ALL LIVES MATTER MEANS THE SAME THING AS BLACK LIVES MATTER

all lives matter

^ the two principles are the same, not opposed

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We’re on the road, my wife and I.

Says she, “I see Black lives matter signs. Where are the all lives matter signs ? Doesn’t everybody matter, Mike ? Every life matters.,”

Why add anything further ? To me, as to her, the question is a simple one. Yet the circumstances afoot in our nation require me to expound upon the obvious.

All lives matter means exactly the same thing as Black lives matter. Black lives might not matter if all lives did not matter, and if Black lives did not matter, there could not be all lives mattering. Thus the limited principle is subsumed in the general.

Yet here we have the sentence “Black lives matter” presented as if separate from its wider principle.

From day one,  the cry “black lives matter” demands separation — even elevation : that Black lives are somehow special, problems of which are to be attended to more than the difficulties in other lives — whence has flowed all manner of trouble.

America’s equality principle, sanctioned in several Constitutional Amendments and in almost all of our Laws, recognizes no degrees of mattering: everyone is equally crucial to the working of our republic. We detour from this equality at our peril.

There do exist, as we all painfully know, several paths on which citizens with darker skin are denied the equality our laws mete to all of us. True, sadly, even after the winning of a horrible Civil war and the passage of the 14th Amendment, above all, and of several strong Civil Rights Acts, in 1867-75 and 1964-65.

I have written about them — the various interlockings of prejudice in housing, social interaction, incomes, wealth accumulation, and justice. You may read what I have written in my “Systemic Racism : Does It Exist” piece,  here : https://hereandsphere.com/2020/06/08/systemic-racism-does-it-exist-and-if-so-what-is-it/

I am not going to restate any of that in this column. I am going rather to focus on the all lives matter principle in two settings : the Constitution and the street.

The Constitutional principle, I have already discussed. Whatever purpose “Black lives matter” may serve as a political campaign, its parent principle, “all lives matter,” cannot be hurt.

Now to the street.

Every pavement action done pursuant to  “Black lives matter” derives from the separation inherent in the phrase. There is no escape from the consequences of that separation, and in fact most “Black lives matter’ activists have pursued separation as an end in itself. Those who do not fall into line are “canceled,” or branded an enemy, or assaulted; and why not ? If “Black lives matter” is special, then those who reject separation are as abased as the special-ists are rasied up..

The police are an easy target. Much of the unfairness, as we see it, is done by police forces — witness the murder of George Floyd, of Philando Castile, of Tamir Rice, of Walter Scott and more. To protest which, the “black lives matter” flag assaults police, harasses them, calls to defund them, and worse. That police forces defend communities, protect lives and property, and are trusted by more people than almost any other institution, is irrelevant here. Because “black lives matter’ is special, if police stand in the way of special, then go get ’em. Police lives ? Evidently they don’t matter, or as much, in a dynamic in which “all lives matter” is the adversary.

Eventually, as we see, all white people become the enemy, particularly to white people doing “Black lives matter.”

The video clips tell a disgusting story — yelling, lecturing, condescending, and worse, much of it by white people in the faces of black police and elders — of what befalls when separation drives the action. Nor need I more than merely note that much of this street anarchy is done by kids radicalized at college, or on the internet, many of them, veterans of two Bernie Sanders campaigns, or even of antifa (and in some cases, provocateurs of the fringe right), pursuing an explicitly socialist, anti-democratic, Maoist motor.

This is all so needless, because the vast majority of indignities (and worse) sustained by Black Americans are not police shootings but economic denials, social exclusions, housing segregation, avoidance. Thus the phrase “Black lives matter”: might better be worded “Black people matter.”

Is there anyone who disagrees ?

That is the problem. The protesters do not march for an ideal that no one disagrees with, they do so for matters that involve controversy.

This is why the “Black lives matter’ argument, when separated from all lives matter, is inconsistent with itself. Do the lives of Black police matter ? Black business owners ? I wonder if they do. As the vast majority of the street vandals are white, I have my doubts that they care about ANY Black lives rather than their own intoxication with violence and abuse, each of which can become very, very ecstatic as if an ayml nitrate high. High on controversy.

The man protesting in the above photo seeks to unite us, not divide us. What good is it to divide us ? What is achieved by it ?

Will the actual inequalities and distortions in the social fabric that absolutely impact many Black people (as I discuss in my “Systemic Racism” piece) be ameliorated in this phase ? I doubt it . Untangling the distortions will be the work of decades if not longer, and defacing monuments does nothing except give overtime pay to clean-up crews.  We live in a universal suffrage system. Every person has a vote. If you cannot persuade a working majority to vote for this reform or that one, well, you either accept the result or become a revolutionary and lose everything.

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What of the organization named Black Lives Matter ? Apart from  the phrase, about which no one disagrees ? It has many objectives which have nothing to do with the ideal. You may like socialism; I don’t. You may dislike Israel; I like Israel. What these issues have to do with equality and justice for Black people, I do not know. They’re distractions at best, although they appear to have marshaled much of the Bernie Sanders following — the Democratic Socialists and Justice Democrats — as we can tell, because the Black Lives Matter riots and “peaceful” protests do not look ad hoc, they appear the co-ordinated result of years of planning, campaigning, and communication. Nor do the mattering of black lives appear to be the actual goal of these well-regulated militias. The actual goal appears to be the end of capitalism, police forces, the First Amendment, equality itself, not to mention struggle sessions, re-education camps, and apology tours — very explicitly Maoist — in which they, the militias, dominate and intimidate everyone in the usual totalitarian manner.

No thank you.

THIS is why the movement hates “all lives matter” above all, no matter that their ostensible agenda requires it.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

THE BOSTON POLICE BUDGET IS NOT THE RIGHT ACCOUNT TO REALLOCATE

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You’ve surely heard the noise coming from some mouths lately, that Boston should cut its Police Department budget in order to fund increased social services.  In response, Mayor Walsh has presented a $ 12,000,000 slash in the City’s Police overtime account in order to fund these:

  • $3 million for the BPHC to begin implementing the eight strategies that Walsh outlined in his declaration
  • $1 million to support trauma teams and counseling services at the BPHC
  • $2 million in new funding for community-based programs, such as violence intervention grants, youth programming, language and food access, Immigrant Advancement, the Age Strong Commission and the Human Rights Commission
  • $2 million for additional public mental health services through a partnership between the Boston Police Department and Boston Medical Center Emergency Services Program or BEST
  • $2 million to support economic development initiatives to support minority and women owned businesses
  • $2 million to provide additional housing supports and youth homelessness programs

We have no objection to these initiatives. A City ought, from time to time, to fund new initiatives, or increase current ones, as needs arise, as in dynamic cities they usually do. We don’t even mind a proposal made by (according to boston.com) “Activists (who) are pushing for a 10% cut to the police budget to be put toward housing, food access, COVID-19 relief and other programs to aid communities of color…Several advocates at Monday’s hearing also called for councilors to pass the current budget to secure funding for immigration, housing, food and park programs.”


