The bridge is over*

2018/05/13

*(with apologies to legendary rapper KRS-One)

Several years ago, I changed the name of this blog from “Mild-Mannered Newspaperman” to “Bridge Over Troubled Opinions” in an attempt to look at the moderate side of every issue.

But the 2016 presidential campaign and the subsequent political and social ugliness seen in President Donald Trump’s first year and a half in office has made me abandon that endeavor. Because there’s one extreme I’m NOT going to play nice with:

White supremacy.

Back in April, a disturbed man (not naming him, sorry) wearing only a jacket, fired his military-style semi-automatic rifle in a Waffle House restaurant, killing four patrons (all black, incidentally). He was stopped from doing further damage by James Shaw Jr., who disarmed the gunman despite being weaponless. Shaw later raised funds for the funerals of the dead and even shunted money offered to himself personally off to other causes. He’s a bonafide hero.

But this meme right here.

Prefaced with hashtags #PoliceLivesMatter, #ThinBlueLine, the Twitter writer — we’ll call him the Twitt — has this to say:

“James Shaw Jr., 29, was able to overpower and disarm the Waffle House Shooter with his bare hands. Think about that next time a liberal tries to tell you that police officers shouldn’t feel threatened by an ‘unarmed’ black man.”

There is a TON of racist nonsense to unpack here.

First of all, I have to wonder if this a Russian troll rather than an actual American conservative. A USA Today study found that most of the Facebook ads bought by Russian meddlers focused on stoking racial division. Is this Twitter handle part of that effort as well?

Because if it isn’t, it’s not a good look for whatever portion of conservative White America this Twitt represents.

Is this a tacit admission that these white folks are so utterly bitchmade that they can’t so much as defend themselves unless they’re armed to the teeth?

And does the same go for police officers? One would hope not, that our protectors would be made of sterner stuff. But then one reads part of former cop Darren Wilson’s testimony on how much smaller and powerless he felt next to 18-year-old Michael Brown, whom he shot dead on that Ferguson, Missouri, road in 2014.

Oh, and look at how the Twitt threw “unarmed” in quotation marks, as if to suggest a black man is NEVER unarmed or undangerous as long as he has two free hands. I guess this is why we’re shot and killed by police at a higher frequency than white suspects.

Finally, and most perniciously, the Twitt wants to ascribe the ability of this hero, Mr. Shaw, to fight off a killer, to every single black man in the nation. As though we are all made from the same cloth.

There’s nothing more racist than to take one solitary person’s actions and assume — or recommend one should assume — that an ENTIRE PEOPLE are the same.

The Twitt here has done it backward. One needs to look at the history and actions of an entire people and culture. Then one must look at how that culture is shaped — and then see where in the spectrum a solitary person’s actions rest.

That’s one of the things I’ll be doing with this blog, going forward, when warranted: looking at how America’s culture of white supremacy affects us all. And affect us all it does.

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