Two Saturday Substacks to read: McWhorter and Sullivan

April 17, 2021 • 1:30 pm

I’m not sure whether Sullivan’s content is free, but I subscribe, and I’m going to subscribe to John McWhorter’s site as well, which you can still sample for free. Here is your Saturday reading, with excerpts (click on screenshots):


His message is, as the subtitle notes, “the center continues to collapse”.

Jokers to the Right of me:

. . . . the sole focus of the GOP since last November has been voter fraud. State after state has been tightening restrictions to trim the electorate. Not all of this is malign — as you can see in the Georgia case, which is more complex and less outrageous than the MSM/Democrats want you to believe. But it would be terribly naive not to see this as a clear attempt to minimize the clout of minority voters, whom the GOP (despite the trend of 2020) assumes will always vote Democrat. Meanwhile, the cult of Trump remains — and no one rivals him.

Worse, there are plenty of signs that the GOP is also laying the foundations for a much more serious anti-democratic maneuver next time. Check out this typically sharp piece by Jonathan Last. What he shows is that the bulk of the post-election GOP autopsy has not been about policy changes to adapt to a changing electorate, or how to capitalize and enhance Trump’s gains among minority voters, or even how to strategize to maximize Republican advantage in the Electoral College. Part of the strategy has been about how to replicate Trump’s attempt to reverse the legitimate results of 2020 by transparently anti-democratic means.

Check out this HB 2720 bill in Arizona. Money quote: “The Legislature retains its legislative authority regarding the office of presidential elector and by majority vote at any time before the presidential inauguration may revoke the Secretary of State’s issuance or certification of a presidential elector’s certificate of election.” It’s a sign that GOP-controlled state legislatures have an option to invalidate election results in the future if a Democrat is elected president, likely prompting a constitutional crisis.

Clowns to my Left:

A similar procedural dynamic has taken hold among Democrats. Yesterday, some legislators unveiled their plan to add four seats to the court so they can immediately control it. It’s the most ambitious court-packing scheme since FDR, and comes at a time when the Dems also narrowly control both Houses of Congress and the presidency. It’s not Pelosi’s desire or interest at this point, but it shows where we’re headed. The Dems say, of course, that they’re just responding to McConnell’s breach of decorum and decency when he refused to allow a hearing for Obama’s last nominee, Merrick Garland, and for his rushing through the Kavanaugh and Coney-Barrett nominations. And yes, they are. And the Dems are right. But can’t we see how this escalating tit-for-tat can destroy liberal democratic norms and procedures by ratchet effect?

Many Dems also want to abolish the filibuster to push through big legislation quickly in the Senate, via Vice President Harris’s tie-breaking vote. They have decided not to try for any serious bipartisanship on the stimulus, and to pursue some big policy changes through reconciliation. Not just that, they also want to add states to the Union, thereby guaranteeing a durable Democratic majority in the Electoral College and Senate for the foreseeable future. I understand the frustration at how our system provides a structural advantage for low-density states — but I see that as a feature of American constitutional balance, rather than an anti-democratic bug. But put aside short-term justifications for any one of these measures, and take all these maneuvers together, and you can see how any temporarily losing ruling party in an eroding democracy tries to shift constitutional norms to entrench power as permanently as possible — and not simply by winning elections in the existing system.

And he concludes, as usual, that there’s not much hope for ameliorating tribalism.


And Dr. McWhorter, who says things only a black man could get away with. Here he draws a parallel between accepting Darwinism and accepting evidence that murders by cops aren’t racially biased, though he notes that cops are “nastier” to black people than to whites (evidence shows clearly that blacks get stopped by cops on a per capita basis more often than are whites, and are subject to nonlethal force more often than whites). But that apparently doesn’t go for lethal force. Read the following (it’s free and advertised on McWhorter’s Twitter feed. I’m not sure how apposite it is to compare acceptance of evolution with acceptance of data on cops’ use of lethal force, but McWhorter’s making the point that one can’t argue with facts:

An except, with a link to the data:

Whenever the national media reports on a black person killed by cops, we must ask ourselves “Would a white cop not have done that if the person were white?”

Because: we are taught that white (and even non-white) cops ice black people (usually men) out of racism. It’s possibly subconscious, but in the heat of the moment, they revert animalistically to their white supremacist assumption of black animality and pull that trigger.

This is why so many can only bristle at the idea that George Floyd did not die because he was black.

It’s why now, when the cop who killed Daunte Wright not only says she mistook her gun for a taser, and is even recorded as having done so, legions of people still insist on parsing it as evidence of “racism.” The idea is, I suppose, that she wouldn’t have made that mistake, would have been more prudent, if Daunte Wright was instead a white guy named Donald White.

