in their cities and live their lives without the threat of thugs taking away their livelihoods and threatening their lives. Humans who had nothing whatsoever to do with the death of Freddie Gray.

Of course, we're not supposed to care about or talk about the pain and harm of law-abiding citizens, because liberalism has a very selective bleeding heart. And those human beings don't matter.

In other words, even though we cannot accurately judge the suspicious death that we did not see and do not have details about (yet), we must condemn the officers involved. Now. And ever though we can see masses of people in live footage smashing cars, looting businesses, and burning buildings, we can never condemn them. Ever.

A virtual friend of mine, Jonathan Gentry, has no problem calling out “the freeloader and the leach” with no sugar coating.

What did you do, besides loot, riot, and act the fool and burn up police cars in your own neighborhood.

 Amen, brother.

What about the “hypocrisy” of those who condone post-game “celebrating” while condemning protest violence?

It's weird, but I don't recall a whole slew of privileged whities (particularly not conservative ones) who cheered on ghastly displays of drunken brawling and burning after sporting events. Can someone point me to these thug apologists?

I may be wrong, but I'm guessing that anyone who made excuses for that kind of vandalism and destruction was a progressive and likely of the same ilk who are now making excuses for the current Baltimore lawlessness.

If I'm right, we can at least celebrate progressive consistency in supporting bad behavior and conservative consistency in condemning it?

Don't you understand the race oppression?

No. I'm about as white as a white can be. I'm embarrassingly white. I'm so white I have long been the poster child for proving how awesome other skin looks. (As in, “Alison, hold your arm up next to mine so everyone can see my gorgeous tan.”) I'm about as far away from being discriminated against for having  melanin as has ever been created.

I have been teased relentlessly for my freckles. (Does that count?) As a kid I used to sneak past my mom (aka “the woman who put UVAL in business” (UVAL is pretty much the original sunscreen from the olden days before anyone normal ever wore sunscreen)) to “lay out” in the back yard (becoming nothing but second degree crispy fried) hoping that my freckles would “fill in” so I could look normal. (It didn't work.) But anyway…no. I'm the white version of this man. I'm über white.

In addition to not being oppressed for being black (because I'm on the opposite spectrum), I do not understand race oppression because it's impossible to understand. It makes no sense at all. It's a color, for the love of pete. My entire life I've been baffled at the fact that some people actually care about a color so much. Whether it's skin or hair or another body part, it's just a color. How can anyone be that rationally impaired?

It's true that “my people” (that would be the Irish, thank you) were vilified, stereotyped, enslaved, and discriminated against in many ways (Celts were thought to be genetically inferior to Anglo-Saxons)  and “my people” (the Mormons) were killed and run out of town (again and again, along with the awesome extermination order courtesy of Governor Boggs). But I was raised to learn about the past as history and move forward.

Yes, I've still experienced a measure of discrimination for my religion and gender and complexion and hair and visual impairment and weight and a few other things. More than some, but far less than others. My job, as my parents put it, was to simply get to work. Work to improve my skills. Work to prove my capabilities. Work to disprove any prejudice or misconception (for whatever reason) I might encounter to the best of my ability. Any remaining vestiges of prejudice I encountered were simply part of life, a barrier but not a determiner.

The odd thing to me is that with so many examples of blacks who have displayed real power by becoming educated, displaying integrity, serving others, and working hard in this country, why do so many liberals still think most blacks can't follow that same path?

Why do we pander to these thuggish displays of power to grant them legitimacy? Why don't we promote morality, goodness, intelligence, loyalty, responsibility, competence, self-reliance, and other good things that truly empower individuals and benefit society as a whole?

No, I don't have all the answers to inner-city problems. Some people are speaking up with ideas which can be discussed and refined. But they can be solved and it starts with changing hearts and minds and families.

The Challenge

As with all other progressive “remedies” that cure nothing, I have a suggestion for those who have climbed on board the we-need-to-provide-space-to-destroy-to-prove-we-feel-the-pain bandwagon.

Your pseudo activism in the form of verbally (or legislatively) supporting harmful, destructive behavior in the name of solidarity proves nothing. A substantive response would require personal involvement and, yes, personal sacrifice. So those of you who really want to do something to help the poor thugs, get off your Facebook high horse and do this:

Send me your home address. (Please note: your home address is the place you live, not someone else's address, the address of your ex, the address of a one-percenter, or the address of someone you think has too much.) I will add it at the bottom of this post. By doing so you agree that anyone from Baltimore (or anywhere else) who is frustrated, angry, disenfranchised, bothered by voter ID laws, or otherwise needs to physically express their moral outrage and aggression toward authority will have free reign to loot, pillage, and destroy your home.

After all, isn't that what you are demanding of the law-abiding people of Baltimore?