Comments: Rational National
Social media accounts connected to Pentland showed that he has been stationed as a drill sergeant at Fort Jackson since 2019, according to the Associated Press. Fort Jackson is the largest U.S. Army basic training base.
Video (detailed below) of the incident shows Pentland asking Deandre what he is doing in the neighborhood before repeatedly telling him to “go away.” The footage does not capture what prompted the altercation.
Two other reports were also made against Pentland that alleged incidents of assault against the victim, Richland County Sheriff’s Department told Newsweek. Those incidents are each being investigated independently.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott confirmed Pentland’s arrest on Wednesday, telling reporters, “The first time I saw the video, it was terrible. It was unnecessary.” He added: “We’re not going to let people be bullies in our community.”
The Richland County Sheriff’s Department described the video as “disturbing” in a tweet issued on Wednesday, promising they “have taken this incident seriously.”
Officials at Fort Jackson also said they were looking into the incident, adding that U.S. Department of Justice authorities were investigating as well.
“This type of behavior is not consistent with our Army Values and will not be condoned,” the official Fort Jackson Twitter account posted on Wednesday, noting that they are aware of the video and “will work closely with each law enforcement agency as investigations move forward.”
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said in a news conference Wednesday, “The first time I saw the video, it was terrible. It was unnecessary.” He added: “We’re not going to let people be bullies in our community.”
After watching the video, Fort Jackson Commanding General Brig. Gen. Beagle, Jr. said the actions were “by no means condoned by any service member.”
He later released a statement on Facebook, writing: “I remain deeply concerned for the members of our Army family, the young man and his family, and the tensions that activities like this amplify over time; please be patient as facts are determined.”
On Facebook, Johnson said she and a friend had been walking in the neighborhood on Monday when they saw what was happening. Another woman filmed the video, Johnson said, and she posted it with her permission.
“She saw the young man in distress and knew he didn’t do anything wrong so she started videoing for his safety!” Johnson wrote.
Johnson said the video did not capture the man slapping Deandre’s hand, prompting his phone to fall to the ground and crack.
She added that she waited at the scene until an officer arrived, and repeatedly told them that Deandre had been assaulted. “The officer told us that his supervisor told him that he could only charge the white guy with malicious injury to property and not assault!” Johnson wrote.
She said she and a friend “circled back to get him out of that situation bc we refused to see D go to jail or lying there dead simply bc he was black. The only thing he did was be black while walking!!!”
Newsweek has contacted Fort Jackson, Johnson, the Richland County Sheriff’s Office and the Columbia Police Department for comment.
In the video, Deandre tells Johnson to call the police, and a woman—identified by Pentland as his wife—says that they have already been called. Then, Pentland is seen shoving Deandre.
The couple accuse Deandre of “picking fights” with people in the neighborhood.
“What is it that you are doing here?” Pentland asks Deandre.
“Walking,” Deandre replies. “Then walk,” Pentland says.
“Well you’ve been here like 15 minutes now,” Pentland’s wife interjects.
Pentland continues: “Walk away. Walk away right now. You need help?.. I’m happy to help.”
He then denies hitting Deandre, adding that “there’s a difference between pushing you.”
He then accuses Deandre of “aggressing on the neighborhood” and, as Deandre moves a little closer to his wife, he shoves Deandre in the shoulder.
“You better walk away,” he says. Raising his voice, he ads: “You walk away. You’re talking to my wife right now.”
He continues: “Check it out, you either walk away or I’m going to carry your a** out of here.”
“You better not touch me,” Deandre tells him, remaining calm throughout the video.
“Or what?” Pentland replies. “What are you going to do? Let’s go, walk away… I’m about to do something to you. You better start walking… You’re in the wrong neighborhood motherf*****. Get out.”
“I live here, sir,” Deandre tells him.
“Where? Where’s your house? What’s your address?” Pentland asks.
When Pentland again accuses Deandre of “harassing” the neighborhood, Deandre replies: “I’m not harassing anyone, I’m walking through the neighborhood, I live here, sir.”
Pentland said that he lives in a “tight-knit community,” adding: “We take care of each other… I have never seen you before in my life.”
Getting up close to the Deandre’s face, he adds: “Check it out motherf*****, I ain’t playing with you. You either get your a** moving or I’m going to move you… I’m about to show you what I can do. You better walk away. Walk away.”
He refuses to identify himself when asked by Deandre. “Are you an officer of the law?” Deandre asks him.
“I’m about to throw you out… you wanna bet? I can do a hell of a lot more than you think I can,” the man responds.