. . . Here is why we need that mental exercise. Tony Timpa was quite white and was killed quite in the way that Floyd was, including it being recorded.

AND white people have been killed when cops mistook their guns for tasers. I wonder why no one ever heard about this one beyond one day in Philadelphia? (Wait – there will be objection that the shot didn’t actually kill this guy. But that’s random – it could have, easily.) There are many others — there has been media coverage this week of cases where cops made the mistake that Officer Potter did towards Daunte Wright (where the person shot died). You can be quite sure that if their authors had found that the mistake only happened when the victims were black, we’d know by now.

This is a dog that didn’t bark and for a reason – that this week’s headlines have not been about how cops only mistake their guns for tasers when they are dealing with a black man is because … wait for it … they don’t! I suggest you take a little time and do a quick search on the cases listed by media articles like this. When the victim is black, it’s noted – big surprise – and quite often, the victim simply is not. By that I mean that often the victim was white. The journalists seeking to show that cops only mistake guns for tasers when they are confronted with a black person couldn’t find it and thus just write that officers have sometimes been “confused” while studiously leaving race out of it. Their head editors have made sure they did.

And the punchline:

The problem is the sheer volume of the white cases. We just don’t hear about them. As I write, what about Hannah Williams? Or this hideous case? No, I’m not laboriously smoking these cases out when they are just weird exceptions to a general rule. They are the norm. It’s just that they don’t make national news. It really is that simple, and that sad, and that destructive to our national conversation about race.

Funny thing – nothing makes this clearer than the Washington Post database of cop murders. Just pour a cup of coffee and look at what it shows, month after month, year after year. As South Park’s Cartman would put it, “Just, like, just, just look at it. Just look at it.”

Yet, the enlightened take on the issue serenely sails along as if that database proves that cops ice black men regularly while white men only end up their line of fire now and then by accident. Wesley Lowery ended his iconic piece in the Washington Post on cops killing black men with going off to vomit after hearing of the latest example, as if the database showed mostly this, and it was roughly 1880 in Mississippi. But that, I hate to say, was fake. The data justify no such vomiting – at least if the vomiting is about racism. The database reveals a serious problem with cops and murder, period, quite race-neutrally.

McWhorter is right: this kind of jumping the gun (pardon the metaphor) is destructive to our national conversation about race and destructive of racial amity.  This week we saw a Chicago cop kill Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old carrying a gun (which Toledo had fired a few times just before) whom the cop chased down an alley. The shooting was very quick; the cop told the kid to drop his weapon and show his hands, and when the kid apparently threw the weapon behind a fence and then turned to face the cop with his hands up, the cop fired. The whole thing took less than a second, and it’s hard to put myself into the cop’s place. There will of course be an investigation.

But one thing it’s impossible to tell is the race of the Toledo, for it was dark and he was running away. While it’s hard to tell whether the police shooting was justified as it happened so fast, it’s impossible to credibly assert that Toledo, a Latino, was killed because of his race. Yet our own Provost issued this statement:

Today brought the public release of a video showing the tragic shooting death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo by a Chicago Police Department officer. This comes as our nation is confronting too many painful incidents of bias and violence. We share the distress of people in the University community and across our city and nation concerning these issues.

The University extends its support as our community faces the aftermath of this tragedy, as well as other national developments such as the recent killing of Daunte Wright of Minnesota and the upcoming verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd.

While the Provost didn’t outright say that Toledo’s death is the result of “bias,” she clearly lumps it with the accusations of other bias murders. But in none of these cases, especially Toledo’s, has there been a definitive determination that racial bias helped foment the killing—the exact topic of McWhorter’s piece.  All these statements do is throw oil on the fire, implying to our Hispanic students, faculty, and staff, that bias is behind all these murders. This is divisive, unwarranted, and unseemly, especially in a University devoted to the pursuit of truth.

73 thoughts on “Two Saturday Substacks to read: McWhorter and Sullivan

  1. I was unhappy to see Sullivan’s “both sides” argument. The Dems getting rid of the filibuster is no way as bad as the GOP’s state-by-state attempt to erode voting rights and prepare the ground for the next coup attempt. Packing the court is a bad idea but it is doubtful that’s going anywhere. Sullivan misses no opportunity to remind his readers that he’s really a conservative.

    We need more McWhorters or more people need to listen to him.

    1. I must agree with you here on the “both sides” business. The fact that Sullivan compares what the republicans are up to and what the democrats are doing is rubbish. The republicans are simply a destroyed party with no agenda other than climbing up Donald Trump’s rear end. They live in a fantasy world where the only duty in congress is to vote no. Unless you have a tax break specifically for the rich you just keep announcing the big lie and hope Trump will return to save you. If we can just stop enough people from voting we can win it all again. Sullivan has his head up and locked.

