Alexander's Column

Talking With a Democrat About 'Systemic Racism' and Other Social Issues...

The cognitive versus emotive interpretation of events often creates the communication disconnect between Right and Left.

Mark Alexander · Jun. 10, 2020
“If the people are capable of understanding, seeing and feeling the differences between true and false, right and wrong, virtue and vice, to what better principle can the friends of mankind apply than to the sense of this difference?” —John Adams (1775)

Two weeks ago, a black Minneapolis man died under a knee takedown by a white police officer in what, at best, was gross negligence. At worst, that negligence may have reflected a bad cop’s discriminatory racial predisposition and thereby contributed to the circumstances of George Floyd’s death.

As a former uniformed police officer, I am very reluctant to accept without substantial review the mainstream media’s ad-revenue-driven race bait on a racially charged case. This race issue was already primed by the shooting death of a black man in Georgia by two white men.

Upon viewing the video of Mr. Floyd’s death, I knew I didn’t need to see any additional body-cam recordings to determine his death was wrongful. He was handcuffed, there were three other officers (of various races) present, and additional officers were on the way. Floyd appeared compliant, posed no further threat to the officers or bystanders, and indicated he was distressed and having trouble breathing.

His death was unjust. The four officers at the scene have been arrested and charged and, ironically, will be prosecuted by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who himself has a long history of provoking racial hatred as an acolyte of fellow Islamist Louis Farrakhan and other black-supremacist haters.

In the 16 days since Floyd died, the unmitigated violence that followed in Minneapolis and then nationwide, organized in large part by white anarchist opportunists, has resulted in the unjust death of 17 more people. An estimated 12,000 “protesters” have been arrested for violent assaults and looting, resulting in thousands of injuries and hundreds of millions of dollars in damages — mostly in urban centers — and forever closing many minority-owned businesses and others serving those communities.

Nationwide, a generous estimate of the number of peaceful protesters is about three million. That means about 330 million of your fellow Americans did not participate, even with lockdown fever and 13% unemployment. However, that doesn’t mean most of us weren’t deeply offended by the injustice of Floyd’s death — and, in turn, the violence being perpetrated in his name. Even leftist Minnesota Governor Tim Walz declared, after a few days of those “protests” had devolved into violence, “The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd. It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear, and disrupting our great cities.”

For the record, who was in charge when Floyd died? In Minneapolis: The mayor, all but one (Green Party) member of the city council, the police chief, the county prosecutor, and the U.S. House district representative (radical leftist Ilhan Abdullahi Omar) are all Socialist Democrats. In the state of Minnesota: The governor, the state attorney general (radical leftist Keith Ellison) and both U.S. Senate members are all Democrats.

So where exactly does the change need to begin?

As for these disruptive “protests,” there are three primary categories of those who are always ready to act on actual or perceived instances of “social injustice.”

First are the Democrat Party politicians and their Leftmedia outlets that use every instance of injustice to promote division among their constituencies. Their two favorite lures are gender and race. Most elected Demos know the callous political calculus of these issues and play the game well, even if it results in the perennial destruction of their urban centers.

The second group is composed of the so-called “Black Lives Matter” Marxists mobs who shower violence and destruction mostly on their own neighborhoods. Typically, the BLM leaders and their cadres of anarchist agitators are small in number, but their attacks enjoy organic participation from the communities they ostensibly represent, fueling their “Burn-Loot-Murder” riots.

The third group consists of primarily Democrat constituents who form the massively disruptive protest marches which are ubiquitously labeled “peaceful.” That group is largely motivated by Demo politicos who cultivate their constituents to be “useful idiots” — especially their largest voter bloc, females, whom they treat like emotionally incontinent children. The manifestation of that emotional incontinence is commonly called “Trump Derangement Syndrome” and “toxic femininity.”

This latter group is typically well-meaning, mostly good, and responsible people who want to express their strong feelings about things that they believe are unfair or unjust. George Floyd’s death was, in fact, both. While sometimes the expression of those feelings is substantive, other times it amounts to mere virtue signaling.

