When something noteworthy happens, people are often quick to talk and slow to listen, short on facts and long on information. This haste makes sense for people who are paid to break the news while it’s still hot. That’s why it’s called “breaking news”; otherwise, it would be called “broken news.” And yet, the news is often broken to us in ways that aren’t accurate. I don’t mean to say that the news isn’t factual but that the facts are stated in ways that obscure the truth. For instance, “say” and “state” indicate speech, “imply” and “suggest” indicate uncertainty, and “claim” and “allege” indicate a stronger degree of uncertainty bordering on intentionality (if not on the part of the speaker, then certainly on the part of the journalist). While a proper use of these words can prevent inaccuracies, an improper use of them can spread misinformation. For some, reading between the lines becomes second nature, like noting grammatical errors without necessarily caring that they’re there. But for those who lack this skill, a little knowledge can be dangerous for many.
This is one small example of how the media can manipulate language. We saw this during the 2016 election, which subsequently led to the fake news scandal. This wasn’t just a smear tactic initiated by Trump to discredit a less-than-worshipful media. Even liberal journalists like Margaret Sullivan admit to being out of touch with the people who voted for him, making them partially responsible for his election. Ironically, Sullivan’s article isn’t so much an apology as it is a defense, and her portrayal of conservatives as angry, bigoted rustics—in comparison to the morally enlightened liberal media—is another example of language manipulation. I noticed it again when I was researching the death of George Floyd, but I wanted to wait for people’s justifiable outrage to simmer down before sharing the following observations:
1. Use of Undue Force by Law Enforcement
It should go without saying that the use of undue force by the police is a miscarriage of justice and a violation of their sworn duty to ensure the safety of their fellow citizens. If the arresting officers had upheld their Code of Ethics and Oath of Honor, George Floyd would still be alive. That said, his death would’ve been equally tragic if he’d been Asian—or Caucasian—or Hispanic/Latino. The root of the crime wasn’t racial; it was moral.
2. Non-White Killings as Proof of Racism
But racial crimes are immoral, you protest—and you’re right. But we have no proof that George Floyd’s death was motivated by race. All we have is the suggestion that his death was motivated by race. And without proof, all we have is hearsay. Rumor may thrive on hearsay but the law does not. How is condemning someone without proof less of a miscarriage of justice than kneeling on someone’s neck? The officers involved lost their jobs. The one in charge lost his wife. They all face trial and perhaps prison. By all means, be angry, but for God’s sake, be just.
3. Racism as Proof of Systematic White Supremacy
Nowadays, accusations of “racism” are quickly followed by cries of “white supremacy” and “systematic oppression.” The media is quick to suggest that non-white killings are not only motivated by race but also proof of a deeper, wider endemic. They may be right, but they fail to notice (or purposely ignore) that many of these so-called “white supremacists” are actually black—and Asian—and Hispanic/Latino. Of the four officers who apprehended George Floyd, one was black and one was Asian. The only one who showed any concern for his welfare was white. This is supported by corroborating evidence of each officer’s involvement. With the possible exception of Frank Nucera Jr. (whose surname is Italian), non-white officers accused of extreme measures in the recent past include Terrence Mercadal, who shot Stephon Clark on March 18, 2018; Mohamed Noor, who shot Justine Damond on July 15, 2017; Jeronimo Yanez, who shot Philando Castile on July 6, 2016; and Caesar R. Goodson Jr., William G. Porter, and Alicia D. White, who used fatal restraint to apprehend Freddie Gray on April 12, 2015.
This isn’t to diminish the apparent prevalence of white officers involved in predominantly black killings but to point out that we live in a multiracial society. Not everyone who serves in law enforcement is Caucasian. Furthermore, racism, bigotry, and discrimination exist in many forms throughout the world. If you think things are bad in America, educate yourself about child soldiers and women in Africa. Read about India’s “subhuman” Dalits (“Untouchables”). Consider the penalties for being LGBTQ in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the UK is still enslaved to its turgid class system; the only issue Europeans fundamentally agree on is their collective, “inherent” superiority to everyone else; and don’t even get me started on everything that’s wrong with Russia.