This racist theory is rooted in white supremacist panic.
On Thursday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson caused an uproar by promoting the racist, anti-Semitic, patriarchal and conspiratorial “white replacement theory.” Also known as the “great replacement theory,” it stands on the premise that nonwhite immigrants are being imported (sometimes the Jewish community is accused of orchestrating this) to replace white people and white voters. The theory is also an inherent chastisement of white women for having a lower birthrate than nonwhite women.
“I know that the left and all the gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters, from the third world. But, they become hysterical because that’s what’s happening, actually. Let’s just say it: That’s true.”
Carlson continued, “Every time they import a new voter, I become disenfranchised as a current voter.”
The whole statement is problematic. First, what is the third world? This label originated as a way to categorize countries that didn’t align with Western countries or the former Soviet bloc. It’s now often used to describe poor countries, or developing countries, and by extension, mostly nonwhite majority countries.
When Carlson worries about immigrants from the third world, he is talking about Hispanic, Asian and Black people who he worries will outnumber “current” voters. Current voters, in this formulation, are the white people who make up the majority of the American electorate.
Second, and revealingly, he is admitting that Republicans do not and will not appeal to new citizens who are immigrants.
But although white replacement theory is a conspiracy theory, the fact that the percentage of voters who are white in America is shrinking as a percentage of all voters is not. Neither is the fact that white supremacists are panicked about this.
White supremacists in this country have long worried about being replaced by people, specifically voters, who are not white. In the post-Civil War era, before the current immigrant wave from predominantly nonwhite countries, most of that anxiety in America centered on Black people.
Judge Solomon Calhoon of Mississippi wrote in 1890 of the two decades of Black suffrage following the Civil War, “Negro suffrage is an evil.”
Calhoon worried that white voters had been replaced, or outnumbered, by Black ones, writing: “Shall the ballot remain as now adjusted, the whole country in the meantime taking the chances of the rapid increase of the blacks, and leaving, in the meantime, the whites as they now are in those localities where they are outnumbered?”
Calhoon would go on to become the president of the state’s constitutional convention that year, a convention called with the explicit intention of codifying white supremacy and suppressing the Black vote. States across the South would follow the Mississippi example, calling constitutional conventions of their own, until Jim Crow was the law of the South.
The combination of Jim Crow voter suppression laws and the migration of millions of Black people out of the South during the Great Migration diluted the Black vote, distributing it across more states, and virtually guaranteed that white voters would not be outnumbered by Black ones in any state. The fear of “Black domination” dissipated.
Indeed, as extension of the 1965 Voting Rights Act was being debated in 1969, The New York Times made note of the fact that Attorney General John Mitchell, a proponent of a competing bill, was well aware that even if all the unregistered Black people in the South were registered, their voting power still couldn’t overcome the “present white conservative tide” in the South. As The Times added, “In fact, Mr. Mitchell is known to believe that Negro registration benefits the Republicans because it drives the Southern whites out of the Democratic Party.”
A reporter at the time asked an aide of a Republican representative, “What has happened to the party of Lincoln?” The aide responded, “It has put on a Confederate uniform.”
But now, in addition to Black voters voting overwhelmingly Democratic, there is a wave of nonwhite immigrants who also lean Democratic. And tremendous energy is being exerted not only by white supremacists in the general population, but also Republican office holders, to attack immigrants, curtail immigration, disenfranchise Black and brown voters and assail abortion rights.
One of the surest ways of preventing a Black person from voting is to prevent them from living. As The Times reported in 1970, Leander Perez, a man who had been a judge and prosecutor and “led the last stand against integration” in Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish, once famously linked Black birth control to racial dominance, stating: “The best way to hate a [expletive] is to hate him before he’s born.”
I would even argue that the bizarre obsession with trans people is also rooted in part in white anxiety over reproduction.
The architects of whiteness in America drew the definition so narrowly that it rendered it fragile, unsustainable, and in constant need of defense. Replacement of the white majority in this country by a more multiracial, multicultural majority is inevitable. So is white supremacist panic over it.
I live in Roswell, Georgia, 20 minutes north of Atlanta. I walked in and immediately was able to vote in the general election, and was behind one person when I voted in the Senate runoff in January. Roswell is 74% white and 11% black with a population of about 90,000.
Union City, Georgia is in Fulton County along with Roswell (and most of Atlanta). Union City is 81% black, 8.6% white and has a population of just over 20,000. Here is a photo of the polling location for Union City in the general election last year.