The COVID-19 crisis has seriously impacted the City’s more vulnerable residents, disproportionately people of color as well as nearly everyone who earns low income.  City government would be derelict not to address these emergency conditions that have occurred through nobody’s fault.

Where we object is that the Boston Police Budget is not the correct account to cut. Walsh has recommended adoption of a Boston Public Schools budget of $1.26 billion, representing an $80 million or 7% increase over last year’s budget, marking the largest proposed BPS budget in the city’s history.

I’ve written about the City’s vastly bloated schools account many times. It represents FORTY PERCENT of the entire City Budget, and its sub-accounts are stuffed with unnecessary appropriations — starting with the $ 106,000,000 to be spent busing kids all over the City obedient to a Federal Court order now 46 years old and which bears zero relevance to the City as it is today. Imagine how many social services Boston could pay for if that $ 106 million were not wasted on an  historical re-enactment.

Add to this another $ 16,000,000 or so of maintenance costs to keep the City’s aged, environmentally archaeological school buildings, which should have been upgraded 25 years ago; or the several million the Schools Department had to pay to the IRS in fines for mishandling its tax reports (to say nothing of misappropriations); or the money wasted by former Superintendent Tommy Chang on an internal reforms study, by consultants, that never went anywhere.

Boston’s Schools Department continues to maintain 92,000 seats even though only about 55,000 students attend. The utilities costs resulting from such unused capacity contribute another $ 5,000,000 or so in funds that could be used to fund The Council’s social services desires.

To recap : Public education spending remains over 40% of the City budget. Education spending is up over $440 million on an annual basis since FY14 and per-pupil spending at BPS will approach $22,000, more than a 30% increase over the past six years.

Is it not time to rein in BPS’s financial gluttony rather than cut Police funding simply because the cry of the moment on cable news, and among activists with an agenda you wouldn’t like if you knew what it actually is, is that the Police are all potential Derek Chauvins ?

Give me a break.

Boston’s Police are, if anything, under-funded, the Department understaffed. We need at least an additional; 500 line officers. The Department’s inadequacy was made painfully clear by its being outmanned (and outgunned) during the night of looting we endured two weeks ago. But this is an issue for another, saner, more realistic day. Right now, we would do well to boost the presence of social services on the streets of Boston. just don’t do it by cutting the wrong City account.,

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

ON SOME THEMES OF NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE

hawthorne 2

 

Growing up in Salem, Massachusetts, as I did, long ago, and being of a literary cast of mind from an early age, my interest turned inevitably to Hawthorne, my fellow Salemite, author of The Scarlet Letter and several short stories not to be passed over. Today, surrounded as I am by mobs full of passionate intensity, I am drawn back to the author whose message influenced my ethics as profoundly as any I have ever encountered. If you have read “Endicott and the Red Cross,” or “Young Goodman Brown,” and of course The Scarlet Letter, you can well discern what that message is that has so taken hold of my conscience. Let me set the question aside for a bit and move to another time and place, to the mind of yet another thinker who has affected my ethics beyond measure…

…on many an evening during the late 1570s, and into the 1580s, a vintner of Portuguese ancestry sat in the library of his Perigord estate, in the South of France, and, with his vast library (over 1100 books) at hand, wrote what he called “essays” (“attempt” in French) in which he attempted to understand all about himself. He was particularly drawn to matters of judgment : of passing verdict upon the acts and thoughts of his fellows, and of himself. Michel de Montaigne — that was his name — came to believe that all human judgments were vain, that truth is the possession of no one, that that which is on top today will be on bottom tomorrow, that the only difference between a truth and an irrelevance is the support, or lack of, given by people. In “Of Coaches,” “On Some Verses of Virgil,” “Of Vanity” and “Of the Resemblance of Sons to Their Fathers” Montaigne concluded that the wars of religion going on all around him — the Huguenots versus the League of Guise, with the King shrinking off to one side, trying not to get plowed — could only be ended by an individual act of personal conscience, to opt out, to create in his own home a place of peace, of non-judgment, of no weapons and no death, no persecutions, no armies of truth.

Such was his success that even today we read Montaigne’s essays, and often we find them a guide for our own ethical deciding. And make no mistake : no society can be roiled by armies of truth without having to come to terms with what is the good, what is the righteous, for one’s own piece of this life. It is a shame, perhaps, that our lives must be barred, like a highway being worked, by armies of absolute truth, but shame or not, when those armies block one’s path, one has to take their measure. There are no detours. When one is assaulted, sworn at, plundered and disturbed, one might want to ask, why is this happening here and now ? That, my readers, is a complex question with some not very edifying answers. I have no intention in this brief column of analyzing the causes — although vast deconstructions in the world of education play an outsized role — but the results, we know, just as Michel de Montaigne saw, heard, and felt the guns and battle cries of armies campaigning practically outside his castle doors. And as I have pointed out, his greatest “essays” sought answers to that same question that we face today : what moves the minds of men to battle and kill one another over doctrines unprovable and in any case un-useful ? Where the presumption ? To what end the certainty ?

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great works ask the same question : where does any man get the right to judge other people ? To brand them ? To rip their flags ? Are we not all equally to be judged by God — if a god exists — the only authority so granted ? Hawthorne hated intolerance with a personal animus. His own ancestor, John Hathorne, had sat as a Judged in the Witchcraft trials of 1692 that ever since — and certainly still in Hawthorne’s day — have tainted the consciences of Salemites and others with a shame appropriate to the sin of truth assumption. Thus Hester Prynne goes forth with Pastor Dimmesdale and their child, to a new life and righteous. Thus Endicott, after defacing the Red Cross flag of Salem, despite the calm advice of Roger Williams, shocks the attending populace against his cause. And thus Young Goodman Brown, called to the forest on a moonless night, sees all of his neighbors, so morally superior and tsk-tsk-ing by day in all their depravity under shroud of dark.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

BOSTON’s EMANCIPATION SCULPTURE, FREDERICK DOUGLASS, AND LINCOLN

Emancipation_Memorial

^ Lincoln, on April 1, 1865, to the freed slaves of Richmond, Virginia, who knelt to praise him : “do not kneel to me. Kneel only to God.”

