Justice only looks like chaos to the unjust

The Washington Post headline this morning was “Chaotic Minneapolis protests spread amid emotional calls for justice, peace”, and it’s illustrated with this photo:

I ask, where’s the chaos? I see a small group of calm people standing victorious before the ruins of a criminal enterprise. The people speaking for the community clearly see where the chaos was coming from.

“There are folks reacting to a violent system,” McDowell said. “You can replace property, you can replace businesses, you can replace material things, but you can’t replace a life. That man is gone forever because some cop felt like he had the right to take his life. A lot of folks are tired of that. They’re not going to take it anymore.”

That’s why, he said, “Minneapolis is burning.”

Chaos is when the people delegated to preserve the peace are murdering people in the street for non-violent offenses. Chaos is heavily armed cops oppressing the communities they’re supposed to safeguard. Chaos is the district attorney waffling over whether to charge a cop for murder when they have video of the man slowly throttling another to death in public. Chaos is the absence of justice.

This is Minneapolis, a pleasant city full of good people trying to get by. It’s not Gotham City, and it never needed a crew of Batman-wannabes to keep the peace.

Maybe the city deserves to burn

There’s been more rioting in Minneapolis, although I’m strongly suspecting that agents provocateur have been at work. Take, for instance, this fellow who was recorded leaving after some AutoZone windows were smashed.

White guy, all in black, with a fancy gas mask, smashing windows with a hammer and then immediately leaving? Sure, that’s normal. I do wonder if he’s a cop trying to stir up trouble to make the murderers on the force look less guilty.

I deplore the destruction of property in South Minneapolis, but even more I deplore the deeply-seated racism and violence in the Minneapolis police. If it takes riots to break the back of the criminal enterprise that we call “law enforcement”, let it be so. Let it burn until the moneyed interests that hold all the power realize that letting a goon squad control the city is not profitable, since that seems to be all they care about. Rise up, good merchants, and let City Hall know that these assholes have to be removed, the police have to be demilitarized, and there has to be a major change in how crime is controlled.

Stripping the police of power and privilege is a good start. My university is making a few changes in how they interact with the police. President Joan Gabel:

Today I am announcing two immediate changes regarding our relationship with MPD.

First, I have directed Senior Vice President Brian Burnett to no longer contract with the Minneapolis Police Department for additional law enforcement support needed for large events, such as football games, concerts, and ceremonies.

Second, I have directed University Police Chief Matt Clark to no longer use the Minneapolis Police Department when specialized services are needed for University events, such as K-9 Explosive detection units.

We have a responsibility to uphold our values and a duty to honor them. We will limit our collaboration with the MPD to joint patrols and investigations that directly enhance the safety of our community or that allow us to investigate and apprehend those who put our students, faculty, and staff at risk.

It’s about time that someone realized that the MPD as structured is a detriment to the peace and safety of our communities.

Also relevant:

I was in that store once before! It was strangely laid out, and it was awkward navigating in there, unlike the suburban Targets I’m more familiar with. That explains a lot.

Also important: the Minnesota Freedom Fund accepts donations to help bail out citizens held by the Minnesota Persecution Department.

A politician finally asks the obvious question

We should be asking this kind of question after every instance of police brutality. They need to be put on a tighter leash. Arresting the responsible policemen and charging them with a crime is a start…although even there, I expect our corrupt justice system would let them off eventually.

“Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?” Frey asked. “If you had done it or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now.”

“We cannot turn a blind eye,” Frey said, calling on Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to file charges against the officer two days after the incident.

There is also a security cam video at the link of the moments before he was murdered, in which he is dragged out of the car and put in handcuffs. He’s clearly unhappy and distressed and is passively resisting, but there’s nothing in his behavior that warrants police violence or murder.


No surprise, the police are violent everywhere. But they’re selectively violent, and it shows. When hundreds of unarmed citizens gathered to protest the police murdering a citizen, they got the usual response: police in riot gear marching out and hitting them with rubber bullets and tear gas.

Protesters filled the intersection where Floyd died, carrying banners that read, “I can’t breathe” and “Jail killer KKKops.”

They later marched to a police station where officers in riot gear confronted them and deployed tear gas and fired projectiles. As rain fell, some protesters kicked canisters toward police.

The protesters made the classic error of not showing up with shields and AR-15s and rocket launchers. If they had, the chickenshit police would have stayed in hiding in their station. It’s open season on peaceful protests, especially ones that criticize our thin-skinned cops.

Oh, also, they weren’t white. Terrible mistake. Never protest while brown, because the police are agents of a white supremacist government.

Quick followups

The woman who accused a man of threatening her life in Central Park: FIRED.

