Let’s start with the fact that, contrary to your suggestion, I’m not conservative. I’m completely independent and have a mix of political positions spanning the entire political spectrum. I believe George W. Bush was the worst president in my lifetime, and I liked Obama a whole lot more (though I think he also had many flaws). I actually supported Bernie Sanders in this last election. My view of Trump is mixed, but that’s an issue that goes beyond the scope of this response. My point is only that you shouldn’t assume I’m some sort of dug-in conservative. I do, however, care a lot about civility in public life, and that — rather than race — is what my article that you responded to was about.
Second, regarding your point about dog-whistles, this is one of those typical underhanded regressive-left-style moves to brand your opponent in an intellectual discussion a racist rather than engage their arguments. The way this move is usually made is through pure mischaracterization and projection, and that’s exactly what you did.
For instance, in no way did I say or suggest that only the black athletes involved in the protests are thugs or that the athletes who were protesting are thugs because they are black (and many of the protesting athletes, of course, weren’t even black). It was clear enough in what I wrote that the thuggishness I was speaking of is not due to anyone’s race, but rather, due to the poor etiquette involved in making a political statement by protesting the national anthem. Again, it’s this lack of etiquette, civility and respect that was the principal subject of my article, but in your urge to fall all over yourself to pursue the race angle, it seems like you missed it.
Similarly, in no way did I say or imply that only wealthy black athletes are out of touch or that wealthy athletes are out of touch because they’re black or that all athletes or wealthy athletes are even out of touch. This is what I actually wrote:
The real story here is how dumb, incoherent, boorish and utterly out of step with America so many in the left-leaning mainstream entertainment community (including Hollywood, media and now sports as well) have become. Ad hominem epithets, name-calling (racist!, fascist!, sexist!) and shouting down people with whom those on the left disagree have taken the place of engagement, debate and reasoned dialogue, and now these same jeering jerks are turning football stadiums into arenas for their jihads against civility.
What I wrote was, as you see, not even specific to athletes, much less black athletes. So I don’t know what you’re talking about here.
Nor did I in any way say or imply that only black athletes are too dumb to know why they are protesting or that any athletes are dumb because they’re black. What I said, consistent with what I have said in other posts of mine on this issue, is that we don’t have any reason to place any particular credence in a football player’s view of complex political issues. This has nothing to do with race. It has to do with the fact that they’re football players. If they were (largely white) golfers, I’d say the same thing. They’re people whose expertise is in a field that has nothing to do with politics and who, if they are pro athletes, spend almost all their time focusing on their chosen field of expertise which, again, is not politics.
So where did all the dog-whistling you refer to come from? It came from you. As I said, it was an exercise in pure projection on your part. If reading what I wrote, what spontaneously popped into your head is the notion that black athletes are dumb, out-of-touch thugs, that really says a lot more about your own psyche and the troubling direction in which your thoughts tend to flow than it says about what I believe or what I actually wrote. You may want to devote some searching thought to your own subconscious biases, but again, none of this has anything to do with me.
Now, I did say that many of the people protesting (regardless of what race they are) likely have no idea what exactly they want. I stand behind that. This doesn’t mean they’re dumb. It just means that many people jumped on a bandwagon. You point to Colin Kaepernick’s personal motivations, but I wasn’t saying anything about Colin Kaepernick. He himself may have known why he was protesting (though I do think, from everything I’ve heard from him, that he’s an uninformed idiot), but again, I wasn’t saying he didn’t know. I was saying that most of the people doing the protesting now, i.e., this past weekend, don’t know. I actually arrived at this insight from listening to a bunch of comments from athletes and coaches during press conferences after the fact, when they said many different things and spoke vaguely of racial injustice of one sort or another or just spoke about standing together in a show of unity or expressly spoke about how it’s still too early to tell what this is going to be about. So, yes, I’m convinced they don’t know specifically what they’re protesting or what they want. As I said, if you think they know, tell me exactly what their goal is and what change made by whom would result in the protests ending. Usually protesters have demands. What are theirs? They have none.
Finally, on the subject of police killings of black people, I’ve read that Vanity Fair article before. Most of it isn’t actually about police killings of blacks but about other forms of anti-black bias in law enforcement. As for the small section on police killings of blacks, I’ve actually read a lot about this issue, and this article is extremely biased in cherry-picking just three studies that are supportive of its general point and leaving out all the others that come to a different conclusion. You can see this to some extent even from noticing that they had put the respected Roland Fryer Jr. study, which would’ve been devastating to their conclusions (insofar as that study found a slight bias against whites in use of non-lethal force by cops), in a later section on non-lethal force (where he did find bias), but they down-played his conclusions of no bias in use of lethal force (which surprised him) by dismissing those results as “controversial.” If you want to learn more about this issue, I strongly suggest that you take a look at some of the many excellent posts of David Shuey on this, and particularly this one. He has done great work in pulling together tons of data. He himself is actually not a conservative but a just an honest liberal who follows the data where it leads rather than approaching it with a preconceived notion of what he wants it to show.
You also try to distract from the issue by telling me that I’ve acknowledged in my own article on the media’s manipulation of the data about police killings, that blacks tend to live in poorer communities, which are more heavily policed. Specifically, you wrote:
The funny thing that even in your linked article (which you wrote) you acknowledge that blacks are poorer and tend to live in poorer neighborhoods (which are over-policed) but never stop to ask why that is (history, residential segregation, racialized war on drugs etc).
The reasons blacks often live in poorer communities are complicated, but yes, they certainly do include some of the reasons you mentioned. I’ve never denied that. And I’ve written in many posts on Medium and elsewhere that if we want to combat racism and discrimination, what we need to do is stop focusing so much on race and start focusing a lot more on integration, so that we don’t have these underfunded, impoverished almost entirely black ghettos creating a destructive, dysfunctional subculture that fuels further cycles of inequality and racism. (I can say more about this, but it’s a bigger issue.) However, as far as the narrow question of police killings, all I’m really saying is that cops are going where the crime is, which tends to be poorer neighborhoods (of course those neighborhoods are more heavily policed, because, again, that’s where most of the crime is), so that this, coupled with the higher black crime rate, especially for violent crimes, results in blacks predictably being victims of police shootings at a higher rate than others. To fix this, we need to fight for economic equality and integration, as I said. Dumb protests that stir up anger on all sides and alienate potential white allies aren’t going to do it, my friend.