    2. “…erode voting rights and prepare the ground for the next coup attempt.” From the other side of the table, it looks like Democrats are trying to remove any safeguards against voter fraud, and swamp the country with illegal voters in the form of illegal immigrants. Certainly, there must be some common ground to assure people that the voting process is safe from interference.

      1. What voter fraud? Illegal immigrants aren’t coming to the US to vote. And what evidence is there for the GOP seeking common ground on anything, let alone voting. The ID laws don’t seem to be a good faith effort at all. Many in the GOP aren’t even pretending that they are. Many are saying the quiet part out loud by saying ID laws are needed to improve “voter quality”. Most troubling are those parts of their new laws that allow a GOP-controlled state legislature to take control of the voting process if they see fit to do so. This is a radical and unnecessary response to what was the best-run election in history.

        1. Seems that “[f]rom the other side of the table, it looks like” there are bogeymen under the bed. There is no evidence of significant voter fraud (and hardly any evidence of any voter fraud at all) and no evidence whatsoever that any Democratic party official has ever urged illegal immigrants to vote. Period.

          What we have right now is a nationwide effort by Republicans to disenfranchise legitimate, eligible voters because Republicans understand that those voters are likely to vote against them.

          1. Yes. Ironically, their premise may not even be true. Many GOP voters are older people whose vote may be suppressed. This is partly why the voter suppression parts of these new laws are less scary to me than their future-coup-enabling parts that enable their state legislatures to throw out votes they don’t like.

            1. I’ve thought there is the calculus that even though these measures will also disenfranchise certain Republican voters, they will still achieve the aim to favor Republican victories. If you make it a pain in the rear to vote, then the more infrequent voters will stay home. That does not impact the white voters as much as non-white voters.

              1. Possibly. For the near future (2022), the perception by Dem voters of voter suppression will drive them to the polls, supported by politicians like Stacey Abrams. That may fade, of course, but they also may rescind the worst of these laws. Last but not least, once Dem voters all have IDs, they will be less and less vulnerable to voter suppression efforts. It will be hard for the GOP to really maintain their tactics going forward.

    3. On the other hand, there’s no reason why DC shouldn’t be granted statehood and I think it is a Good Thing, whereas opposing it seems to me can only be because of partizan reasons viz, DC is strongly Democratic.

      This is another pointer to the fact that what the Republicans and what the Democrats are doing is not the same.

        1. Having an entire state encompassing a single city seems odd to me. I wonder if DC could be redefined to include only the White House, the Mall, and the Capitol, then add the city itself to either Maryland or Virginia.

          1. I don’t see a real problem with a single-city state. The world has several countries that consist of a single city. I’m sure Republicans would prefer your scheme though.

  2. I was talking to the kiddo (he’s twelve) about the recent shootings – NPR had been in on the car and he wanted to listen. He’s an avid gun-rights enthusiast, hunter & outdoorskid. His suggestion was that perhaps we ought to ‘de-gun’ the police. His thought was that if police had to do their jobs without a gun, but surrounded by citizens who can legally carry (and open carry) might change how they perceive their role. The Toledo shooting (where, from what I’ve read, his friend was the one with the gun and who fired the earlier shots, not Adam) is just unconscionable. His hands were up.

    1. It would not work. A huge part of the society is armed and there is a lot of police-less gun violence (much more than police gun violence.) The police being being the same is just a symptom. Disarming only the police would give a free pass for violent armed criminals, because the police would be unable to (and probably also afraid to) interfere with them. Unarmed police only works in countries where the population is unarmed too. These things are inseparable.

  3. I think McWhorter can continue to play the black / white thing and find statistics until the cows come home but most people simply are not going for it. They are convinced their kids are the ones unjustifiably being shot and killed and without accountability. Now I did not notice if McWhorter got into the accountability part for the police or not. I think it is pretty clear the police and their blue wall have gotten away with killing people for a long time. I would maintain that without the film, the 6 o’clock video we would simply be marching on. The trial in Minnesota is happening only because a girl got it all on firm. Otherwise we would be moving on to the next cop killing.

    At some point we do need to stop all the black/white arguments which solve nothing and start looking at what is wrong with our policing. The gun culture in this country has turned the cops into shoot now and save your ass at any cost. I am not sure we can change the cops and improve them unless we can do something about guns. So nothing will be done and we move on. We wrap the police up in bullet proof amour like a soldier in Iraq. And then say, go out there and serve the people. It is just a load of crap. I think we had about 11,000 killed with guns during a year period. The U.K had 22 killed in a decade. Please explain those stats.