To answer your question, perhaps those in the photo above didn’t expect to have to wait because they thought (foolishly I know) that their polling location would be similar to my own.
After all, they’re in the same county. But in the same county of a state wherein the average wait in the last hour of polling in majority-minority zones is 51 minutes, while that wait in majority-white zones is 6 minutes. But Republican lawmakers in Georgia are just “shocked” at people saying their election reforms smell just a bit like Jim Crowe.
My ass. They know exactly what they’re doing.
Line to vote in the primaries, June 2020. Source.
Republican “election advisors” have been managing to get polling locations closed to “save money” in black neighborhoods for years. Those locations that managed to stay open complained to the Republican Secretary of State’s Office that they had defective or non working voting machines that needed to be replaced and received … nothing, further exacerbating wait times in polling locations that just happen to be predominately Democrat.
So why on Earth is a single person surprised when, after the state elects two Democratic Senator and a Democratic President despite all of the crap I just described, the Republican controlled State Legislature passes voting reforms that will cost the state $50 million dollars and give the Republican controlled state legislature the power to unilaterally determine a county’s election board isn’t performing adequately and take over control themselves, allow anyone in the state to contest election results if they feel like they saw fraud occurring at a polling location (keep in mind a rural outpost of this state elected Marjorie Green To Congress), and overall made it just a little more difficult and/or uncomfortable for people to vote in a manner that disproportionately affects black voters.
So it isn’t an issue of whether one is smart enough to vote. And it isn’t an issue of providing water. And it isn’t even an issue of ID, because on the list of complaints regarding voting in Georgia ID restrictions are WAY down the list. But when it’s just one thing after another to make it a little more difficult for blacks to vote over time it adds up. And collectively it’s leads to quite reasonable accusations of racism against the state assembly, corporations distancing themselves from state Republican lawmakers, and questions like this, which (to me) is implying minority voters should have to bring water with them to vote.
When I had to wait about 30 seconds.
09:42communication and he is this attitude09:45that he’s a cop and that you have to09:48listen to the cops because he’s them and09:50you’re you yeah and that that’s like09:53when he’s telling her to put the09:55cigarette out and she’s saying I don’t09:57have to do that and he’s saying get out09:58of your vehicle and she’s saying I don’t10:00have to do that and then he’s screaming10:02at her I mean that’s that’s all right10:04there yeah so it seems like to me he10:05wants compliance he won’t sir to listen10:07he does yeah he does what he gets it’s10:10funny the what’s remarkable about that10:14tape which I must have seen 50 times and10:18which has been viewed on YouTube you10:20know even a couple million times is how10:22quickly it escalates you know the whole10:24thing is it’s insanely short yeah you10:28you would think if I was telling you the10:30story of this you would think oh this10:32unfolds over 10 minutes and it doesn’t10:35it unfolds over a minute and a half and10:39that what I remember years ago I wrote10:41my second book blink and I have in that10:44book a chapter about a very famous10:47infamous police shooting in New York10:49case of amadou diallo I remember that I10:51remember that was shot like 40 times by10:53cops yeah and one of the big things I10:55was interested in talking about in that10:59case was how long does it take how long11:02did it take for that whole terrible11:05sequence to go11:06down so from the moment the police11:08develop it suspicions about amadou11:12diallo to the moment that amadou diallo11:14is lying dead on his front porch how11:17long how much time elapsed and the11:19answer is like two seconds11:21it’s boo boo boo it’s like and I had a11:24conversation with them actually here in11:26the valley with Gavin de Becker11:30has he ever been on your show no11:32fascinating guy was a security expert on11:35a security expert incredibly interesting11:37guy’s friends with Sam Harris I know11:39that yes yeah yeah and he was talking11:43about this question of time that when11:46you’re a security guard guarding someone11:48you know famous a lot of what you’re11:50trying to do is to inject time into the11:53scenario instead of you don’t want11:56something to unfold in a second and a11:58half where you have almost no time to12:00react properly and what you want to do12:01is to uh knit to unfold in five seconds12:03if you can an align this up I can’t12:06remember his exact term but basically12:07what your job is is to add seconds into12:10the the encounter so that you have a12:13chance to intelligently respond to12:16what’s going on and so he was hit this12:18great riff about um how good Israeli12:23secrets of Secret Service guys are and12:26one of the things they do is they’re12:28they’re they’re either not armed or they12:31don’t