Why “theoretically”? This post was almost finished at about 6:15 pm yesterday. Then I heard a scream from my wife: Spuds, our delightful rescue dog of a month’s duration as a Marshall had somehow shed his lead and dashed off in the direction of the field behind the school near our house. I had to fumble for my shoes (I’m barefoot most of the day—keeps the gout away!) and a sweater, pause for a brief, clearly unfair “how could you let this happen?” exchange with Grace (that I paid for later,) and went running in the direction of my wife’s “He went thataway!” finger. The odds were high where Spuds would be. Of late he has frequently joined a small group of delightful dogs (there’s Snow, Star, Minnie, Hunter, and other occasional drop-ins) and their owners for a sundown romp. He was not scheduled for a playdate, but had decided, I assumed, to schedule one himself. Sure enough, there he was, wrestling with Snow the Samoyed. It only took me about twenty minutes to collar him: he knew he was in trouble.
After that adventure, I was beset by one vicissitude of life (my Dad’s phrase) after another, and never got back to the office….until now, at around 4:30 am Wednesday morning. Spuds woke me by rolling over onto my face, and I decided to finally get this post up.
1. Oh great: here comes another one. Wauwatosa, Wisconsin police reported that a 17-year-old fired a gun before he was fatally shot by a police officer in a Mall parking lot in February. There is no question that the shooting victim, Alvin Cole, had a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun and ammunition on his person when he was shot; they were recovered at the scene. The gun had been stolen. Police were summoned after a disturbance was reported inside the mall; Cole ran from police and according to the police report, fired first. Officer Joseph Mensah fired five shots at Cole, police said, killing him.
Tomorrow, that is, on the October seventh, the DA is supposed to hand down the decision of whether to indict Mensah. Fortunately, Mensah is black, so the racist cop trope is a bit harder to maintain that in other recent incidents. But now, thanks to so much of the culture swallowing whole the false litany of Black Lives Matter, the assumption is that any time a black man, and especially a teen, is shot in a confrontation with police, it’s an example police brutality. If Mensah was white, I assume the riots would have started already. The city is preemptively closing the schools and City Hall among other pre-riot measures. Once again, Facts Don’t Matter.
Why was a 17-year-old carrying a firearm into a mall? Never mind: Cole’s family says he didn’t shoot, because he was a good boy, after all. You know, like Mike Brown.
It was the third fatal shooting involving Officer Mensah in the last five years in Wauwatosa. The previous two fatal shootings of Antonio Gonzales and Jay Anderson Jr. were ruled justified, but Mensah’s career as a police officer is clearly over, and he’s probably not safe in Wauwatosa any more. In August, dozens of people gathered outside Mensah’s home, led by State Rep. David Bowen (Guess what party affiliation!). According to police, the protesters began vandalizing the house, and the armed, “mostly peaceful” protesters went up to the rear door and “a single shotgun round was discharged by a member of the group into Officer Mensah’s backdoor.”
By the time you read this, maybe the riots will have started already.
They won’t have to defund police, you know. Either the rule will be institutionalized that African Americans can engage in threatening, criminal and violent behavior and resist lawful authority without any fear of confrontations with police, or the only people who will accept jobs as officers will be lunatics with a death wish.
2. And while we’re on the topic of “systemic racism,” I found the story about Credit Suisse’s firing of Tidjane Thiam, the only black CEO of a major world bank, fascinating. He was fired after a bad scandal on his watch, in which an executive who was closely tied to him was deeply involved. The article begins with an ugly incident where group of employees mocked his race at a company function, and framed the story as that of a talented outsider who was never fully accepted as a rare black man in an overwhelmingly white corporate culture in an even more white company in Switzerland, and you can’t get much whiter than Switzerland.
The piece is more stuffed with dubious assumptions and manipulations to confirm a narrative than even the average Times piece: for example, it accusingly lists white banking CEO’s who survived major scandals, as if that proves that racism is what lost Thiam his job. No, it seems more reasonable to conclude that those CEOs should have lost their jobs too, and the famous old boy’s network probably saved them. It wasn’t that Thiam was treated unfairly; it’s that insiders are more likely to get the benefit of the King’s Pass.
The main point the story raises for me is that outsiders always have trouble being fully accepted into any organization or culture. It’s always oppressive; it’s always hard. And outsiders always know, or should know, that they will get less lenient treatment, fewer chances, and little mercy if they fail or screw up. That’s not racism, at least not necessarily.
A minority in a majority culture will always face unfair treatment, a lack of acceptance, and inherent handicaps, and that is a feature of human relations that can only be addressed by better ethics, not signs, protests and accusations.
I have experienced being an outsider in a culture a few times, not because of my color or race, but it was still miserable. In each instance the situation lasted several months; in each case I weathered daily “micro-aggressions,” felt isolated, sabotaged, harshly judged and unfairly treated. Yes, I recognize that my “outsider” ordeals had clearly defined endpoints, and that living as a racial minority does not. However, I also recognized early on in each case that these were just circumstances that are unavoidable, however unfair and unpleasant, and that my task remained the same: get the job done.
And if I failed, whatever reasons it was that contributed to that failure, that failure was ultimately my responsibility.