    1. The US police are trigger-happy and jumpy because they are faced with population, every one of whom could well be carrying a gun. In the UK, the police can pretty well presume that no-one is carrying a gun.

      1. Indeed. Though the UK police can be just as jumpy and likely to fire first and ask questions later if they think a suspect is armed, as happened in the case of Harry Stanley. He made the mistake of stopping for a drink in a pub on the way home, where a member of the bar staff mistook his Scottish accent as an Irish one, thought the table leg he was carrying home in a plastic bin bag was a rifle, and called the police, with tragic results.

          1. It’s a famous case so one of the first that came to mind, and the family had to fight through the courts for years in a (failed) attempt to get justice. But yes, mercifully such shootings are rare in the UK because suspects are less likely to be armed. I’m just saying that when the cops do perceive a threat (the case of the innocent electrician Jean Charles de Menezes is another one: ) they are just as trigger-happy.

            Give cops guns and a potentially armed suspect and the outcomes aren’t good – in the US or the UK.

        1. But it’s incredibly rare and pretty much every single case ends up in the news because of that. The list you posted for April 2021, if it occurred in Britain over the course of, say, a year would be causing all kinds of outrage and alarm and there would be calls for investigations into the police being out of control.

      2. There are numerous factors. A country full of guns is certainly one. Training has a great deal to do with it. There are two main training methods, one is de-escalation the other is use deadly force at the slightest threat.

        Unarmed people getting shot isn’t a “they have a gun” problem, it’s a problem of police being in a hurry to shoot. Or officers using deadly force when the suspect is already incapacitated, like kneeling on their neck until they are dead. I don’t think this is a huge number of police but when other officers on the scene ignore brutality and death, it’s clear there is a serious problem with the police. There have been instances of police being reprimanded or fired for not using deadly force or for standing up to fellow officers who use excessive force. This points to forces with problems that go up to management.

        Another problem is police have largely had accountability removed, they are not subject to most reasonable checks on negligence when they screw up.
        If an engineer screws up a design for a building or bridge, it collapses and people die they can be held responsible. If a police officer shoots an unarmed person, often they aren’t.

        Police have long been accepted as not being liars, systemically, even when large number of witnesses contradict them. It’s only video that has started to change this and often not even when there is video evidence contradicting to police.

        When police have been found to have lied in reports or in court there are almost never consequences. The same is true with prosecutors. Prosecutors almost never face any consequences for unethical or illegal actions in the course of their job.

        In some places it appears time management has become more important than de-escalation. Rather than spend time and resources de-escalating police use over whelming force which tends to escalate the situation.

        I think the career of police officer attracts a certain type of person, one who desires power over others, bullies and authoritarians. Some police forces are taken over by the mind set, some avoid hiring those type of people. But hiring a police officer is like any other job, you get crappy employees. What makes the difference is how management deals with the bad employees. Those who don’t or can’t, can create terrible work environments that get worse.
        This is managements failure to supervise. Perhaps management believe good polices requires heads to be cracked and people shot, perhaps management don’t have the resources to properly manage. Even in regular jobs dealing with bad employees can be expensive and drawn out, especially if they have a strong union. With police criminal charges may also be involved, this complicates the matter and makes it more costly and often an internal conflict with prosecutors and others.

        Finally, police are like any other group, they are a reflection of the society they come from. Some will be racists, some will be closet fascist, some will be incompetent, some will be violent assholes. They are also subject to the same media the rest of the population is. There are plenty of Trump supporters in police forces across the country. Police have all the same biases and cognitive errors as the rest of us as well as a mandate to use force, up to deadly force.

        It’s usually never just one thing.

        1. You make lots of valid points, but as Wilfred Reilly points out, the number of cops killed in the line of duty (360 last year) is vastly more than the number of unarmed people that they kill in error. No-one would be a policeman if they’re expected to repeatedly take on suspects who may be armed, and then get no sympathy if they get it wrong.

          I do agree, yes the US police are way too aggressive and trigger-happy, but isn’t that pretty much inevitable in a country where so many of the suspects will be armed?

          1. “No-one would be a policeman if they’re expected to repeatedly take on suspects who may be armed then get no sympathy if they get it wrong.”

            Why should the police who enforce the laws and hold people responsible for their actions, be held to a lesser standard?

            People who have the power of life and death should be held to the same standard or higher.

            “the number of unarmed people they kill in error” is open to wide interpretation, especially if, as you agree, “I do agree, yes the US police are way too aggressive and trigger-happy” and there is evidence police cover up maleficence and lying.