they’re trained not to go for12:33their weapons in these situations12:35because this point is so say you’re12:37guarding the president you’re a body man12:40for the president you walk into a crowd12:42somebody comes up to you like pulls a12:45gun wants to shoot the president12:46his point is if you’re the secret12:48security guy and your first instinct in12:51response to someone pulling a gun is to12:53go for your own gun you’ve lost a second12:55and a half right your hands got to go12:58down to here your whole focus is on13:00getting to your own gun and in the13:01meantime the other guy whose guns13:04already out has already shot you’ve lost13:06you need to be someone who forgets about13:08your own gun and just focuses on the on13:12the man in front of you right and13:13protected the president but he was all13:15in the context of time is this really13:18crucial13:20variable in these kind of encounters and13:22everything as a police officer you13:24should be doing is slowing it down wait13:28I you know13:30analyze what’s happening and that’s what13:33he doesn’t do the cop in this instance13:35speeds it up right he goes to DEFCON you13:39know she likes a cigarette and within13:40seconds he’s screaming at her this is13:43like you know a parent shouldn’t do that13:45I mean let a little police officer by13:47the side of the highway Brett but the13:48difference is he knows she’s not a13:50criminal13:50I mean he must know it’s [ __ ]13:54he’s pulling her over because he’s13:56trying to write a ticket and the way13:58he’s communicating with her when she13:59lights a cigarette14:00it’s like she’s inferior like he this is14:04not someone who’s scared he’s not scared14:07of a perpetrator he’s not scared that14:09there’s a criminal in the car about to14:10shoot him he’s not scared of that at all14:12he wants uh Terr total complete14:15compliance and he’s talking to her like14:18like he’s a drill sergeant but can’t you14:21can’t both those things be true how so14:25well in this so in the deposition he14:27gives which I get to the end of the book14:29and I got the tape of the deposition14:30it’s bad it’s totally fascinating14:32it’s like he’s sitting down with the14:34investigating officer in looking into14:37the death of Sandra bland and he’s got I14:39don’t know how long it is two hours now14:41he’s walking them through what he was14:43thinking that day and he makes the case14:46that he was terrified that he was14:49convinced he says he goes back to his14:52squad car comes up and there’s submit14:55there’s some evidence to support this so14:57he pulls her over and he goes to the14:59passenger side window and leans and says15:02ma’am you realize why I pulled you over15:04blah blah and is are you okay because he15:06she doesn’t seem right to him she gives15:09him her license he goes back to his15:10squad car and he says while he’s in the15:12squad car he looks ahead and he sees her15:15making what he calls furtive movements15:17so he’s like furtive movements also he15:20thinks she’s being all kind of jumpy and15:23you know isn’t he just says I saw her15:25moving around in ways it didn’t make me15:27happy and then when he returns to the15:29car he returns driver’s side which is15:32crucial because if15:33you’re a cop you go driver’s side only15:35if you think that you might be in danger15:36right he doesn’t if you go driver’s side15:39you’re exposing yourself to the road15:40when you reason you do that is it when15:42your driver’s side you can see the it’s15:45very very difficult if someone has a gun15:47to shoot the police officer who’s pulled15:50them over if the police officer is on15:51the driver’s side right you have an15:53angle if they’re on the passenger side15:55so why does he go but if he thinks she’s15:57harmless there’s no reason to go back15:58driver’s side I think this guy I think16:01these two things are linked I actually16:02believe him he constructs this16:04ridiculous fantasy about how she’s16:08dangerous but I think that’s just what16:10he was trained to do he’s a paranoid cop16:12and then why is he’s so insistent that16:16she be compliant for the same reason16:19because he’s terrified he’s like do16:21exactly what I say cuz I don’t know what16:23the what’s gonna happen here right and16:24she’s I you know I I don’t know I I16:28don’t think those two those two strains16:32of of interpretation are mutually16:34exclusive mmm that’s interesting it16:37didn’t sound like he was scared at all16:40it sounds like he was pissed that she16:42wasn’t listening to him yeah I didn’t I16:44didn’t think he sounded even remotely16:45scared I felt like he had I mean we’re16:49reading into it right right I have no16:51idea but from my interpretation was he16:54had decided that she wasn’t listening to16:57him and he was gonna make her listen him16:59yeah that’s what I got out of it I17:01didn’t get any fear and I thought that17:03version of it that he described just17:05sounds like horseshit it sounds like17:07what you would say after the fact to17:09strengthen your case well they so17:12there’s another element in here that I17:13get into which is I got his record as a17:17police officer he’d been on the on the17:19force for I forgot nine ten months and17:22we have a record of every traffic stop17:24he ever made and when you look at his17:26list of traffic stops you reason