 

A post on facebook says that 7,000 people have signed a petition to remove the sculpture by which Boston has, since 1876, memorialized the visit by President Lincoln to the city of Richmond, Virginia, after its capture in the Civil War, and specifically the moment when he was greeted by the City’s freed slaves, who, so the telling has it, knelt at his feet to praise him. He turned to them and said, “do not kneel to me. Kneel only to God.”

Ten days after that visit, Lincoln was assassinated by a Confederate sympathizer.

It is sad that, at this time when black lives matter supporters are asking that the Civil Rights successes of my generation be supplemented by full social respect and dignity for Black Americans, that 7,000 people can be found to wish the Richmond visit of Lincoln, and his message of uplift, be removed. Against this expression of reluctance to pursue full respect and equality, and against President Lincoln’s great labors” (as the plaque on the sculpture puts it), I would now quote from the speech that Frederick Douglass himself gave at the sculpture’s first unveiling, in Washington DC, before its move to Boston, where Abolition bore its first fruits :

“…The sentiment that brings us here to-day (spoke Douglass) is one of the noblest that can stir and thrill the human heart. It has crowned and made glorious the high places of all civilized nations with the grandest and most enduring works of art, designed to illustrate the characters and perpetuate the memories of great public men. It is the sentiment which from year to year adorns with fragrant and beautiful flowers the graves of our loyal, brave, and patriotic soldiers who fell in defence of the Union and liberty. It is the sentiment of gratitude and appreciation, which often, in presence of many who hear me, has filled yonder heights of Arlington with the eloquence of eulogy and the sublime enthusiasm of poetry and song; a sentiment which can never die while the Republic lives.

“For the first time in the history of our people, and in the history of the whole American people, we join in this high worship, and march conspicuously in the line of this time-honored custom. First things are always interesting, and this is one of our first things. It is the first time that, in this form and manner, we have sought to do honor to an American great man, however deserving and illustrious. I commend the fact to notice; let it be told in every part of the Republic; let men of all parties and opinions hear it;

“let those who despise us, not less than those who respect us, know that now and here, in the spirit of liberty, loyalty, and gratitude, let it be known everywhere, and by everybody who takes an interest in human progress and in the amelioration of the condition of mankind, that, in the presence and with the approval of the members of the American House of Representatives, reflecting the general sentiment of the country; that in the presence of that august body, the American Senate, representing the highest intelligence and the calmest judgment of the country; in presence of the Supreme Court and Chief-Justice of the United States, to whose decisions we all patriotically bow;

“in the presence and under the steady eye of the honored and trusted President of the United States, with the members of his wise and patriotic Cabinet, we, the colored people, newly emancipated and rejoicing in our blood-bought freedom, near the close of the first century in the life of this Republic, have now and here unveiled, set apart, and dedicated a monument of enduring granite and bronze, in every line, feature, and figure of which the men of this generation may read, and those of after-coming generations may read, something of the exalted character and great works of Abraham Lincoln, the first martyr President of the United States…”

When Douglass spoke these words and many more — orations were often long, long, long in those days — the Civil War was barely eleven years gone; and the assassination of Lincoln was still fresh in everybody’s minds. In some respect the War itself was not yet over : for Federal troops still occupied South Carolina and Louisiana (and would not be removed until the end of the following year). Thus the Emancipation sculpture was not erected and dedicated as a memorial of bygones ; it was an act of protest (“agitation,” Douglass called it) against the continuation of secession hostility and was also — maybe even more importantly — a gauntlet thrown down to those who might oppose the great Civil Rights Acts of 1867 and 1875, the print still not dry upon the latter.

I would appeal now to the hearts of those who oppose this sculpture and all of its spirit of freedom and dignity for black Americans, to loosen their consciences and see that there is no longer any case for setting aside, or delaying, the deepest aspirations of Black Americans for full respect socially and as neighbors, friends, family and citizens.

A friend has suggested that we might erect a plaque on the sculpture’s base, explaining its significance — which was clear to the men of 1876 but maybe not clear 144 years later — and maybe quoting from Douglass’s speech. I second my friend’s suggestion. Let us march forward together in  the spirit of ultimate emancipation, so that President Lincoln can truly, finally, rest from his labors and so that the confidence expressed by Frederick Douglass on the original unveiling day be our guide.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

 

 

 


	

POLICE REFORM : OUR POSITION

Gross

UPDATE 06/14/20 : we have added two sections, on police issues that we neglected to discuss in our original post.

Here and Sphere’s opinion about police reform has been  asked by many of you. Clearly there has been much conversation of this subject. It is timely, therefore, that we offer our stance on what to do or what not to do. As follows :

( 1 ) “defund the police” has been much talked of. By “defund” is usually meant reallocating portions of police budgets to hiring and training social workers who would be called upon, rather than actual police, to handle low-priority criminal situations. We are opposed. If social workers are to be hired, let them be hired within police departments and operated under police direction. We cannot have two agencies, police and social workers, rivaling each other when dealing with a criminal matter., Such competition would quickly lead to jurisdictional disputes and second-guessing on actions taken. Better to have one agency, the police department, oversee all degrees of response. Thus we support increasing police department budgets , if feasible within taxpayers’ approval. to provide the hiring of social workers.

( 2 ) methods of enforcement have been criticized as excessive force. Reformers make a strong case here. Just as we regulate the rules of engagement of soldiers in combat — Geneva Convention and prohibitions of torture — I think we have full authority to regulate patrol police conduct. Choke-holds, knees to the neck, carotid artery constriction — all are solid examples of patrol conduct that should be banned in the ordinary course. In the case of resisting arrest, more flexibility may be permitted, but regulations should err on the side of restraint.

As for shooting, Boston’s police have a rule : “just because you CAN shoot doesn’t mean that you SHOULD.” De-escalation of situations is the Boston police view. We endorse that view.

