I have no idea what it would like to be black. I accept the truth of Clarence Darrow’s empathetic words in his defense of Ossian Sweet: I assume being black must be overwhelming at times, all consuming, distorting how everything is seen and experienced. Nevertheless, it does not justify everything, It does not excuse anything. There are some reactions to the black experience that can be fairly labelled destructive, or foolish, or paranoid, or racist. Or ludicrous. When we see these reactions, we ought not to indulge them, nor hesitate for a second to call them exactly what they are. The fact that black Americans are reacting to being black does not mean that the reaction is always worthy of respect, and if there is a mass delusion born of emotion or demagoguery or fanaticism or despair, the best response may well be a bucket of cold water, or to point and laugh. Hard.
AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and it’s prequel “Fear the Walking Dead” are among the most diverse TV shows on network or cable, filled with villains, victims, heroes and martyrs of all races and combination of races, most of whom are doomed. Yet these shows have become yet another target of the Black Lives Matter movement, an even wackier one than Bernie Sanders. Apparently the shows discriminate against black characters. Well, it does if you are so besotted with racial grievances and suspicion of American culture that you can’t think straight. Just as the group sees hands upraised when there were none, it sees, along with lunatic race-baiter/author Tananarive Due, racial bias against black men in two shows that are thoroughly post-racial—you know, when the dead are eating the living, color really, really doesn’t matter. Black men was an essential qualification of this latest grievance, because arguably the most admirable and interesting character oin either show so far is a black woman, Michonne, played by Danai Gurira. Never mind, it’s black men that the show, like America, hates.
I know these shows rather well, in part because they contain great ethics hypothetical. I’ve been trying to think of any white character that these race obsessed guilt-mongers wouldn’t find offensively-treated if they were black. The putative star of “The Walking Dead,” Rick, is a weak leader, not too bright, and unstable. Make him black, and he’s an insult to black men; right now, he’s just an insult to police, Southerners, fathers, leaders, and American characters played by British actors. If Due and the rest can be insulted by the fates of the wide variety of black characters that have appeared on both shows so far, they can find a way to be insulted by any characters, plot developments, costuming make-up, or manner of death.
That, of course, is the point. That’s the trick, the “gotcha.” The idea is to make pop culture, government, the news media, everyone, jump through hoops, grovel and accept that black Americans are universally devalued and abused, no matter what the facts are. Everything is always racist. Thus we get over-heated nonsense like this:
“We–people of color, and black people in particular–are this country’s zombies. We are the horrifying shadow suburbia is afraid will slip through the window at night. We are the reason for the U.S. history of stockpiling guns, dating back to fears of slave rebellions. Terror over the nation’s “browning” make us the shambling masses who drive people to lock their doors and fantasize about barricades and sudden flight. It’s not true for all of us who love zombies, obviously, and it’s usually not conscious–but it’s the simmering social subtext.”
The proper response to this—the ethical response, the only response—is, “Oh shut up, you’re embarrassing yourselves.” If black activists can’t articulate genuine problems and potential solutions without spewing risible hyperbole that is useful only to seed irrational black hate, anti-white racism and dangerous black paranoia, then they simply will not make progress, unless they want to do it through violence. They lose their natural and rational allies, who are people like me. I can’t feel what it is like to be black, but I know silly when I see it, and I can discern crackpot arguments that trivialize serious problems. Applying racial quotas to zombie shows is silly, and should not be given three seconds’ thought or a sliver of respect.Giggles, however, are good.
When you feel you have to dig this seep for racial offense, gang, you raise legitimate suspicions that you are just making stuff up as you go along. This undermines your serious, important messages, if you really have them. The kindest, most effective, most helpful reaction we can offer is to just laugh in your face when you make arguments like that, in the hopes that the mockery gets you back on track. Black Lives Matter is at heart an unethical movement, but many of its complaints have weight, and deserve a hearing. Black Zombies Matter, in contrast, is demented, and while “deserves a jeering” would have been a neat way to complete this sentence, it wouldn’t be quite right. Dragging TV zombies into the discussion is irresponsible, and deserves hearty laughter, because it is so utterly stupid, and laughter is the best way to give this movement a chance to stop demeaning itself so it can do some good….if it can.