By the way, the victim of that accusation was Christian Cooper.

Cooper has written stories for Marvel Comics Presents, which often feature Ghost Rider and Vengeance. He has also edited a number of X-Men collections ,and introduced the first gay male character, Yoshi Mishima, in a Star Trek comic. Previously he was president of the Harvard Ornithological Club, in the 1980s, and is currently a senior biomedical editor at Health Science Communications.

Sounds like the kind of guy — you know, Harvard graduate, bird-watcher, writer for comic books, science editor — who would wander the parks terrorizing innocent white women.

The cops who participated in the murder of a man on the Minneapolis streets: FIRED. Four of ’em.

The Minneapolis mayor had a few words to say.

“Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a Tuesday press conference. “For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a black man’s neck. Five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you’re supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense. What happened on Chicago and 38th last night is awful. It was traumatic. It serves as a reminder of how far we have to go.”

ACAB. Always ACAB.

Don’t watch this video if you’d rather not see a cop slowly murder a man. Minneapolis police responded to a “forgery in progress”, whatever that is, although it sounds like a non-violent crime to me; they found a man sitting in a car, “under the influence”, and we’re still in non-violent territory; the cops then escalated everything, getting him into handcuffs and on the ground. Then, while he’s helpless and handcuffed, surrounded by at least 3 cops, one of Minneapolis’s Finest puts his knee on the man’s neck and pins him there.

I guess they expected to be overpowered by a bound drunk man.

The cop kept pressure on the man’s neck while he moaned and repeatedly said he was in pain and that he couldn’t breathe. He gradually stops moving, apparently stops breathing, and is later declared dead. That cop just kept crushing his neck, even as it was obvious there could be no further resistance.

Our men in blue! Fire ’em all. None of them even suggested to the cop kneeling on the man’s neck that maybe he could lighten up a little.

The one bright spot in this horrific incident are the Minneapolis citizens who record and vocally protest the police violence as it happens. Everyone is still cowed by the armed cops, but as their moral authority continues to erode, as they become nothing but thugs in uniforms, that will change, as long as they continue to think they are above the mere citizenry.

It always embarrassed Samuel Vimes when civilians tried to speak to him in what they thought was “policeman.” If it came to that, he hated thinking of them as civilians. What was a policeman, if not a civilian with a uniform and a badge? But they tended to use the term these days as a way of describing people who were not policemen. It was a dangerous habit: once policemen stopped being civilians the only other thing they could be was soldiers.
Terry Pratchett

Two of the cops have been put on paid leave.

But Amy Cooper is a racist

You’ve probably already heard this story of a woman in Central Park who was letting her dog run off-leash and called the cops on a black man recording her behavior.

“I’m taking a picture and calling the cops,” Amy Cooper is heard saying in the video. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”

That’s become mundane and ordinary. Beckys and Karens expressing their dismay at black people just living ordinary lives is common, it seems.

But this is extraordinary: she offers her excuse.

“I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,” she said, adding that she also didn’t mean any harm to the African American community.

Wait a minute. That’s patently false. There’s a huge disconnect between what she did, what she says, and how she now rationalizes it.

She explicitly called the police to tell them a black man was threatening her life (he wasn’t). If she wasn’t racist, why even mention that he was black? Because she assumed just the existence of a black man was threatening. She did intend to do him harm; telling the police that someone was threatening your life is requesting the authorities to step in and question and detain and possibly arrest them. That’s doing harm, no question. Using the color of his skin to feed the stereotype of dangerous black people is harming their community.

That’s just as racist and harmful as what Carolyn Bryant did. It’s curious to see how stupidly she denies it.

This image has been photoshopped

Currently making the rounds:

I was suspicious, though. It’s too good to be true. So I snooped about, and found the original on the ADL website.

OK, now, really — who thought they needed to edit the original sign to make it less evil and more obviously stupid? That was a waste of effort. Just an unretouched photo of these clowns in their costumes with their traitor’s flags and their blatant anti-semitism is appalling enough, don’t you think?

The ‘elites’ will be fine, the merely competent will suffer

We sometimes speak of the American university, as if it is all one thing, where you’ll attend and be pampered for four years and pop out at graduation to a job and a well-paid career. Corey Robin exposes the inequities of the university system by comparing City University of New York, a massive public university, to the Ivy League colleges.

For decades, a handful of boutique colleges and powerhouse universities have served as emblems of our system of higher education. If they are not the focus of discussion, they are the subtext, shaping our assumptions about the typical campus experience. This has remained true during the pandemic. The question of reopening has produced dozens of proposals, but most of them are tenable only for schools like Brown; they don’t obtain in the context of Brooklyn College. The coronavirus has seeded a much-needed conversation about building a more equal society. It’s time for a similar conversation about the academy.