            “No-one would be a policeman if they’re expected to repeatedly take on suspects who may be armed…”
            Failure to enforce standards and culpability creates a moral hazard. Nor is it just “get it wrong”, there are police who are willfully disregarding citizens lives. Police are not the judge, jury and executioner. At least they are not supposed to be under the American justice system.
            Yes, it appears to be a very difficult, dangerous, often thankless job with serious consequences if they screw up. Yet hundreds of thousands choose the career. There are plenty of dangerous jobs with high levels of responsibility, they don’t get special permission to kill people, by accident or on purpose.
            In the US military soldiers are often held responsible for their actions. Yet millions of Americans chose that career path too.
            Exactly how does the system get better if police and prosecutors often won’t even admit the police screw up? When nothing happens when they lie under oath or in reports?

            Are you suggesting blanket immunity for police for all their actions?
            Should the police motto be ‘It’s a hard job, let us kill a few innocents now and then’?

            1. No, I’m simply suggesting understanding when they get it wrong. It’s 2:30 am, shots have been fired, you know that the person you’ve chasing has a gun. It’s dark, you’re using a flashlight. Is it that easy to tell the difference between (1) he throws the gun away and in the same movement turns to face you and raises his hands, and (2) he turns to face you and raises his hand to point the gun at you?

              1. What an curiously specific hypothetical that’s trying to cover an infinite range of possibilities while ignoring every single point I’ve made.

                I’m going to ignore you now.

  4. McWhorter mentions the case of Tony Timpa, which happened in Dallas. Here are more details on it from Dallas News:

    “The officers pinned his handcuffed arms behind his back for nearly 14 minutes and zip-tied his legs together. By the time he was loaded onto a gurney and put into an ambulance, the 32-year-old was dead.

    The News obtained Dallas Police Department body camera footage after a three-year fight for records related to Timpa’s death. A federal judge ruled Monday in favor of a motion by The News and NBC5 to release records from his death, saying “the public has a compelling interest in understanding what truly took place during a fatal exchange between a citizen and law enforcement.”

    1. And also this:

      “Federal judge tosses excessive force suit against five Dallas officers in Tony Timpa case
      Timpa’s family alleges that the officers, four of whom remain on the force, killed him in 2016 by using an improper prone restraint. But the judge says the five are protected by the ‘qualified immunity’ doctrine……

      Henley said no specific decision from the Fifth Circuit prohibited the officers from “smothering Timpa for 14 minutes” in a prone restraint and that as a result it didn’t matter if the officers violated Timpa’s rights.

      “One of the more unnerving features of qualified immunity is that courts are free to disregard rulings against officers from other circuits,” Henley said. “There will be more unnecessary deaths unless there is real legal change.”

  5. evidence shows clearly that blacks … are subject to nonlethal force more often than whites …

    I wonder, I wonder whether, as a result of the “mood music” being all about the police mistreating blacks, that blacks tend to be less cooperative when stopped by the police, and so as a result the police tend to be more aggressive towards them.

    1. I am convinced that this is the case. The narrative is that cops stop and kill Black folks more or less at random, and this leads to behavior in interactions with police that makes them more likely to be subject to force.
      But there is also the criminality thing. The average murderer, and their victim, in the US is a Black man between 20 and 24.

    2. Really? You think police aggressiveness toward black citizens is the “result of the ‘mood music’ being all about the police mistreating blacks, that blacks tend to be less cooperative when stopped by the police”?

      That statement discloses a profound ignorance of the long US history of the mistreatment of black US citizens by the police. I would commend for your edification regarding this long history the book by Leon LitwackTrouble in Mind.

      1. That’s all well and good but black crime statistics are real and most of the high profile or even medium profile cases or any profile cases of police killing a black person has a component of resisting arrest and disobeying commands. It is right there on video. Or in the Michael Brown Massively dishonest ‘hands up don’t shoot’ story, totally debunked by a DOJ investigation, where Brown did not only resist but try to take his gun.. That lie is still spread.

        Just because there is a terrible history of societal and police misconduct against blacks, ‘in your country’ doesn’t give you or anyone the right to generate and maintain a false narrative.

        Higher rates of crime and resisting arrest ‘does’ play a significant part.

        Also I realize that a parallel DOJ investigation into Ferguson policing found heavily against the police and their general methods. But that is not the point here.

        1. No the point here is that none of this is written upon a blank slate. What is it Prof. Santayana said about those who cannot remember the past?

          Ask your black US acquaintances, if you have any, about their experience of being stopped for “driving while black.” Nearly every black US citizen, of any socio-economic stratum, can recount such experiences. Or ask any black US parent, if you know some, about “the talk” they’ve invariably had with their children as they enter their teenage years regarding the way the should behave during a police encounter to avoid excessive police aggression.