( 3 ) administrative review of alleged police misconduct : We do not favor civilian review boards and such like. Police are employees of an employing organization. in every employed organization, there is an employees’ handbook, and where discipline is called for, it is reviewed and decided by that organization’s supervisors. Employees must be able to trust the discipline process. How can police employees trust a review board made up of people answerable to persons calling for extreme measures and unwilling to hear exculpatory evidence that might undercut the “get him !” narrative ? Police employees have just as much right to not be tried by the media or by politicians as any other organization’s employees. Of course I speak of the ordinary course. Where review of a misconduct matter shows an actually criminal event, it becomes a District Attorney matter out of the hands of the Department.

( 4 ) body cameras and duty to intervene : some reformers are asking that where a police patrol is of two or more patrolers, each has a duty to intervene if he or she sees a patrol; ember violate the rules of engagement or enforcement. Given the fast-moving pace of most police patrol encounters, it is unrealistic to require any such action. We would, however, favor a police rule recommending — but not requiring — such intervention where feasible. As for body cameras, it is wholly understandable why police might object. The very notion is a statement that “we don’t trust you.” No employee of any organization should ever be signaled that his or her supervisors — much less the public — don’t trust them. If we don’t trust a police person, he or she should not be hired in the first place. We therefore do not like the idea of body cameras and would support them only if the police force itself votes to have them.

( 5 ) standards for police certification : Governor Baker is said to be submitting legislation that would require state certification of persons applying to be police. We like this proposal. If you seek to be a Doctor or a Lawyer, you have to pass a difficult exam and be found of good moral character. I see no good argument why applicants for police employment should not also be examined for character. The public must feel that it can trust the wisdom and training of police persons, who have authority to interrupt our lives and even arrest and charge us.

( 6 ) “diversity” : we do not agree that a police force should “look like the community.”  Policing is not a matter of how one looks but of how one ACTS. That said, police departments should make every effort to hire from every neighborhood in the jurisdiction, and elected officials should require it : because every neighborhood is to be policed, and neighbors must feel that those who are policing them respect the neighborhood and all who reside in it.

( 7 ) police as union members : some reformers want police unions tossed out of unionist organizations. Others also want police unions de-certified or removed from disciplinary procedure. We strongly oppose these proposals. Why should police employees not have as much right to unionize as any other employees ? You’re either a unionist, or you aren’t. In many discipline situations — such as are now being bayed for all over the nation — the only defenders that accused police have is their union leadership. That is exactly what union leadership is there for : to bargain on behalf of members and to defend them when accused of an infraction. This is how due process works; fairness. We support police unions.

( 8 ) police details and flag duty : reformers have for decades been calling for an end to police detailing at road work sites . We support this reform. Many states do without road work police details. The police argument is that their presence is a safety measure; yet flagmen seem to do a pretty good job of keeping road work crews safe.

( 9 ) equipment and armaments : some reformers have called for police forces to not have military-grade arsenals. We feel that that decision should be up to the individual police department. Our principle here is that police should have all the tools that they feel they need, that they should always be able to out-gun criminals, if needed, and that potential criminals should know that they are out-gunned.

Given the level of rioting that we have seen, if police don’t have sufficient tools, cities will have no choice but to call the National guard and even the US military. No one wants that.

( 10 ) qualified immunity : first of all, what is it ? Cornell Law School says “a type of legal immunity. …(which) protects a government official from lawsuits alleging that the official violated a plaintiff’s rights, only allowing suits where officials violated a “clearly established” statutory or constitutional right.”

Police officers know, having this immunity, that they will not be answerable personally for violations of frights, only for violations of specifically established legal or Constitutional acts done in their official capacity and answerable under Title 38 of the Federal code (violation of civil rights laws). Our view is that, one, most of the cases that might require a qualified immunity defense can be avoided by proper training of police applicants and of those already on force and ( 2 ) no police person should feel him or herself restrained, by lack of legal support, from taking such actions she or she deems necessary on the spot to protect him or herself or the public. Anyone who has watched as many riot videos as I have must marvel at the restraint shown by police in terrifying situations, under attack by mobs. It’s a wonder they don’t fight back more forcefully than they do.

Where police respond excessively, as appears to have happened to Martin Gugino in Buffalo, department discipline is available and should be carried out. There can never be any excuse for a police department to smother an investigation of excess.

Granted that people do make bad decisions. Police can make bad decisions. These are not, however, justification for stripping patrol police naked in the face, potentially, of great danger.

Thus we oppose ending the doctrine of qualified immunity.

— — —

Police on patrol risk their lives at every encounter; as they will tell you, police have been shot and killed even at routine traffic stops. Those who undertake to be police persons should — must — know that until the day they retire they will be placed under pressure, maybe into combat, and always second guessed and needing to embrace relationships of friend with the entire community. To that end, we fully endorse police-community organizations, ombudsmen, and police attendance at neighborhood meetings. We are glad to see police departments as well led and represented a Boston’s by Commissioner William G. Gross ( and by Bill Evans before him). This is a difficult moment for police, on account of a shocking event that displays the worst of un-self-disciplined action by a poorly certified policeman (and his crew). Our response to that act, however, must never be to bloody the reputations and courage of all wearers of the blue. Just the opposite. Let this be a moment for spotlighting the dutiful work performed every day by police persons throughout the nation.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

ON PUBLIC SHAMING

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^^ the public shaming of Minneapolis Mayor Frey : a sad moment in our nation’s political history

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Of all the moves made by moralists throughout human history, I can’t think of one more destructive, more lethal even, than the public shaming of one person by another or others.

Did not Jesus of Nazareth say, in a book we almost all read, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone. judge not lest ye be judged” ?

How do we get from Jesus’s teaching to the scene in Minneapolis recently where that City’s Mayor was made to walk, with his head down, through a crowd berating him ? One commentator on twitter called it “Frey’s struggle session,” referring to the sort of public shaming – apology ritual that Maoist China went through during the 1960s “cultural revolution.”

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the past week’s “peaceful protests” (if crowds hurling obscenities, chanting slogans one is not allowed to dispute, and throwing spit, water, bottles and bricks at police can be termed “peaceful”) has been the moral bullying. Who appointed them judges of people ? Did you appoint them ? Did you ? Or you ? Certainly I didn’t.