In academia, as in the rest of society, a combination of public and private actors directs wealth to those who need it least. While cuny struggles to survive decades of budget cuts—and faces, in the pandemic, the possibility of even more—donors lavish elite colleges and universities with gifts of millions, even billions, of dollars. Sometimes these donations fund opportunities for low-income students, but mostly they serve as tax-deductible transfers to rich, private institutions, depriving the public of much-needed revenue. What taxes federal and state governments do collect may be returned to those institutions in the form of hefty grants and contracts, which help fund operating budgets that Brooklyn College can only dream of. This is the song of culture in our society. The bass line is wealth and profit; the melody is diversity and opportunity.

It seems that massive endowments only get more massive year after year, while the smaller public colleges are reduced to begging for scraps from state governments. We’re expected to do just as much as universities swimming in money from wealthy alumni, for less, with less support and less press.

There’s also a significant distinction: rich people send their kids to the already-rich private universities; everyone sends their kids to the community colleges, the state universities, the small public colleges. When you pretend an Ivy League college is representative, and when you starve the state-funded institutions, you are making the wealthy wealthier and the poor poorer. You are also killing a major engine of class mobility, which I sometimes suspect is the actual purpose.

Yet, for all the talk of the poor and students of color at the Ivy League, the real institutions of mobility in the United States are underfunded public universities. Paxson [Brown University president and the deputy chair of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, because that’s the kind of person who ends up running wealthy universities] may believe that “a university campus is a microcosm of any major city in the U.S.,” as she told NPR, but cuny is no microcosm. With nearly two hundred and seventy-five thousand students and forty-five thousand staff—a population larger than that of many American cities—it is what the Latin root of the word “university” tells us higher education should be: the entire, the whole. More than seventy-five per cent of our undergraduate students are nonwhite. Sixty-one per cent receive Pell Grants, and the same percentage have parents who did not graduate from college. At City College and Baruch College, seventy-six and seventy-nine per cent of students, respectively, start out in the bottom quintile of the income distribution and wind up in one of the top three quintiles. For hundreds of thousands of working-class students, in other words, a cash-starved public university is their gateway to the middle or upper-middle class.

In my career, I’ve been educated at state universities and only taught a state universities. I’ve visited the famous big name schools, like Princeton and UPenn and Yale, and mainly been struck by the disparities in privilege, not any differences in quality of content. We have to work harder in state colleges, and even harder in community colleges, but we bring the same information to the students, and the same opportunities. The only advantage to the expensive private schools is the opportunity to mingle with other people who can afford them — you don’t learn more, if that’s what you’re after, you just get to make connections with other spoiled rich kids.

What worries me now is that I see state legislatures, which are always keen to take a butcher knife to education at all levels, seeing the pandemic and economic failure as a reason to cut education to the bone, which is incredibly short-sighted, fails to see the need for building long-term investment in the human infrastructure of our society, and is going to hit the poorest population, the people who have the most to gain, hardest, while the wealthy institutions are unaffected. The economic inequities in the US have been expanding for a long time, and are a source of inefficiency and corruption already, and they’re just going to grow further in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Boy, the extinction spiral is a wild and depressing ride.

Michelle Malkin still has a fanbase? And it’s enhanced by including Milo?

Milo Yawannapissoff and Michelle Malkin have been collaborating, and the results are even more awful than you can probably imagine. They decided to work together to create an “America First” reading list for their followers. Just from their choice of subject you can tell it’s going to be a collection of racists’ greatest hits.

So what’s on it? Lots of Ann Coulter and Dinesh D’Souza, obscure racist tracts and not so obscure racist fiction, like The Turner Diaries, Jared Taylor and Charles Murray and Vox Day, and categorized as “U.S. politics, Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. The cherry on top? They include The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. They also toss in a scattering of genuine Western classics like The Odyssey and The Divine Comedy, but really, they’re only there to put a shiny sugary glaze on the pile of shit they think are valuable contributions to the canon. It’s also rather demeaning to lump A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man with In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome.

They provide summary blurbs to go with the books. The Iliad is “What it’s like to be around an unstoppable killing machine.” Mein Kampf is “History’s most demented autodidact sets out his political vision.” Kevin MacDonald’s deeply racist and anti-semitic book, The Culture of Critique, is a “Highly controversial historical survey of the roots of anti-semitism”.

Say what you will about the classic Western canon of literature — it is full of Old Dead White Men — but I don’t think that a compilation of recent racist propaganda and fleeting pop culture nonsense is an improvement, especially when it’s driven by a blatant far-right conservative agenda, and written by a pair of not-very-bright boobs.