you17:28realized that what happened that day17:30with Sandra bland was not an anomaly17:33that he’s one of those guys who pulls17:35over everyone for [ __ ] reasons mmm17:38all day long so I think I’ve forgotten17:40exact number but in the hour before he17:43pulled over Sandra bland he pulled over17:45for people for other people for equally17:48ridiculous reasons he’s that cop no and17:51he’s that cop because he’s been trained17:53that way right that’s a kind of quotas17:55strange strain of modern policing which17:57says go beyond the ticket pull someone17:59over if you if anything looks a little18:01bit weird because you might find18:02something else now if you look at his18:04history as a cop he almost never found18:06anything else his history is a cop in18:09fact I went through this I forget how18:11many hundreds of traffic stops he had in18:13nine months if you go through them18:15he has like once he found some marijuana18:17on a kid and by the way the town in18:19which he was working as a college town18:21so I mean how hard is that I think he18:24found a gun once misdemeanor gun but18:28everything else was like pulling over18:30people for you know the the light above18:33their license plate was out got that’s18:37the level of stuff he was using he did18:39this all day long every day18:43so he’s like to him it’s second nature18:46yeah pull her over like who knows what’s18:49going on she’s out of state she’s young18:51black woman was this comparable to the18:53way the rest of the cops on the force18:54and his division did it well I looked at18:57I didn’t look at the rest of the cops on18:59his voice what I looked at were state19:02numbers to the wherever they’re several19:05American states give us like North19:07Carolina for example will give us19:10precise complete statistics on the19:16number of traffic stops done by their19:18police officers and the reasons for19:20those stops so when you look at that so19:22I have the I look at the North Carolina19:24numbers for example in the North19:25Carolina Highway Patrol it’s the same19:27thing they’re pulling over unbelievable19:29numbers of people and finding nothing19:31like night you know one percent less19:34than one percent hit rates in some cases19:36of being hit rate being finding19:38something of interest19:39so like they’re pulling over ninety nine19:41people for no reason in order to find19:43one person who’s got you know a bag of19:46dope or something in the car19:48you cannot conduct policing in in a19:53civil society like that and expect to19:55have decent relationships between law19:57enforcement19:58in the civilian population yeah no20:00question but doesn’t that sort of20:02support the idea that he’s full of [ __ ]20:03that he was really concerned that she20:05had something he’d never encountered20:07anything well or or this was the one the20:11fantasy in his head is so what so the20:13questions why does he keep doing it if20:14this is a guy who day in day out pulls20:16over people for no reason and finds20:18nothing and continues to do it20:20now there’s two explanations one is he’s20:22totally cynical and thinks this is the20:24way to be an effective police officer X20:26mission number two is this is a guy who20:28has a powerful fantasy in his head that20:30one day I’m gonna hit the jackpot and20:33I’m gonna open the trunk and is going to20:34be 15 pounds of heroin and I’m gonna be20:37the biggest star who ever lived I think20:39there’s also a rush of just being able20:41to get people to pull over this the the20:44compliance thing which is another reason20:46why he was so furious that what she20:47wasn’t listening to him yeah and she20:48kept a cigarette lit yeah or she was20:51listening but not complying yes yeah um20:53what are the laws I mean are you allowed20:56to smoke a cigarette in your car when a20:57cop pulls you over how does it work like21:00that21:00yeah I mean of course yeah they can’t21:03stop you from engaging they can’t tell21:05you to put out your cigarette there’s no21:07law no he could have said I mean no21:10there’s no law I mean the car though two21:13things the courts historically give21:16enormous leeway to the police officers21:19in a traffic stop as opposed to a21:21person-to-person stop but uh but no I I21:24mean right this is about what he should21:26have said is he could have said ma’am do21:31you mind I would prefer if you put out21:35the cigarette while we’re talking or I’m21:37allergic to smoke or whatever I mean21:39he’s a million ways to him to do it21:40nicely21:40yeah but he’s he’s a jackass about yeah21:42but I mean he’s basically doing the job21:46like a jackass he’s doing a jackass21:48version of being a cop well so this is21:50so this is one of a really really21:53crucial point in the argument of the21:54book which is I think the real lesson of21:58that case is not that he’s a bad cop22:00he’s in fact doing precisely as he is22:02was in trained and instructed to do he’s22:05a he’s the ideal cop and the problem is22:10with the particular philosophy of22:12law enforcement that has emerged over22:14the last ten years in this country which22:16has incentivized and encouraged police22:20officers to engage in these incredibly22:23low reward activities like pulling over22:26a hundred people or defying one person22:28who’s done something wrong that