Only people as privileged as Americans could so easily and conveniently take their freedoms for granted. This is the price we pay for being a culture that doesn’t read and for allowing our ideologically lopsided media to focus on issues at home at the expense of the broader dialogue. As with individuals, any country that doesn’t have a healthy degree of comparison is going to end up with a warped self-concept.
4. George Floyd as Saint and Martyr
In order to suggest a racial crime carried out by “white supremicists,” the media must, by necessity, rewrite the role George Floyd played in his own death. Oddly, none of the articles I initially read about the tragedy indicated what he’d allegedly done to demand police attention in the first place. The implication of the omission was that the officers involved had spontaneously decided to gang up on an innocent man simply because he was black. Later, his so-called “innocence” began to border on righteousness, as people paid tribute to the dead.
We saw similar reactions to the death of Kobe Bryant, an NBA player once accused of raping a 19-year-old, as if being a superstar somehow made him a saint. Throughout his initial interview with sheriff’s investigators, we see a man who cares less about the allegations than their impact on his career, his image, and (last of all) his marriage (pp. 4, 9). My favorite part is when he casually lets drop the fact that he’s already cheated on his wife of two years, multiple times, with someone named Michelle (pp. 36–37, 48). Later, he adds insult to injury by claiming that his alleged victim—whose name he may not remember (p. 5, l. 133) and whose testimony he doesn’t care about (p. 9., l. 277)—“wasn’t that attractive” (p. 33, l. 1018). It’s odd that a black sports star should become more famous in the wake of a rape allegation, thanks in part to his bizarrely supportive wife, but that similar lenience would be denied to a white policeman accused of murder. Could this be evidence of the “white supremacy” and “American imperialism” that people like Colin Kaepernick are always banging on about?
On further investigation into the death of George Floyd, I discovered that he was apprehended for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill—a petty crime, to be sure, but one that was in keeping with his police record. A drug user with nine previous arrests, Floyd’s most serious conviction occurred in 2007, when he committed aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. While these facts don’t justify hate crimes or undue force, they do help to explain law enforcement’s trigger-happy attitude toward potential suspects, as well as people’s hesitancy to blame the police as blindly as liberals would like. This isn’t an attempt to justify “police officers’ actions when Black men are killed in custody,” as the article suggests, but to rationalize—if by “rationalize” you mean “make sense of”—what happened. Next they’ll be suggesting that all research is a form of bias and that legal trials are an example of inflicting your own morality onto someone else—a moral judgement that, if executed, would let men like Derek Chauvin clean off the hook.
As a result of the liberals’ hypocritical, partisan vitriol, my mental outrage at Floyd’s death is swallowed up by my emotional outrage at the media’s coverage of it. I acknowledge that his death was a tragedy while feeling more outraged at the way that liberals leverage minority issues to further their own agenda. They make themselves out to be the vox populi (“voice of the people”) while using the collective minority as a mouthpiece for everyone.
5. Destruction of Public and Private Property
Rioting, looting, vandalism, and arson seem a pretty poor way to honor someone’s memory. To be honest, it sounds more in keeping with the George Floyd as was than the George Floyd that many people have made him out to be. True, the Suffragettes, or First-Wave Feminists, used similar tactics to gain women the vote, but they did so with a specifically stated goal. Minorities already have the right to vote. Now, thanks to the looting associated with the peaceful protests, they also have couture handbags. So, besides stealing things that don’t belong to them to protest things they don’t have, what precisely do they, the liberals, and the liberal media want and how are they hoping to accomplish it?
I once asked a liberal the same question about the Occupy Movement, which was widely criticized for lacking a clear-cut objective. He said he had no idea. When I asked him how the protestors were qualifying a just minimum wage in comparison to that of, say, an Asian sweatshop worker, he shrugged and said, “That’s just how they do things over there.” I suspect that most liberals care less about the universal rights of man than they do about the socioeconomic/political issues that concern them personally. But they need the anger of likeminded people to justify their own, in the same way that we can always count on our “true” friends to stick up for us—even if we’re wrong.
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