Let’s Not Miss The Point…

I’m listening to Morning Joe and the pundits are talking about the trial of Derek Chauvin for allegedly killing George Floyd. Even as I write the word “allegedly”, I want to throw up. There is no way around the fact that one man kneeling on another man’s neck was at least (partially?) responsible for that man’s death. This is gravity and the laws of physics, which over-rides human laws and police policy. Given that, Mr. Chauvin’s knee on the neck of Mr. Floyd caused the death of George Floyd. Anyone with even a remote bit of knowledge knows that.

Apparently, the defense will argue that Floyd had a heart attack, secondary to his use of the drugs that were in his system, and that Chauvin felt frightened of this “drug-crazed” man who passed a fake $20.00 bill minutes before. Even if Floyd did have a heart attack (others have testified he died of lack of oxygen), and even if he had drugs in his system. It’s a long way from passing a $20 bill to “he’s violent and needs to be restrained”. It’s a longer way still from “he needs to be restrained” to “he needs to be restrained until —and after— he stops breathing”.

One has to ask if the officer hadn’t been involved whether Mr. Floyd would still be alive and we wouldn’t know how or care about who George Floyd of Minneapolis, Minnesota even was. Without the type of police involvement here, George Floyd would still be alive. With it, George Floyd is dead.

None of that is the point, really. The granular argument looks at the individual tree but avoids the forest altogether.

The point is that one man wanted to kill another man for no apparent reason other than he could. Did he want to because he was White and the man was Black? That’s certainly a good possibility. Did he want to because he was police and Mr. Floyd was a civilian? This is also a distinct possibility. So far, we don’t know what was going on the mind of Chauvin and even if we do hear it, we won’t know if it’s the truth., as he’s already tried to hide the truth of what happened.

The law usually talks about “if a reasonable person saw X, what would they think?” So ask anyone who has had dealings with the police, have they ever seen police use too much force for a given situation ? Yes, they probably have. Ask any Black person in America whether they believe a White man can, or will, try to kill them simply because they are Black and the answer is probably yes, as well.

That’s the point. It’s a scary truth that police and White people —White policemen in particular — have killed enough people that a reasonable Black person could assume they might try to kill them. When it’s reasonable to assume that a person might do an unreasonable thing, that’s a problem.

The fact that pretty much every Black person I know saw George Floyd die and they think of their own brothers, fathers, friends, and selves in the situation and can picture it gives us some idea of the scope of the the problem.

This brings us to the second thing that the pundits talked about: Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta after Georgia lawmakers passed a series of restrictive laws that will make it harder to vote. The argument made is that it will actually hurt the community of Atlanta due to the change in laws and make matters worse. People are mad at the commissioners of MLB for the decision, but it seems he didn’t really make the decision as much as the players did.

So we’re back to the “reasonable person” test for players. Would a reasonable person who plays baseball think that Georgia might have made changes in the law for racial or political reasons? No one truly believes that the laws were changed for any other reason than racial and/or political reasons. As the former candidate in a Florida race once said, “even the racists think it’s racist”. The idea that Georgia lawmakers have a lengthy history of making racist laws, that Georgia might be a historically racist state and these legal changes do nothing to assuage that guilt is all the explanation needed for reasonable people, including baseball players, to assume bad intent and a bad experience there. That’s the problem and that’s the point of the action,

Is it the right/proper/correct decision? Is it the right tactic? Stacey Abrams, John Ossoff, and Raphael Warnock — Democratic leaders in the state disagree with the action, but every one of them knew that it was a possible, if misguided, reaction. Why? Because reasonable people can easily believe that the White men in power in Georgia are racist and do things for racist reasons.

To straighten out this mess, one doesn’t have to fix the politics of baseball players, one has to fix the politics of Georgia’s current Republicans in power. That may take a long time to do or it may take as few as two years.

If Georgia’s Republicans want to not be punished politically for being racist, the answer is not to act in racist ways. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, If policemen like Derek Chauvin want to not be thought of as not being racist or murderers, they need to stop doing things that a reasonable person could see as racist … or murder.

Yes, it’s that bad, but George Floyd didn’t make it this way, and voters in Georgia didn’t make it this way. Those who made things this bad must take responsibility for doing so must fix the problem.

Resisting with Peace,

John

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