has22:29become enshrined in the strategy of many22:32police forces around the country they22:34tell them to do this I have a whole22:37section of book right go through in22:38detail one of the most important police22:41training manuals which is you know22:45required reading for somebody coming up22:47and which they just walk you through22:48this like it is your job to pull over22:51lots and lots and lots and lots of22:53people even if you only find something22:55in a small percentage of cases why22:57that’s what being a proactive police22:58officer is all about right so they are23:01trained that that phrase go beyond the23:03ticket is a is a term of art in police23:07training like you got to be thinking you23:09sure you pulled him over for having a23:11taillight that’s out23:12but you’re look you’re thinking beyond23:14that is there something else in the car23:16that’s problematic that’s to try to find23:18so there he was being a dutiful police23:22officer and the the answer is to23:24re-examine our philosophies of law23:27enforcement not know I mean you can’t23:30dismiss this thing by saying oh that’s23:32just a particularly bad cop not great23:34but I don’t know if he’s any worse than23:36you know he’s just doing what he was23:38trained to do that’s the issue23:40he should be trained to do something23:41different right that is the issue right23:42the issue is there this is standard23:45practice a treat citizens that are doing23:48nothing wrong as if they’re criminals23:50yeah and pull them over and give them23:52extreme paranoia and freak them out yeah23:55I hope you find something I was home I’m23:58Canadian and I was home in Canada24:00small-town Canada couple weeks ago and I24:04saw in the pack you know how these cars24:06always have there’s often that our24:08slogan on the side of the car the back24:09of the commune so in my little hometown24:11in southwestern Ontario sleepy you know24:14farm country the slogan on the back of24:17the police cars is people helping people24:20so Canadian like the X know understand24:25this24:26country with very low levels of gun24:29ownership which means that a police24:30officer does not enter into an encounter24:32with a civilian with the same degree of24:34fear or paranoia that the civilian has a24:37handgun right which is a big part of24:39this regardless of how one feels about24:42gun laws in this country the fact that24:44there are lots of guns mean makes the24:46job of a police officer a lot harder and24:48every police officer will tell you that24:49in Canada they don’t have that fear but24:51it’s also Canada and its small town24:53Canada and so when you encounter a24:55police officer in my little town he’s24:57like he’s people helping people he’s24:59like he’s like driving like a Camry and25:02he’s you know he’s like this genial25:04person who was a really camera amis I25:06forgotten exactly what the driver was25:08not like they’re not driving scars yeah25:11explorers painted black with like big25:14bull bars at the front right and then25:17you go you know I was you go I mean even25:20in LA I hate you know I like that25:22cars are painted black and white so they25:25look ferocious I mean the whole thing25:27that was it is still look ferocious do I25:30just look they identify as police to25:32connait to a Canadian looks to me it25:35looks a little why do they have to paint25:37them black forgets nothing Oakland25:39Raiders I mean it’s like what do you25:41think they should paint them something25:43mild and like bright yellow something25:45lovely something lovely like a nice can25:48you imagine a like a teal or a25:50lime-green well that would be yeah25:52because there’s a lot of black cars a25:54lot of white cars a lot of teal cars25:55it’s good so it would yeah it would25:57stand out like oh it’s cop this paint26:00car but you know this kind of symbolism26:03right matters right right you wanna see26:06an image sheriff joe arpaio who makes26:08all those prisoners wear pink yeah yeah26:11that’s kind of thing but I mean to26:14against his point though how many women26:16shoot cops26:18isn’t that an insanely low number yeah I26:21mean insanely low I mean what are the26:24numbers I mean it’s probably almost26:26non-existent26:27yeah well guys pull over women I don’t26:29think they’re worried about being shot I26:30really don’t I think it’s horseshit I26:33think it’s all after the fact yeah he26:35was trying to concoct some sort of an26:36excuse I was gonna excuse for26:38is he still in the force I know he was26:41either he’s kicked off for I forgotten26:46the precise language they used but for26:48basically being impolite to a civilian26:52but um yeah I don’t think there’s a lot26:54of but I don’t know whether I mean I I26:57still think we’re saying the same thing26:59which is the thing that’s driving him27:02his motivation is not rational right and27:05if you were a rational actor you would27:07never engage in an activity where 99.9%27:10of your police stops resulted in nothing27:13right27:14yeah he’s he is off in some weird kind27:17of fantasy land for a reason which is27:20that’s what in certain jurisdictions in27:23this country that’s what law enforcement27:24has come to look at Brooke like yeah27:26that’s that’s problematic it’s a huge27:28problem27:34[Applause]
Social change can be pursued with mercy and hope.