          My point here is that Coel is off base in claiming that aggressive encounters between police officers and black US citizens can be laid at the feet of the uppity attitude blacks have adopted in response to all the “mood music” they’ve heard regarding police mistreatment of blacks.

          The causes are much more complex and multidimensional.

      2. It could be part of it, and the suggestion was made on one of the Glenn Loury & John McWorther videos, so is not outlandish. And it’s about interactions today not in the past.

        We know that US police quickly get aggressive towards any suspect they perceive as being uncooperative. So the issue is, overall, is there some tendency for blacks to be less cooperative when stopped than whites (perhaps owing to fear of aggression)?

  6. I find the question of whether or not to abolish the Senate filibuster most troubling. We know that many Democrats want to abolish it because it is undemocratic and prevents them from passing their agenda. Sullivan blames them for not giving bipartisanship enough of a try. This is absurd. There isn’t the least indication that the Republicans under McConnell have the least interest in cooperating with the Democrats. Yet, the Democrats seem to be oblivious as to what the Republicans would do when they regain power with the filibuster gone.

    The real dangers of a Republican controlled Senate without a filibuster is discussed in a Politico article by Ronald Weich, who previously worked for Democratic icons Edward M. Kennedy and Harry Reid. He cautions with justification that in essence the Republicans will run amok passing a right-wing agenda without the filibuster to block them. So, the question is: do you want to pass legislation you like or block legislation that you don’t? There is no easy answer. Perhaps the answer is not to eliminate the filibuster, but to modify it to make it more difficult to block legislation. The talking filibuster is one possible alternative to the current situation.

    The filibuster controversy is a proxy for a dysfunctional government elected by a dysfunctional society. This country has always been characterized by tribalism, but except for the Civil War era it has never been so extreme. There doesn’t seem to be any realistic plan to mitigate it. One tribe fears losing power and will do anything to retain it. The other tribe wants a fair share of power, but is frustrated in its efforts to achieve it and elements within it are willing to condone extremism to overcome it. Sullivan is right that “the center continues to collapse.” A decade from now we may be living in a country very different from the one we grew up in.

    1. There is a danger of a Republican-controlled Senate without a filibuster but couldn’t that same Senate also eliminate the filibuster? Seems like the Dems should get rid of it in order to take advantage while they can. As you say, the GOP have shown no interest in bipartisanship.

  7. In other news, the Justice Department has decided that the Capitol Police officer who shot and killed an unarmed woman did nothing wrong.

    1. That seems right to me. She was coming through the door into the room where Congress people were sheltering. Once the hordes started coming through that door, they would have completely lost control of the situation. Seems like one person’s death was needed to stop the rest from entering.

      1. Here is a statistic for all those statistic lovers out there. Just got it from the news on TV. If you are Black in America you are 3 times as likely to be shot by the police that white people in America. This is from a study but I did not catch which one.

          1. Yes, it is pretty amazing. Hard to believe this is going to be a winning strategy in many districts but many analysts have pointed out it might be more about making money than winning political office. Not surprisingly, many racists have money and are willing to spend it to further their cause. Trump identified a market that they are rushing to plunder. In fact, this may be what Trump is doing now. He’s pretending to run again in 2024 but only for the donations.

        1. “If you are Black in America you are 3 times as likely to be shot by the police that white people in America.”

          True, but you’re also more than 3 times as likely to be a perpetrator of violent crime. E.g.: “According to the FBI, African-Americans accounted for 55.9% of all homicide offenders in 2019″ [compared to being 13% of the population] “The per-capita offending rate for African-Americans was roughly six times higher than that of whites, and the victim rate is a similar figure.”

          Also: “black youths, who make up 16% of the youth population, accounted for 52% of juvenile violent crime arrests, including 58.5% of youth arrests for homicide and 67% for robbery.”

          And it’s not surprising that those committing violent crime are the ones likely to be shot be the police. Once that is factored in, on a per-interaction basis, the police shootings are pretty race-neutral.

          One can argue that the US police are way too aggressive and shoot way too many people, but, as McWhorter argues, that happens to both blacks and whites.

          1. So to finish this off, which nobody does….where is the accountability. I will maintain that until very recently the police have had free reign. If you do not cover this, you are missing most of the point. Most of the demonstration. What does the great McWhorter say about this.

            1. As I read his piece, McWhorter regrets all killings by law enforcement officers but believes that they won’t be properly held to account until the issue is addressed truthfully and all such deaths are reported equally:

              And upon that, we will settle upon an honest national conversation about the cops as murdering people in race-neutral fashion. Or at least we should.