Soviet Russia under Josef Stalin made public shaming its go-to method of opinion control. During the “:Purges,” 1934-39, thousands were hounded from their jobs and homes, arrested, forced to confess to being what they were not, were shamed, tried, and exiled, sent to labor camps, or killed. People hurried to accuse one another of all manner of “anti-Soviet activity, ‘ whatever that was. There was a frenzy of it. Granted that Stalin’s purges were an extreme example, but it’s by the extremes that we diagnose the disease : people whop know they are morally better than other people and arrogate a right to impose their better upon the less good. For make no mistake : what happened in Stalin’s purges was not politics, it was morals, morality weaponized for political purposes.

It could not have happened in a nation of skeptics.

America’s blessing is that its political system is grounded in skepticism. We are suspicious of panaceas and of demagogues who tout them., Our Constitution erects all manner of shields to impose our skepticism upon the true believer.

Equally, universal adult suffrage is an enormous safeguard : for the morally bullied has just as much a vote as his bullyer. One vote each.

If you publicly shame someone who has any sort of self-esteem, you create an enemy for life. And he will vote. He will crawl over glass to vote against you. Is that what you want ?

In America, reform is built upon consensus. You will impose your will upon those who disagree, by force or by sham,in g or whatever device works, but as the saying goes, “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” And in our universal suffrage democracy, he will vote — will crawl over glass to vote, and, through any representatives he can elect, work to undo the imposed reform. We see it often in our nation’;s history.

Consensus reform, however, works because everyone buys into it. There is no anti constituency left by the wayside to renew a fight.

It amazes me that moralist politicals do not see this point.

—-Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

SYSTEMIC RACISM : DOES IT EXIST ? AND IF SO, WHAT IS IT ?

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^ justice for Black Americans remains to be fully assured. But how to assure it ?

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We’ve heard the phrase “:systemic racism” a lot in the past eight days. Sometimes it comes in the form of a Philippic, such as this one sent to me by a friend :

“Systematic racism is the deep rooted intersectionality of a system of laws, culture, institutions and ways of thinking that have created a degraded, otherness for Black people in the USA. The country was built on the blood of indigenous people, Black slaves, and free women’s labor. It is a system of privilege, maintained by violence, hate and fear. It is about extracting labor, maintaining power, and using capital to divide and conquer, while keeping a knee on the back of Black people. It has created a wealth divide and resulted in numerous systematic disparities. “

My friend certainly expresses the condemnation we all feel about seeing fellow Americans being downgraded for a vicarious reason. Yet I think analysis works better here than Philippic. In the phrase “systemic racism” are two words : “racism’ and “systemic.” Since most of us prefer system, to anarchy, the critique must focus upon the other word : racism. What is it ?

I would define racism as the notion that the skin color of a person is a measure of his character, his rights, his place in the society. Yet the definition fall short of the word’s custom. In America, racism is a judgment that is made of African-Americans specifically. People of Nigerian origin are also dark-skinned, darker than African-Americans. same is true of Caribbean-origin people, Indians and Pakistanis, etc. Yet in my experience, the minute that people hear the accents of such persons speaking, the reaction is different than what racism might suggest. These dark-skinned people are often reacted to as immigrants — foreigners — and so a thing different from African-Americans.  Of course I have generalized, many accent-English people with dark skin have experienced racism, and still do; but hear me out; we are far from finished with highlighting the peculiarities of racism in practice.

Why has the custom of degrading African-Americans by skin color persisted, 150 years after our nation granted them full citizenship as enshrined in our Constitution, and after 500,000 of us died to secure those rights to all African-Americans ? Why has social custom, and until 1964-65 legal authority, not been changed by the Constitution we all swear oaths to ? The answer to this question brings us to the systemic part of that phrase, systemic racism.

System was needed by those who would not accept the settlements of 1865-75, and in a democracy with universal suffrage, being defeated, even crushed, by war is no bar to the continuation of opinion; indeed, defeat may aggravate the opinions of the defeated, who, like all human beings, dislike being forced at gunpoint to change their ways; and, in elections pursuant to the great Constitutional settlements, those whose minds were of the same opinion still were able to vote, and thus able to vote against those settlements. It is very hard, I think, to accept seeing most of one’s neighbors elevated to equality with you only at gunpoint or by dint of Federal Courts’ enforceable orders. One wants to accept one’s neighbors, by one’s own, unforced act of the heart, not have them shoved down the throat. So much for the fate of civil rights in the post-Civil War South. I will return to the South later.

What of the North ? Why did racism custom persist in the States whose sons died in large numbers to secure full civil rights to Black Americans ? I think we have to accept that, despite the mythology, the vast majority of Northerners fought to defend the Union against rebellion, not to enfranchise Blacks. And Northerners who did fight to end slavery did so because they viewed slavery as a human wrong, which it is, and not therefore to enact Negro Equality. None of the great 1865-75 Constitutional enactments changed much in the North. They were primarily punishment for the South. In the North, it is true that the Amendments enfranchised Blacks legally. Black men could now vote, sit on juries, run for public office, and the like : yet in many Northern States they could do that already, before the War and without it. Thus the sting factor in the great enactments scarcely pinged any Northern community. The social disqualifications, prevalent almost everywhere, thus continued, there being no pressure at all to abate them. Just the opposite : when, in the decades from 1880 through 1920 a flood of European immigrants came to the North, they were met almost universally with disqualifications similar to, or even harsher than, those imposed on Blacks living in this region. Again, we see here the application of “system.”

In much of the North, the degradations put upon newly enfranchised Blacks might have faded away with time, there being so few Blacks resident in the region. (We see this today in Maine and Vermont, where Blacks amount to less than two percent of the population and social degradation is almost non existent.) Starting in the 1900s, however, the Great Migration brought millions of Southern blacks into the North; these brought with them social and linguistic customs jarringly different from those prevalent in Northern cities, and they aalso found themselves sort of lumped in with the immigrants from southern  and eastern Europe, at a time of maximum dislike thereof, and so degraded by native Northerners even as immigrants, too, feared the Black newcomers as job competitors. that cleavage has persisted even to today.

The above paragraph describes the reactions of millions of individual people. In a democracy, with universal suffrage, the customs of millions of individual people become system.

We are now ready to discuss the term “systemic racism” without accusation, pearl clutching, and the like.