Like a lot of people, I’ve tried to envision a way to promote social change that doesn’t involve destroying people’s careers over a bad tweet, that doesn’t reduce people to simplistic labels, that is more about a positive agenda to redistribute power to the marginalized than it is about simply blotting out the unworthy. I’m groping for a social justice movement, in other words, that would be anti-oppression and without the dehumanizing cruelty we’ve seen of late.
I tried to write a column describing what that might look like — and failed. It wasn’t clear in my head.
But this week I interviewed Esau McCaulley, a New Testament professor at Wheaton College and a contributing writer for New York Times Opinion. He described a distinctly Christian vision of social justice I found riveting and a little strange (in a good way) and important for everybody to hear, Christian and non-Christian, believer and nonbeliever.
This vision begins with respect for the equal dignity of each person. It is based on the idea that we are all made in the image of God. It abhors any attempt to dehumanize anybody on any front. We may be unjustly divided in a zillion ways, but a fundamental human solidarity in being part of the same creation.
The Christian social justice vision also emphasizes the importance of memory. The Bible is filled with stories of marginalization and transformation, which we continue to live out. Exodus is the complicated history of how a fractious people comes together to form a nation.
Today, many Americans are trying to tell the true history of our people, a tale that doesn’t whitewash the shameful themes in our narrative nor downplay the painful but uneven progress — realist but not despairing.
McCaulley doesn’t describe racism as a problem, but as a sin enmeshed with other sins, like greed and lust. Some people don’t like “sin” talk. But to cast racism as a sin is useful in many ways.
The concept of sin gives us an action plan to struggle against it: acknowledge the sin, confess the sin, ask forgiveness for the sin, turn away from the sin, restore the wrong done. If racism is America’s collective sin then the tasks are: tell the truth about racism, turn away from racism, offer reparations for racism.
A struggle against a sin is not the work of a week or a year, since sin keeps popping back up. But this vision has led to some of the most significant social justice victories in history: William Wilberforce’s fight against the slave trade, the Rev. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and the Confessing Church’s struggle against Nazism. And, of course, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.
From Frederick Douglass and Howard Thurman to Martin Luther King Jr. on down, the Christian social justice movement has relentlessly exposed evil by forcing it face to face with Christological good. The marches, the sit-ins, the nonviolence. “You can’t get to just ends with unjust means,” McCaulley told me. “The ethic of Jesus is as important as the ends of liberation.”
He pointed me to the argument Thurman made in “Jesus and the Disinherited,” that hatred is a great motivator, but it burns down more than the object of its ire. You can feel rage but there has to be something on the other side of anger.
That is the ethic of self-emptying love — neither revile the reviler nor allow him to stay in his sin. The Christian approach to power is to tell those with power to give it up for the sake of those who lack. There is a relentless effort to rebuild relationship because God is relentless in pursuit of us.
“He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love,” King wrote. “We can never say, ‘I will forgive you, but I won’t have anything further to do with you.’ Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again.”
McCaulley emphasizes that forgiveness — like the kind offered by the congregants of the Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, S.C., and family members after parishioners were murdered in 2015 by a white supremacist — is not a stand-alone thing. It has to come with justice and change: “Why is Black forgiveness required again and again? Why is forgiveness heard but the demand for justice ignored?”
But this vision does not put anybody outside the sphere of possible redemption. “If you tell us you are trying to change, we will come alongside you,” McCaulley says. “When the church is at its best it opens up to the possibility of change, to begin again.”
New life is always possible, for the person and the nation. This is the final way the Christian social justice vision is distinct. When some people talk about social justice it sounds as if group-versus-group power struggles are an eternal fact of human existence. We all have to armor up for an endless war.
But, as McCaulley writes in his book “Reading While Black,” “the Old and New Testaments have a message of salvation, liberation and reconciliation.”
On the other side of justice, we reach the beloved community and multiethnic family of humankind. This vision has a destination, and thus walks not in bitterness but in hope.
