You think I’m kidding, don’t you? Sadly, I’m not.
Here’s a silver lining: thanks to the parade of bizarre and illogical demands and assertions during the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck and the concomitant “Great Stupid,” my head appears to be immune from explosions. (Is head immunity anything like herd immunity? A topic for another time…)
It is amazing—I would have once said head exploding—that anyone would attempt to sanctify a long-time criminal and blight on his community like George Floyd, much less get away with it. Nonetheless, months after Floyd died after a cruel and incompetent (but not racist) police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck, the news media and Black Lives Matter flacks are successfully selling the tall tale that his life was a tragedy of unfulfilled potential because he had the misfortune to live in the United States of America.
[Quick review: Floyd moved to Minneapolis after being released from Texas prison for aggravated robbery. He went to jail 5 times and as a perusal of his record shows, he can be fairly described as a career criminal. Floyd was a habitual lawbreaker, involved in drug abuse, theft, criminal trespassing, and aggravated robbery, who once broke into a woman’s home and pointed a gun at her stomach while looking for drugs and money. He had probably taken an overdose of fentanyl and methamphetamine at the time of arrest, and it is quite likely that this, and not Derek Chauvin’s knee, is what killed him.]
I’m old enough, more’s the pity, to remember the Sixties fad of arguing that all criminals were victims of their upbringing and a Hobbesian society for those who were not white and rich, and that it was heartless to punish those who were really society’s victims, not its predators. This was a very old progressive trope, notably championed by Clarence Darrow, who argued that there is no free will, and that criminals are doomed from birth, this making it an abuse of power for society to punish them. This logic was the epitome of bleeding heart liberalism, and helped make the word “liberal” a term of derision. I did not expect it to make a comeback.
Yes, I’m an idiot.
Now, however, in no less a legitimate forum than the Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa and Griff Witte make the argument that if the U.S wasn’t so racist, Floyd, despite all outward appearances, might have been a great American.
Read the thing, take a while to tape your skull back together, and then resume reading here. Watch out; this is the third paragraph, and it comes up quick:
“Early in life, he wanted to be a Supreme Court justice. Then, a pro athlete. At the end, he just longed for a little stability, training to be a commercial truck driver.“
If I recall, I wanted to be Superman early in life. Is that information really relevant to anything? I strongly suspect that if young George was really interested in a judicial career, he might have begun by learning some basics about the law, like, say “Don’t break it.” After Superman looked like a non-starter, I moved my ambition to the Presidency. By the fifth grade, I had read every book about Presidents I could find at the library. My parents started me off with a paperback that cost about three bucks. The Post article never explains how systemic racism prevents curiosity, initiative, and achievement.
[ Quick Review 2: George was one of five children born to parents who weren’t married, and followed the family tradition, also having five children with an undetermined number of women, setting those kids out on the same perilous life path he trod. Interestingly, I can find no example of a Supreme Court Justice who accumulated offspring out of wedlock.]
Some highlights on this long, meticulously researched ( “according to an extensive review of his life based on hundreds of documents and interviews with more than 150 people, including his siblings, extended family members, friends, colleagues, public officials and scholars”) rationalization for the failed life of George Floyd:
“Floyd was born in Fayetteville, N.C., in 1973, a time when Whites-only service at restaurants and segregated seating in movie theaters were fresh wounds.”
The Civil Rights Act had been passed a decade earlier. The Post’s argument seems to be that Floyd was handicapped for life by a system no longer in existence.
“When Floyd was two days old, Maynard Jackson was elected mayor of Atlanta. It was the first time a major Southern city would have a Black leader.“
Again, George Floyd was born into a U.S. where African Americans had legally ensured opportunities to succeed. He lacked the determination and character to take advantage of them
“Schools remained deeply unequal as Floyd moved through predominantly Black classrooms in the 1980s and early 1990s. At Yates, a former “colored” school named for a minister who was born enslaved, test scores were low and dropout rates high, with the 1989 valedictorian — who was seven months pregnant at the time — noting in her graduation speech that more than half of freshmen had failed to graduate.“
This paragraph is res ipsa loquitur. You have to make a special effort not to see the irony in it.
“By the time Floyd left high school in 1993, he wasn’t academically prepared to go to college. But his athletic skills earned him a place at a two-year program in South Florida before he transferred closer to home — to Texas A&M University-Kingsville, a small, mostly Latino school known as a pipeline to the NFL.“
A cynical critic of this section writes, with some justification, “It’s so racist that if you’re a non-Asian minority, you’re more likely to get into college than a white or Asian student with the same test scores.”
“Floyd, a tight end, went to practice every day, but he wasn’t making the grades or completing the credits that would have allowed him to get on the field.“
Floyd had an opportunity. He didn’t make the most of it. Blaming anyone but himself makes him a victim of a not systemic racism, but cultural maleducation.
“Floyd’s time in college ended with neither a degree nor a draft into professional sports. With his two planned routes out of Third Ward blocked, he moved back to Cuney Homes in 1997.“
Blocked? Blocked? Who blocked them? Floyd was in complete control of whether he would graduate, or excel in sports sufficiently to make it his career. He also was responsible fr failing to use college to develop skills that would help him gain employment should his sports aspirations not pan out.
“It didn’t take much time before he was in trouble with the law. Police — described by residents as an omnipresent force around Cuney Homes — arrested him in August 1997 for delivering less than a gram of cocaine.”
Ah, if only Floyd had read a bit about what becoming a Supreme Court Justice entailed! Meanwhile, the Post’s argument is that the presence of police caused Floyd’s criminal conduct. After all, if a crime is committed without being detected, was it really committed at all?
“The most serious charge that Floyd faced was in 2007, for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Prosecutors said the then-33-year-old and four others forced their way into a private home and that Floyd had held a woman at gunpoint while others ransacked the place, looking for drugs and money….After a plea deal, Floyd would spend four years at a privately run prison nearly three hours northwest of Houston.”
Mass incarceration! George Floyd received just four years in prison for armed robbery. The Post doesn’t mention it, but the victims were Hispanic, and the woman who had the gun pointed at her stomach was pregnant.
Anyone who finds the Post article to constitute a convincing argument that anyone but George Floyd—and the tragically self-destructive community that acculturated him— is responsible for his miserable, anti-social, drug- and crime-polluted life is not worth arguing with.
The scary question is: How many such people are there?