Given the views of many, there has been, these past 100 years or so, continuous under investment in schools serving Black-majority neighborhoods; equally large under investment in health care for persons living in such neighborhoods; much relegation of Black persons to low-paying jobs, which has kept many living in under-served and under-valued neighborhoods. There has also been a perception that Blacks are to be feared, a perception not unlikely given the conditions — well publicized by the news at its most sensationalistic — in which so many Black Americans live. All of these conditions reinforce one another, a kind of vicious circle of exclusion and deprivation of public expenditure. This is the system part of “systemic racism.”

Into this already complex social map comes the housing question. Where people choose to live — assuming they have a choice — is a very individual decision. It is not made collectively. In this, everyone’s residence is twin to universal suffrage. Unfortunately, Americans in most places have chosen to live racially apart from each other. as I see it, this separation is almost entirely perceptual, at least outside the South. If all you know about people racially different from you is what you see in a sensational television newscast — because a crime incident sticks in the mind far more readily than good news, and far too often the news about Black people is of a crime event — then it’s just common sense to live away. Is there any doubt that this junction of perception and publicity underlies our nation’s segregated housing patterns ? What other reasons could there be for it, I have no idea.

Residential segregation leads to social segregation, and social segregation reinforces residential apartness. If people of different races, or skin colors, do not get to know one another, in large numbers, how is this apartness ever to change ? I am at a loss….

What, then, of the South ? There, Black people and white people have lived close, with lives inextricably intertwined, since slavery days. Southerners know each other. I might even say that Southerners of both races interact on all levels, these days, more intimately and constantly than anywhere in the North that I know of. I have seen it in action. Yet the distrust between them runs very very deep. Everywhere in America, Blacks vote differently from white voters, but in the South, the two races vote almost entirely in opposition to each other. (This may be changing. More white Southerners are voting Democratic now than at any time since the Civil Rights Acts were enforced. Look at recent statewide votes in Alabama and Georgia.) Even so, every Southern legislature contains a higher percentage of Black members than any legislature in the North.

I do not live in the South. I am in no position to offer solutions to the racial inequalities that prevail in Southern states. My impression,. in any case, is that such injustices are far worse in today’s North than in the South, at least in part because we of the North refuse to admit them, much less try to alleviate them. Take the housing situation again : right now, and since 2018, Governor baker has laid a zoning reform bill upon the legislative table. It is a very small tweak, that would allow zoning boards to modify zoning restrictions by a majority vote rather than a two-thirds vote. The purpose of his bill is to allow the construction of transit-oriented and workforce housing in communities around Boston and thereby loosen the tight housing market here that has seen prices double and triple in the past decade. His bill has gone nowhere. Why ? Almost every affected town or city has objected, passionately. It is hard not to ascribe this intense objection to race fears.

I do not know how this zoning freeze can be unfrozen. If a reader of this article has a workable suggestion, in would love to hear it.

To sum up :

If we are ever to alleviate the system part of our nation’s racism, we must find ways to relieve the individual opinion part. In a democracy, with universal suffrage, everyone’s individual opinion equals everyone’s individual vote. Our Constitution also protects rights of the minority — it isn’t majoritarian  rule. The reason why we do this is crucial : it is because we believe that no policy is completely correct, no opinion always right; we know only too well from history that the minority view is sometimes the correct one, and by our settlements we ensure that it will always have power to affect. Our polity arises from skepticism as much as from idealism, and wisely so.

Thus the focus is on the individual, as it must be. “Changing society, one mind at a time’ isn’t merely a slogan; it is the ONLY way that worthwhile change can be made permanent, beyond the upheavals arising from minds not persuaded. There is no system, in our democracy, without individuals amassed to make it. “Systemic racism” is the wrong way to phrase what we see as an obstacle. Better to call it “policy by minds not persuaded.”

We can, of course, enact some reforms thanks to the resolve and idealism of so many (and I am on board as well), and we probably will enact such reforms. But they won’t stick unless the majority deciders they are wise, and they won’t change minds unless minds observe the reforms working well to everyone’s benefit. We shall see.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

 

 

A PLAN : COMPENSATING BLACK AMERICANS FOR 150 YEARS OF WRONGS

TULSA

^ Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood burns to the ground, destroying an entire community of Black Americans. 1921 and still an open wound

—- —- —-

What follows is the most feasible plan that I can devise given the limitations of time and sources. That said, I have thought about the matter of compensation for many months, ever since I read about the Lynching Museum established in Alabama by my fellow Princetonian, Byron Stevenson (Class of ’85). Because I have been mulling over,. for months, the details of such a plan, it should be evident  — and I insist upon it — in no way arise from the chaos of the last week. Indeed, said chaos has actually delayed the writing hereof. I am profoundly skeptical of the entire “Black Lives Matter” movement, a thing that appears to me both political and hypocritical. From what I have seen, Black police lives do not “matter,” nor the lives or property  of Black shopkeepers, many of whom have been targeted by rioters parasiting Black Lives Matter protests. Black police have, in fact, been cursed, spat upon, beaten up, and even killed by participants in some protests. As a result, I write this article in spite of, not because of, the trageies that I have seen or read about.

That said, let us proceed to the plan itself.

The case —>> after the enactment of Amendments 13, 14 and 15 to the Constitution, and also the Civil Rights Acts of 1867 to 1875, the nation made clear its resolve that Black Americans were fully citizens of the nation AND of the State of their residence. These Amendments and laws annulled the Dred Scott decision (7 to 2) in which citizenship was found to be legally impossible, under the Constitution, for Americans of African descent to acquire. As full citizens, Blacks were thus fully empowered to sue at law for wrongs committed against them and to receive money damages if successful.

From  1875 to 1965, and in some cases after 1965 as well, Black American citizens were denied their rights to live in pace, even to live at all, and to amass wealth and acquire property. Some 4,000 Black citizens were lynch-murdered; many others suffered property damage and/or were subject to inferior schools, inferior health services (or not at all); and all who thus suffered were set back in their rightful quest for wealth even as their white citizen neighbors faced no such impediments or wrongs. Besides actual lynchings, there were several outright race riots, in 1919 to 1921 especially, in which entire Black communities ere wiped out, including business and homes, not to mention the thousands killed or injured.