              1. Sir, in case you have not noticed, the people are tired of conversation. That is why for many month we have had the demonstrations. There must be action to change the behavior of the police and that includes real accountability. This is not something we just sit around the classroom and discuss. Accountability is something you must have regardless of the color.

              2. It’s more than just accountability. The rules of engagement need to change. For example, if someone with a misdemeanor escapes arrest, they should be arrested some other time. Their pay may need to be raised so that hiring can be more selective. Training needs to adjust accordingly. Deferring to mental health professionals in certain circumstances may be part of the solution. Police unions may need to be reined in.

            2. At the risk of putting words in McWhorter’s mouth, his position is that the discussion of poor treatment of citizens by police shouldn’t be as much about race as it is. He focuses on this without directly addressing police reform which, I assume, he feels is not his bailiwick. He’s suggesting that we address the police problem in a race-neutral way. While racism causes Black people to have more contact with police but if you look at police-citizen interactions, the problem is really about economic status. In other words, we ought to fix how police deal with citizens of all races. He’s not denying that racism is a problem but that it is a different problem. This makes sense to me.

          2. How are they measuring who does the crime? Is it who gets caught and convicted? Because, if so, these figures could also be skewed by racism. Imagine the ultimately racist police force that only went after criminals if they are black. The stats would then show that 100% of offenders are black but that would be because the police are letting the white offenders get away with it.

            I’m not saying that this is what is happening here, only that you have to be careful about taking these figures at face value.

    2. Despite the fact that her protesting friends yelled “They have guns,” she decided she’d be the first one through the broken window, with a loaded backpack containing god-knows-what. Security on the other side of that door was a few men with handguns, protecting a small group of terrified, unarmed legislators from a violent mob. That shot, more than effort proceeding it, showed the rioters that there just might be consequences for their actions.

      If ever there a justified self-defense shooting, that was it. That one shot ended the riot.

  8. Sad bookend with Adam Toledo’s death – the 2001 murder of officer Brian Strouse in an alley in Pilsen, shot by a young teen. An ongoing horror. I cannot hear of Toledo;s death without thinking of Strouse’s death and that young teens are then and now entering gangs. Why not cries of ‘defund the gangs’? Applies to both killings.

  9. Regarding young Mr. Toledo, I wonder if and when there will be a general intellectual curiosity and conversation, in the media or elsewhere, about why a 13-year-old should (decide of his own volition to) be out at night with a gun in the first place.

    The U of C provost should publicly offer her pearls of wisdom on every gun (or other means) killing in the city of Chicago.

  10. Sullivan: “….[Dems] ….have decided not to try for any serious bipartisanship on the stimulus.” Nope. Sorry, I really can’t trust his judgement even if 3/4 is right.

    McWhorter on the other hand … a necessary counterbalance.

  11. I looked at the Washington Post database linked by McWhorter. It shows the reverse of what McWhorter is saying. Since 2015, 1497 Blacks killed, 36/million population, 2884 Whites killed, 15/million, 1052 Hispanics killed, 27/million. McWhorter is an intelligent guy, and accustomed to dealing with statistics. Either I am missing something, or he is distorting the figures for his own purposes. If he is saying that police killings of Blacks receives more media attention than killings of Whites he may have a point, but when he says” The database reveals a serious problems with cops and murder, quite race-neutrally” then he is way off base.

    1. If you dis-aggregate based on gender, you see that 170 black women have been shot and killed during the period you mention, as opposed to 2,713 white men. So, a huge discrepancy is not so much based in skin color, as in gender.

      Also, the comparisons of killing to population representation is misleading. The more meaningful metric is police encounters, which McWhorter notes become more likely with poverty. Once seen that way, you do see the safety hardships that poverty causes for black people.

      But it also shows you that class, which is rarely mentioned in this national conversation, is critically important and has been thoroughly, and misleadingly, eclipsed by almost exclusive attention to race.

      1. Quite so. I don’t know if there is enough reliable data(!) to do an ‘epidemiological’ style analysis where many correlating factors are teased out. There are certainly many activists who would resist giving up their simplistic answer for a more complicated one. To the detriment of all.

        I read recently (I can’t find it now) a list of 11 improvements to Police processes that would benefit everybody, not just ‘blacks’. It wasn’t taken up as far as I can tell.

    2. Thank you, I saw the same thing. The WP even says :The rate at which black Americans are killed by police is more than twice as high as the rate for white Americans. No one has ever tried to claim police NEVER kill whites.

