Racists Are Emboldened

Imagine a sequence of events like this. I wrote this with the San Bernadino attack in mind:

 

People do attacks like San Bernadino.
People admit they were nervous about the attackers before, and think they could have prevented the attack if they’d reported.
People didn’t report out of fear of being branded racist.

~Fast forward a few years, Trump elected, alt-right is a thing, neonazis ranks swell (not that those things are all directly related, but there are connections that aren’t hard to notice)~

People call the cops or ICE (or threaten to do so) on people of color doing nothing wrong.
People do this at least in part b/c they remember the Monday morning quarterbacking of San Bernadino.
People remember those attacks and say, “not on my watch,” or some heroic phrase, and speak up, sensing their moment of greatness.
People correctly publicly shamed for being racist.

~future~

People stop reporting things out of fear of being the next viral racist sensation.
People do attacks like San Bernadino.
Repeat…

I don’t think the ending would be just like that, it’s all a bit too /r/im14andthisisdeep. But where do we go from here? I have to say, these viral vids of racist people are very entertaining, and they should carry a message of caution to people everywhere: you don’t get to call the cops on people just because you don’t like someone’s skin color. Hopefully the fools these people have made of themselves will be a deterrent to future would-be crusaders against people of color going about their business.

But we still need to talk about that other thing. The actual situation where people are actually planning to do a killing spree. As with everything, there is no simple solution. Setting the bar for what it should take to alert the authorities will reveal counterexamples that disprove it. For example, say you want the new rule to be, “people moving duffel bags that appear heavy” as a sufficiently suspicious activity. It might be that heavy duffel bags contain an arsenal of guns or incendiary devices, but let’s look at it. Heavy is relative. Duffel bags could contain lots of things. On the other hand, clever attackers would find ways to evade this rule. There’s a point where anything short of seeing people with guns in their hands would be considered rude or racist.

The real answer is that there is no. Bad people are going to do bad things. I don’t want to make this about gun laws, but, let’s be honest, there are gun laws that could definitely make it harder for bad people to get so many guns. Aside from that, there’s not much to say except some mealy mouthed shit like, “know your neighbors” or, “talk to your children.” Which is not to say that those things aren’t good, but they’re not public policy.

It should be noted that, while San Bernadino is the attack I referenced at the top and I claim that it’s at least part of the reasoning of the current crop of racist cop-callers, it’s rather unique in that the attackers were not white. Most of the other mass shooters have been white males. The only other notable exceptions are Omar Mateen and the Virginia Tech shooter.

Why is this significant? Why you pointing out race, man, isn’t that racist?!

It’s significant precisely because it gives the lie to this idea that these people calling police really think they’re stopping a major tragedy.

I’m probably wrong about this connection. The people calling the cops on brown people not doing anything wrong are probably just shithead racists who have been emboldened by the alt right and Trump. And there’s no question that right wing media has helped.

Image result for not racist but number one with racists

 

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We Might Be in Trouble

So there I was, reading about the horrors faced by real people in Aleppo, and the life or death consequences being dealt by decisionmakers from various nations, when in the lower right corner of the screen, a headline about the Jags being called for a rare penalty tried to wrest my attention away. For a moment, it worked. I moused over to see what the rest of the headline said at least. A penalty that hadn’t been called in 18 years! Doesn’t that sound interesting?

Reading the Aleppo article, important as it is, took some willpower. When I finally really got some momentum going, it was quite interesting. I was nearing the end of the admittedly short article when the Jags clickbait link intervened. I am not a Jags fan, in fact I hardly care about the NFL at all. So why does that story draw my attention, threatening to tear me away from what I know is a much more important story?

I like to think of myself as bookish. Maybe I’m less of a deep reader than I think I am. Even so, I fancy myself above average for my age group when it comes to reading for, how shall I say, not exactly pleasure. Eat your vegetables type reading. Like a news story about Aleppo rather than an Onion News in Brief or a YouTube comments section.

So if I’m above average, even slightly above average for my demo, what does that say about all the other people out there who don’t even start reading the Aleppo story, who log on and go straight to /r/dankmemes? People my age vote. People at my age occupy offices at various levels of government, and make decisions that can affect people in big ways.