“You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey,” is the title of the very funny, if completely horrifying, new book by comedian and late-night host Amber Ruffin. The book, which Amber co-wrote with her sister Lacey Lamar, is a collection of essays about all the racist sh*t Lacey has to put up with as a Black woman living and working in Omaha, Nebraska. On this episode of Next Question with Katie Couric, Katie talks with the sisters about growing up in Omaha, their different trajectories and experiences with racism and how humor can be used to expose and talk about the hard stuff. Katie also explores Amber’s career, her new show (The Amber Ruffin Show, on Peacock) and her incredible ability to skewer the kind of everyday racism she and her siblings have always put up with. And if you haven’t seen it already, go watch Amber make the case for a White History Month.
G.O.P. cynics have been coddling crazies for a long time.
One striking aspect of the Capitol Hill putsch was that none of the rioters’ grievances had any basis in reality.
No, the election wasn’t stolen — there is no evidence of significant electoral fraud. No, Democrats aren’t part of a satanic pedophile conspiracy. No, they aren’t radical Marxists — even the party’s progressive wing would be considered only moderately left of center in any other Western democracy.
So all the rage is based on lies. But what’s almost as striking as the fantasies of the rioters is how few leading Republicans have been willing, despite the violence and desecration, to tell the MAGA mob that their conspiracy theories are false.
Bear in mind that Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, and two-thirds of his colleagues voted against accepting the Electoral College results even after the riot. (McCarthy then shamelessly decried “division,” saying that “we must call on our better angels.”)
Or consider the behavior of leading Republicans who aren’t usually considered extremists. On Sunday Senator Rob Portman declared that we need to “restore confidence in the integrity of our electoral system.” Portman isn’t stupid; he has to know that the only reason so many people doubt the election results is that members of his party deliberately fomented that doubt. But he’s still keeping up the pretense.
And the cynicism and cowardice of leading Republicans is, I would argue, the most important cause of the nightmare now enveloping our nation.
Of course we need to understand the motives of our homegrown enemies of democracy. In general, political scientists find — not surprisingly, given America’s history — that racial antagonism is the best predictor of willingness to countenance political violence. Anecdotally, personal frustrations — often involving social interactions, not “economic anxiety” — also seem to drive many extremists.
But neither racism nor widespread attraction to conspiracy theories is new in our political life. The worldview described in Richard Hofstadter’s classic 1964 essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” is barely distinguishable from QAnon beliefs today.
So there’s only so much to be gained from interviewing red-hatted guys in diners; there have always been people like that. If there are or seem to be more such people than in the past, it probably has less to do with intensified grievances than with outside encouragement.
For the big thing that has changed since Hofstadter wrote is that one of our major political parties has become willing to tolerate and, indeed, feed right-wing political paranoia.
This coddling of the crazies was, at first, almost entirely cynical. When the G.O.P. began moving right in the 1970s its true agenda was mainly economic — what its leaders wanted, above all, were business deregulation and tax cuts for the rich. But the party needed more than plutocracy to win elections, so it began courting working-class whites with what amounted to thinly disguised racist appeals.
Not incidentally, white supremacy has always been sustained in large part through voter suppression. So it shouldn’t be surprising to see right-wingers howling about a rigged election — after all, rigging elections is what their side is accustomed to doing. And it’s not clear to what extent they actually believe that this election was rigged, as opposed to being enraged that this time the usual vote-rigging didn’t work.
But it’s not just about race. Since Ronald Reagan, the G.O.P. has been closely tied to the hard-line Christian right. Anyone shocked by the prevalence of insane conspiracy theories in 2020 should look back to “The New World Order,” published by Reagan ally Pat Robertson in 1991, which saw America menaced by an international cabal of Jewish bankers, Freemasons and occultists. Or they should check out a 1994 video promoted by Jerry Falwell Sr. called “The Clinton Chronicles,” which portrayed Bill Clinton as a drug smuggler and serial killer.
So what has changed since then? For a long time Republican elites imagined that they could exploit racism and conspiracy theorizing while remaining focused on a plutocratic agenda. But with the rise first of the Tea Party, then of Donald Trump, the cynics found that the crazies were actually in control, and that they wanted to destroy democracy, not cut tax rates on capital gains.
And Republican elites have, with few exceptions, accepted their new subservient status.
You might have hoped that a significant number of sane Republican politicians would finally say that enough is enough, and break with their extremist allies. But Trump’s party didn’t balk at his corruption and abuse of power; it stood by him when he refused to accept electoral defeat; and some of its members are responding to a violent attack on Congress by complaining about their loss of Twitter followers.
And there’s no reason to believe that the atrocities yet to come — for there will be more atrocities — will make a difference. The G.O.P. has reached the culmination of its long journey away from democracy, and it’s hard to see how it can ever be redeemed.