Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of all charges in the murder of George Floyd. Members of the jury were indisputably subject to immense pressure. US Representative Maxine Waters urged protesters to stay on the street and “get more confrontational” if the jury did not find Chauvin guilty.
Naturally, no juror would want to see the mayhem of riots again. We are not in jurors’ heads to know their inner motivations. We can only hope that they rationally considered the weight of the evidence, and did not reach a decision on the basis of fear and intimidation.
Be that as it may, this verdict refutes the woke speculation that Chauvin would walk free because Floyd was black.
In fact, it is the opposite: were Floyd white, Chauvin would not have even gone to trial. How do we know this? Because not long ago— July 2019— there was an almost identical case of a police officer putting the knee on a man’s body, and consequently, this man died. His name was Tony Timpa. As opposed to Floyd, Timpa did not resist arrest. But, very much as Floyd, as the officer’s knee was pressed on his body, he desperately told the cops he was dying, all the while the officers were joking and laughing. Tony Timpa was white.
It should not be hard to see why the officers involved never went to trial. This particular event did not fit the media’s narrative of police brutality targeted against blacks in the United States.
Admittedly, police brutality in the US is not a myth. But it is a myth that it has a racial component. Harvard’s Roland Fryer concluded in a relevant extensive study that police officers do not disproportionately kill African-Americans in the US. Nevertheless, the media is not interested in empirical data. It prefers to portray a world of racial oppression, so that the pundits and activists can gain centre stage with social justice rhetoric.
George Floyd and Tony Timpa represent a microcosmos of a disturbing trend of identity politics in the US. They were both on the receiving end of injustice. It would be sensible enough to argue that we should be equally concerned for all victims of police brutality. But, if you even dare say, “All lives matter”, you will be called a racist, and from then on, your life will be miserable.
Contrary to the claims of conservative propaganda, the US can be an oppressive place. But contrary to the claims of liberal propaganda, victims and oppressors come in all colours. Yet, by seeing everything through the prism of race, woke activists refuse to acknowledge that Tony Timpa’s case was as tragic as George Floyd’s or that many marginalized white folks can go through the same troubles as their black counterparts.
As per woke guru Robin DiAngelo’s dictums, the mere fact of having pale skin already makes you an oppressor. How, then, can one explain the considerable number of white people living in poverty? DiAngelo does not explicitly answer, but researchers have found that liberals have a vicious prejudice against poor whites— to the point that they believe that if a white person ends up living in a trailer, then that person deserves it. They live in poverty —so the argument goes— because they are so depraved, that they have wasted their own white privilege.
One begins to see the double standards at play here. Poor whites are routinely blamed for their own failures, but in the woke playbook, African-Americans’ poverty is solely due to racism. Books such as Hillbilly Elegy point out many of the cultural pathologies of poor white communities, and the media highlights such views. But if you dare to say that absent fatherhood is a major problem in African-American communities, you will be labelled a racist. You can say that you can never trust a man with a mullet-hairstyle (as the main character of the much-lauded 2021 film Palmer did); but if you say that someone with an Afro hairstyle looks dangerous, you will be in deep trouble.
Extremists on the so-called Alt Right constantly speak of a coming white genocide in the US. This is ridiculous. Wall Street brokers and CEOs across the US continue to be overwhelmingly white, and sure enough, they have plenty of mostly undeserved privileges. But it is nevertheless true that a growing number of whites are being disenfranchised in America’s class system. And, unlike ethnic minorities, they have nobody to look after them. They have no NAACP, no La Raza, no Anti-Defamation League. When someone as Tony Timpa—a poor man struggling with mental health— is killed by cops, do not expect anyone to organize a protest.
And herein lies the problem.
There is no coming white genocide. But when these disenfranchised folks are called a “basket of deplorables” and are accused of being oppressors —despite living in poverty— solely on the basis of their skin colour, they will inevitably run into the arms of demagogues. When they are portrayed as sub-human inbreds in films such as Deliverance, they embrace the Confederate flag with gusto. When they are called “crackers”, “hillbillies” and “rednecks” —and everyone laughs— they begin to wonder, why can’t they call African-Americans the N-word?
When the officers who killed Tony Timpa do not go to trial, they begin to think that Derek Chauvin did nothing wrong.
A 19th century philosopher famously said, “Workers of the world, unite!” Under this slogan, tens of millions of people were killed by Communist regimes in the 20th century. But in the face of the destructiveness and the threat of ethnic confrontation posed by identity politics, the US needs a sanitized version of this slogan. “All lives matter” is a good start.
And just as Karl Marx urged all workers to unite —regardless of race—, American activists ought to voice their concerns for people undergoing difficult situations— no matter what their colour is. For that reason, on occasion of Derek Chauvin’s conviction, let us remember Tony Timpa, in the hope that police brutality and other forms of oppression are properly addressed, without the poison of identity politics.