The most thematic mantra that unites and incites the above groups is the sweeping generalization of “systemic racism,” a term implying both individual and institutional racism. Any incident between a white police officer and non-white assailant can become fodder for the “systemic racism” claim, but this is a false assertion — a violent and costly “straw man” fomented by a political agenda. Ensuring that there will always be such fodder is the fact that most police officers, as reflected by race per capita, are white. A disproportionate number of criminal offenders are black. Consequently the probability of a white police officer involved in the death of a black suspect is statistically, very high.

This is not to say that racial bias does not exist, but it isn’t baked into every aspect of our existence as Americans.

So, how do we resolve the great divide between conservatives and liberals when discussing racially charged incidents? Understanding the origin of that divide is instructive — it often stems from a cognitive versus emotive interpretation of events.

Cognitive processors sometimes fail to convey an empathic understanding of an issue, while emotive processors tend to be overwhelmed with empathic feelings about it. The real disconnect starts when emotive interpretation neglects the facts, and cognitive understanding fails to recognize the feelings. In debate, this constitutes the proverbial mix of oil and water — which are quick to separate.

Ask liberals about something they are passionate about, and they most often predicate their response with, “Because I feel…” Ask conservatives about something they are passionate about, and they most often predicate their response with, “Because I think…”

To better understand the context for the cognitive and emotive disconnect, here is an illustration of an online conversation with a well-educated Millennial white woman who’s been steeped in liberalism in her home, and hometown, Baltimore, Maryland – one of the East Coast’s most liberal cities and states.

That conversation began when she took strong exception to a case I made tying racially charged police-involved confrontations with generational Democrat social policies that make such confrontations inevitable.

Here’s how the conversation exposed the cognitive/emotive disconnect…

She: “The sheer number of unarmed black people who are killed by police as compared to other groups reveals police brutality for what it is: systemic racism. You have to look at the systemic patterns of policing and how they disproportionately result in the deaths of BLACK people — DECADES of oppression and violence against black people in this country that has gone unanswered and largely been met with silence by the majority of white people.”

Me: “Neither I nor anyone I know would tolerate any degree of racial discrimination, especially from those sworn to uphold the law. But I am not inclined to cast broad and inaccurate generalizations about law enforcement based on the death of Floyd or the gross negligence of the officer(s) involved. On the subject of ‘violence against black people,’ do you know how many black men were murdered by other black men in your city the same weekend Floyd was killed? Do you know any one of their names?”

She: “Referring to intercommunal crime is completely off-topic. Not addressing systemic racism within our country’s systems is being part of the problem. I just wanted to express my views because I feel that as white folks, our main job right now is to support communities of color that are victims of a system that has been hurting them for decades.”

Me: “I appreciate your perspective, though you avoided my question. In fact there were seven black people murdered by other black people in your city the weekend of George Floyd’s death. You can’t name any one of them because those deaths are not suitable fodder for the Democrats’ narrative and agenda. But it is the Demos’ statist policies that have created impoverished urban centers that are irrevocably linked to conflicts between citizens in those communities and law enforcement. Apparently, those black lives don’t matter.”

She: “The two are unrelated.”

Me: “Well, can you name the elderly white couple from your small home state who were murdered by a black assailant while visiting their son’s gravesite in a veteran’s cemetery two weeks before Mr. Floyd’s death?”

She: “Again, unrelated.”

Me: “Allow me this observation: The ‘systemic racism’ canard is a rhetorical caricature of the reality those of us who are or have been in law enforcement experience in service to our communities and our nation. There are people who hold racist views on ALL sides, and there is no room for it anywhere. That is especially true among the ranks of those charged with upholding the law — bad cops need to be purged. But as Heather Mac Donald’s recent research makes clear, there is no ‘systemic racism’ in our system of justice and no epidemic of racist police shootings.”

She: “If you truly see systemic racism as a rhetorical caricature, then I don’t know how to have a meaningful conversation with you. It is so blatant.”