  12. I disagree with Sullivan about the new states. Yes we are now in the position where it looks like a Democratic power grab, but this is really the fault of legislators over time who have let a bad position develop, and what the Democrats are proposing is just a long-needed fix. There are roughly 4.3 million US citizens living in US territory who have no voting representation in the Senate or House. This includes DC, PR, Guam, US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

    It is irrelevant what party would benefit from their representation, they deserve it.

    Now I do recognize the problem with making many small states, particularly for the Senate. This is going to make an already undemocratic body even less democratic. California has 100x the population of American Samoa, it’s ridiculous to give them the same government representation in the Senate. To prevent that, and appease Republicans crying ‘unfair’ about adding lots of new states, I’d personally favor some sort of “adding into current states” solution for most of these areas. PR is big enough to be it’s own state, but DC could easily be added to MD or VA. Guam, American Samoa, and Mariana could be added to Hawaii. The Virgin Islands could be included in the new PR state. That adds just 1 state total, it probably casuses some shifts in the 435 House members, but overall, I think that’s not bad.

    Of course it has two huge hurdles. The GOP is one. But the second one is getting the people of those places themselves to agree to it. PR doesn’t necessarily want to be a state. Neither DC, nor VA, nor MD likes the idea of including DC in one of the current states. But, if we are being honest about the best way to give them representation without exacerbating the already undemocratic state of the Senate, mostly pulling these areas into pre-existing states is really the best solution. At least, IMO.

    1. Joining territories with small populations to existing states is a solution for full representation without further unbalancing the Senate. Puerto Rico, should its people choose to do so, is certainly entitled to be a state given its large population, and also because, given that at its first language is Spanish, it would require state sovereignty to retain distinctive elements of its culture. For similar reasons to the latter, the Virgin Islands might more naturally be joined to Florida, which is what I have heard discussed there. D.C. has more people than a few states, so a case could be made for statehood, as well as for reincorporation into Maryland.

      For any territory joined to a state, there may need to be provisions for local autonomy in some areas of governance, given the distances and differences in culture (the Marianas, for example, are Micronesian, not Polynesian, islands).

      In the Turks and Caicos (a small British territory in the West Indies), there has been talk of joining Canada.


    2. It is important that the Dems sell this to the people as democracy, reminding them that voters in these areas will be just as able to vote for the GOP as for the Dems. It is also a move on the side of giving people the power they deserve under the Constitution. Sure, it has a self-serving side but good messaging can overcome that. Unfortunately, the Dems are not good at messaging.

  13. What is the common denominator in so many of these incidents? A gun. Sensible and practical measures, for example, back ground checks and a ban on Assault Weapons like the AR-15 will help. But both are only a start. I spent the first thirty-three years of my life in the UK, the next thirty here in the US, and I will say without equivocation that I have become increasingly concerned that wherever I am, someone may be carrying a weapon, simply because they can, irrespective of whether they feel ‘threatened’.

  14. Odious Sullivan shooting his fat mouth off as always. To wit:
    “Not just that, they also want to add states to the Union, thereby guaranteeing a durable Democratic majority…”

    Perhaps the disenfranchisement of millions of tax paying Puerto Ricans and District of Columbians is more than a shopping expedition by the Dems for new voters? Maybe the potential statehood of both is just a way of addressing a glaring wrong?

    HA! Tell us about the “evils of marijuana” again next, Sulli.

    Why PAY for his “wisdom”, boss? Sheesh!


    1. They (Puerto Ricans selected taxes, but don’t pay Federal Income Taxes….they do pay FICA…..

      “Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States and Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens; however, Puerto Rico is not a US state, but a Commonwealth. Consequently, while all Puerto Rico residents pay federal taxes, many residents are not required to pay federal income taxes. Aside from income tax, U.S. federal taxes include customs taxes,[1] federal commodity taxes, and federal payroll taxes (Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment taxes). ”

  15. In Europe and the UK those mustelids would be considered stoats or ermines (Mustela erminea), not weasels (Mustela nivalis), the long black-tipped tail being the giveaway. The traditional lining of royal robes/mantles -that white lining with black spots- is made from the winter pelts of M. erminea. It became the preferred royal fur, because it was said the ermine would rather die than be soiled.
    I was a bit puzzled why an expert would call a stoat a weasel, so I looked it up: in North America
    M. erminea is known as the short tailed weasel (although the tail is much longer than in nivalis) and M. nivalis as the least weasel or little weasel. In the Americas there is also the long tailed weasel (M. frenata), which is not found in Eurasia.
    Then there are all kind of subspecies: M. nivalis about a dozen, M. erminea about 2 dozen.

  16. “This is divisive, unwarranted, and unseemly, especially in a University devoted to the pursuit of truth.” Well said. The decline of your university is a catastrophe for the culture of academe.

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