Every such incident documented gives rise to a prima facie case in tort, by which, via the common law established in every State, an aggrieved may be awarded both actual damages and punitive damages. That these wrongs mostly occurred long ago is no bar to recovery, for it is an established principle that the time for bringing a suit in tort is tolled by any number of factors, one of which is impossibility. For the better part of these past 140-150 years, Black citizens have been unable to present a case and win a fair hearing on these charges, either by intimidation, lack of resources to pay for lawyers, and the press of trying simply to stay alive disadvantaged by the consequences of these sweeping, community-wide wrongs.

So much for the statute of limitations and standing to sue arguments.

The judgment —->> I do not propose an actual class action lawsuit. That might be done, but for the purposes of this article I propose Congressional legislation. There are no readily identifiable individual defendants who might b sued, and even if so, few would posses the means to pay the level of money damages I think are rightly due.

In the legislation I propose are the following provisions :

( 1 ) all Americans descended from those granted citizenship by the acts of 1865 to 1875 are empowered to bring claims under the act. (The class of such claimants might well include people who live as white, because inter-marriage (and extra-marital relations) since 1865-1875 has occurred, and such wrongs as have impacted any citizen intermarried to a person wronged has had his or her opportunities diminished.)

( 2 ) Claimants will have to establish, by a preponderance of evidence, the extent of damage their ancestors (and they) have suffered by way of the wrongs enumerated in the legislation. Thus each claimant will, if successful, be compensated in an amount directly related to his or her individual circumstances. There will be no collective compensation.

( 3 ) Claimants will have fifteen years (15) in which to bring a claim.

( 4 ) where feasible, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees shall research the histories documenting lynchings, riots, denials of adequate schooling or health services and the like. The committees shall issue their reports n later than five ( 5 ) years after enactment of the legislation. There shall; be public hearings from time to time in which persons with pertinent information shall testify on the various issues presented herein.

The award —->> there are, potentially, maybe 35 million claimants. Over a century and a half, four million enfranchised Black persons have  begotten an enormous number of descendants ! How much should each successful claimant — maybe 10,000,000 people — be entitled to ? A LOT of compensation. A reasonable standard would be : the difference in family net worth of a claimant and that of the average white citizen. If the figures I’ve read are correct, that is a sizeable award : as much as $ 175,000 per claimant.

Multiply $ 175,000 by 10,000,000 and you arrive at a potential compensation pool of One Trillion, 750 billion dollars. The payout would be made within two years of enactment, half of the sum in year one and half in year one, and half in year two.

It sounds like a whole lot, and it is. It’s a huge transfer of wealth from the nation as a whole to one segment of its citizens. But is it any less than the measure of wrongs flung upon Black Americans these past 140-150 years ? I think not. I think the figure is actually quite reasonable.

It will not be easy to win public support for this initiative, much less for a national payout of $ 1,750,000,000, all of it taxpayer money. Yet in my opinion, it is both fair and smart. The more wealth that 10,00,000 Black Americans have, the more they can spend into the discretionary economy. Think of this legislation as another economic stimulus plan — that is also an act of justice accordant with our nation’s ideals for which enormous numbers of us have given their lives.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

ON THE WISDOM OF SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS

 

Portrait of the family of Septimius Severus

^ Septimius Severus with his wife Julia Domna and his son Caracalla

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Septimius Severus, the Roman Empire’s only Africa-born Emperor, lay on his death bed in York, England. The year was AD 211. His son Caracalla was at his side, about to succeed to the Imperial purple. To Caracalla, Severus said these words : “reward the soldiers, despise all others.”

Severus had practiced that principle. He had ruled the empire since April of AD 193 — 18 years, a long stretch for emperors then. He was now 67 years old, a long life for hat time in which plague regularly visited the citizenry. He had risen through the ranks of the formidable Roman army, and after the chaos of the year 192, following the assassination of Commodus, Severus, by then commander of the 14th Legion (XIV Gemina), defeated all rivals to claim the throne. He acquired it by harsh rule and kept it severely — an adjective we derive from his own nickname. How did he keep it, when so many cosplay emperors found themselves dumped by the City’s Praetorian Guard ?

He kept it by rewarding the soldiers, despising all others.

By “despising” he did not mean hating. He meant not worrying about what “the others” could do to his rule as long as he had the army’s unquestioning loyalty.

Now we come to Donald J. Trump, whose presidency, such as it is, has moved into the AD 192 phase. I say 192 because I think Mr. Trump’s corrupt, mercurial incompetence more resembles the bluffers who Severus displaced — Pertinax, Didius Julianus —  than he does Severus. Nonetheless, Mr. Trump now has the army at his command, if he can keep it. So far, that’s a given. General Milley and rest of the US military like the current mob rule awash in many cities no better than Trump does.

We shall see.

Mr. Trump has an opportunity now to attempt what Severus managed : impose military dictatorship AND allow mob rule. Severus didn’t care what the city mob (from the term “mobile vulgus” in Latin, the turbulent rabble) of Rome did day to day and night to night so long a it did not challenge the military. As long as the grain shipments from Egypt weren’t interfered with, or the movement of legions long the autobahns of the empire, as long as the Temples and government buildings of Rome weren’t put to the torch or sacked,. all was OK.

It was a libertarian rule, even a libertine one. The City mob was fed and provided with brutal arena games; the Senatorial order was allowed to pretend it still had power, which it was glad to pretend, since it held uncontested ownership of farms and production, much of it operated by slaves kidnapped from the empire’s enemies after battle. (There really wasn’t much of that by 192-211, which would rock the empire’s ruling consensus in the next century.) Commerce was scarcely regulated — but highly taxed, often by surprise. The City’s officials held uncontested authority over established avenues of information by controlling those appointed to the office of “auspex” (whence we get our adjective “auspiciuous”)

It was, for a time, a very successful system.

Today, in America, there are three constituencies with power :

( 1 ) the mob and the Black Lives Matter protesters, whose remarkable operations the mob exploits with impunity, so far

( 2 ) the established forces of order : City police, State police, the National Guard, and the military. All are more or less military in application right now, and will become entirely so shortly

( 3 ) everybody else, powerless in the streets but possessing, through the right to vote, the power to elevate one or the other of the first two forces and reject the other.