Me: “To have a ‘meaningful conversation’ requires having a full conversation, not just half of it — unless you want to perpetuate for the next 50 years the policy failures of the so-called ‘Great Society’ over the last 50 years. Arguably, the Democrat Party is, at the same time, the author and beneficiary of the real ‘systemic racism’ that keeps black people oppressed. Democrats were and remain the party of black oppressors.” The Democrat Party is the most enduring monument to racism in America.

The bottom line here is that there is a disconnect between strong and legitimate feelings and the need for a larger conversation considering factual data if we are to achieve some mutually agreed upon solutions. Making that objective more difficult, emotive/empathic processors are often blinded to the proposition that the policies they embrace that feels right, actually exacerbate the conditions that they feel so strongly about resolving. In many cases where such emotive convictions are held by young white people, I would describe that as “white privilege”!

Given a lifetime of observing this communication obstruction, and the manipulating constituent emotions, Thomas Sowell, senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, declared flatly: “Emotions neither prove nor disprove facts. There was a time when any rational adult understood this.”

On race-bait fodder, Sowell concludes: “Racism is not dead. But it is on life-support, kept alive mainly by the people who use it for an excuse or to keep minority communities fearful or resentful enough to turn out as a voting bloc on election day. … Have we become a country whose leaders are charlatans, and whose people are sheep?”

Considering the communication breakdown between emotive and cognitive interpretations, decades ago Ronald Reagan wryly noted, “The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

The young woman in the previously referenced conversation is certainly not ignorant. I admire her and, in fact, had we been able to converse in person, we might have reached a closer understanding, a bridge between the fact that social policies creating and maintaining impoverished urban centers are irrevocably linked to a higher rate of interactions with police.

But bridging that gap in general is a long uphill slog. As Joe Biden said, “We choose truth over facts.” In other words, what feels like the truth takes precedent over the facts.

For the record, nowhere is the cognitive/emotive breakdown more evident than in the current absurd movement to “Defund the Police.” This movement is all about strong feelings and devoid of material facts — most notably that a lack of law enforcement will hit minority communities hardest. If black lives really mattered, there would be no need for such pandering discussion. And for what it is worth, on a per capita basis, European nations have 50% more police than we do in the U.S.

Barack Obama demonized cops with deadly results — for cops. Today’s leftist Democrats have taken that rhetoric to a dangerous new level, manipulating data to support their false narrative about cops, and promoting their pandering defund the police agenda. A quick look at the results in Seattle reveals where that will lead.

Heather Mac Donald has thoroughly documented the racial disparity of interracial crimes. According to the latest Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of criminal victimization (2018), Mac Donald notes: “There were 593,598 interracial violent victimizations … between blacks and whites last year, including white-on-black and black-on-white attacks. Blacks committed 537,204 of those interracial felonies, or 90 percent, and whites committed 56,394 of them, or less than 10 percent.” This disparity is greatly amplified by the fact that black Americans represent 13% of our population but perpetrate 90% of violent interracial crimes.

Mac Donald adds, “That ratio is becoming more skewed, despite the Democrat claim of Trump-inspired white violence. In 2012-13, blacks committed 85 percent of all interracial victimizations between blacks and whites; whites committed 15 percent. From 2015 to 2018, the total number of white victims and the incidence of white victimization have grown as well.” Mac Donald concludes: “Blacks are also overrepresented among perpetrators of hate crimes — by 50 percent — according to the most recent Justice Department data from 2017; whites are underrepresented by 24 percent. This is particularly true for anti-gay and anti-Semitic hate crimes.”

Equally alarming is the fact that, in the latest year for available data where victim race was known, there were 4,884 white people murdered and 6,318 black people murdered – and black-on-black assault is much more prevalent than white-on-white. The overall murder trend dropped substantially since 1993, though it ticked up in 2010 and in 2015. But again, the fact that black citizens are 13 percent of the population, but the black murder victim rate is 22% higher than for white victims, should be the starting place for every meaningful conversation about resolving the issues associated with violence.

This gross racial disparity in criminal assailants is not a new issue, as made clear by a 2015 Harvard study on black-on-black violence. In that study, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg noted: “Ninety percent of all people killed in our city — and 90 percent of all those who commit the murders and other violent crimes — are black and Hispanic. It is shameful that so many elected officials and editorial writers have been largely silent on these facts.” Review again what the liberal Democrat police chief in Milwaukee said about this disparity in 2014, which we covered here, after a racially-charged death of a black man by a white officer.

Further, this racial disparity is also true in other crime categories, which dispels the assertion that somehow prisons have more black inmates because of “systemic racism.”

And regarding those policies, the most alarming data on murder is that the suspect in 88% of black murders, is also black. Don’t expect to hear a single objection about either of those issues from Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, or Chuck Schumer.

But Democrat politicians studiously avoid any discussion of this disparity because it would require studious consideration of the policies that have created it.

As for the Democrats’ disgraceful and deadly blame-shifting charade claiming their epic urban failures are a “police problem,” the words of one NYPD top cop who just resigned in protest sum up the issue that the majority of cops experience as they put their lives on the line for fellow citizens every day. NYPD’s Deputy Inspector Richard Brea, who received a hero’s farewell last week, including an NYPD helicopter fly-by and NYPD bagpipers, declared as he departed his Bronx precinct, “[Cops’] blood is in the concrete of every street corner, but these politicians don’t want to remember that. They want to blame and vilify everyone here. I won’t have that. No sir.”

Meanwhile, New York City – like Chicago, [Atlanta]https://patriotpost.us/articles/71804-atlantas-aftermath-2020-06-30) and many other Democrat-controlled urban centers – is spiraling into a lawless pit. In his recent letter to Chicago’s Mayor and Illinois’ governor, Trump wrote: “More Americans have been killed in Chicago than in combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq combined since September 11, 2001, a deadly trend that has continued under your tenure… Your lack of leadership on this important issue continues to fail the people you have sworn to protect.”

Regarding the “police reform” narrative based on the assumption of “systemic racism,” former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy notes: “The racism narrative is driving the nation to ruin. … The object of the game is patent. Using the hocus-pocus of ‘disparate impact’ theory, Democrats will argue that the disproportionately high percentage of black males in forcible police incidents is conclusive evidence of racism. Such factors as disproportionately high incidence of criminal behavior, and the race (often black) of the responding police officers will be ignored (the individual’s race makes no difference, you see, if the institution is racist — indeed, incorrigibly so).”

And regarding police use of deadly force, Wall Street Journal Editorial Board member Jason Riley notes: “Police shootings have fallen precipitously since the 1970s. … Empirical studies have found no racial bias in police use of deadly force, and that the racial disparities that do exist stem from racial differences in criminal behavior. The problem isn’t a shortage of data but a race-based narrative that is immune to any data that challenge it.”

Unfortunately, the fact that violent black assailants are far more prevalent in inner-cities is the data-driven reason why police officers of any race often approach black suspects with a greater sense of caution — if they want to survive their shift.

To the point, after a lifetime observing how the Left has manipulated black constituents, Walter E. Williams notes: “The true plight of black people has little or nothing to do with the police or what has been called ‘systemic racism.’ We need to look at the responsibilities of those running our big cities.”

As a long-time Patriot Post supporter wrote this week: “As a black American male who was raised in the inner city, I am angry at the reaction of the hypocrites in Congress, corporate America, and their media outlets. If ‘black lives (really) mattered,’ they would stop ignoring the pandemic of black on black crime that has been raging through their cities for years. Hypocrisy won’t solve the real problems in our urban centers, but changing the policies which keep poor black Americans enslaved on what amount to ‘poverty plantations’ will.”

Finally, Reagan also wisely observed, “We must reject the idea that every time a law is broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”

Emotive responses tend to diminish that accountability, but we should strive to bridge the emotive/cognitive gap.

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

(Updated)


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