So far, number ( 3 ) is led by Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for our equivalent of the Severan office. Biden is a decent guy, a nice, well-meaning guy who really, really wants everybody to be at peace and thinking uplifting thoughts. So did Pertinax, the aged Senator who in 192 was elected emperor by the Senate only to be bankrupted by the Praetorians and assassinated by them when he had no more bank to give. Joe Biden, if he wins our Severan office, is heading straight into the fate of Pertinax — not to be assassinated or bankrupted, but to be politically bankrupted and neutered by his own activists, who hold Praetorian power over him. The “Black Lives Matter ecstatics never wanted Joe in the first place, almost all of them supported Bernie Sanders, and they accept Joe today only on sufferance : that if Joe wins the election, they can force his hand, probably, if need be, by the same means they are now using to make him their policy captive.

Today’s situation is no country for nice guy old white men.

I really feel for Joe. I am supporting him, because he IS that nice, decent guy who believes in America’s Constitutional ideals, as do I, and who has lived them his whole life, and because I could not, would never, have anything to do with Mr., Sanders, whose would-have-been presidency we are now getting a taste of. I say i am supporting Joe, but I am very bearish on his being able,  if elected, to accomplish what he so badly wants to, because his victory in November will only increase, not diminish, the power of the street activists and the mob-rule parasites who feed off them.

Yet how can I support Mr. Trump — how can anybody ? — given his utter incompetence at anything, his bellowing, every day, that it is all about HIS power, HIS ego, HIS amour propre. In this, he is more like Commodus than like Severus : just a vain, spoiled son of an always absent, if brilliant, father, whose rule was about nothing and was ended by his own supporters. There isn’t anyone who thinks that Mr. Trump commands the military out of loyalty to some ideal or policy purpose. For him, at this time, it’s nothing but power for the sake of power, a kind of instrumental fetish. I can’t imagine that at some time, probably sooner rather than later, the military will start transferring its confidence to Mr. Biden, who at least does speak for the ordinary voter and lacks only power at street level.

Were this to happen, Mr. Biden might become more than a new Pertinax. He might have actual power to command and thus to change the political equation. Thereby giving new meaning to “reward the soldiers, despise all others.”

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT LAST NIGHT IN BOSTON

 

Boston

^ Just a nice little shopping trip for looters, courtesy of “apology City” (i.e., Boston)

—- —- —-

What happened in Boston last night has angered me and very likely angered you as well. Thus I may well write stuff in this column that would not appear were I more at peace, and you may want to correct me, even call me out. Nonetheless, I write.

Thousands of us gathered yesterday to march in solidarity with a very basic American principle : that justice should protect every man, every woman, equally and faithfully, and that no one of us should ever be abused by those we entrust to protect us from harm. In Minneapolis, a young man named George Floyd was denied his rights to the benefits of this principle. This we all acknowledge and decry.

Unfortunately, some cities proved utterly unprepared for the horrors that befell them in the aftermath of very justified protests of the treatment of Mr. Floyd. It should by now be basic operating procedure, for any city, that when huge numbers of people are expected to gather, for any reason, that the City’s police forces are fully mobilized and at the ready, close by every part of the gathering route, supported by State police and, on standby, that State’s National Guard. None of this happened correctly in any City that I observed. Minneapolis was caught absolutely flat-footed, taking four days to assemble and deploy all the force at its command.

It sure did not happen in Boston either.

There are many reasons for this failure. High among them is the City’s unwillingness to give our police the men and equipment they need to face rioters in this time of riot. A lot of us have leveled oceans of blame — deservedly — at President Trump’s administration for its unreadiness for the COVID outbreak. How come these same blamers can’t blame cities for their equally limp-legged unreadiness for riot ? The first cities attacked by riot might merit some measure of excuse for being surprised (although I’m unwilling to let them off that hook. You HAVE to be ready for the unthinkable.) But Boston’s leaders had FIVE DAYS to prepare. We knew what was coming. Why were we not ready ?

Did we think that the good will — and evident naivete — of the protest organizers, most of them Democratic Socialists (check their twitter handles) for whom George Floyd’s death was a convenient pretext for intimidating electeds in anticipation of next year’s Mayoral contest, would carry the day ? The protest was set to begin at 6.30 pm. Dark would be arriving soon. After dark, the current protests have almost all turned to mob violence, as groups with agendas much more radical than that of the Democratic Socialists, unleash their kraken.

Yet the protest in Boston took place Downtown, in a very constricted geographical area, surrounded by water on three sides, that should have been duck soup to encircle with overwhelming force. The various areas of stores within that small zone are not many; they too could have been defended. They were not, because the City’s forces were far too few.

Later, when the City did finally have sufficient force,. it didn’t use them aggressively. Looters, once inside stores,.were easy to trap and surround and arrest; the tires of their getaway vehicles should have been shot out. None of this happened for three hours after the looting began. Granted that because the City hadn’t sufficient force to surround the looters, they broke out and looted in many locations. That is still no reason why the police, now aided by national guard, could not have deployed on the obvious shopping streets and blocked the rabble from getting onto them. Once the forces did, finally, start to wage these tactics, they found plenty of crimers to arrest– 55 in all, said Police Commissioner Bill Gross today.

It should have been a lot more.

I am also unable to grasp why Cities have not declared martial law, under which anyone found criming can be shot on sight. You cannot play games with rioters. Martial law was imposed on crimers in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina; why not for the Floyd rioters ?

It’s hard not to conclude that Cities have played nice guy with these rioters because everybody in power is in apology mode, self-blaming for “systemic racism,” that, I guess, they must be a part of, and therefore, maybe in their minds having their constituents’ property destroyed is their punishment for being “systemically racist.” If you feel that you are a racist and that you need to atone publicly for your failures,. you’re in no state of mind to wreak the havoc on those who can’t wait to take advantage of 500 elected suckers.

The mea culpa caper has been in charge in Boston. We see the result.

Look : the protests really aren’t about George Floyd. He is mainly a pretext for the protesters’ far more ambitious agenda of radical imposition. How come the huge protest only now ? Didn’t a hundred previous police overreaches, including killings, engender this level of outcry ? Why now ? Can it be because there’s an election coming, and the protesters hope to fill Congress with their sympaticos ?

I leave these questions up in the air on purpose. Do your own thinking on them. Yet wherever you come down on an answer, is there any doubt that George Floyd has absolutely nothing to do with the crimers ? They came to loot, to burn, to riot. No more no less. Theirs is a politics of anarchy, of utter nil. We appease them at our peril.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere