Who Is Jonathan Pentland? Army Sergeant Charged With Assaulting Black Man in Viral Video

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.

Jonathan Pentland
U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Captain Jonathan Pentland, 42, has been arrested and charged with third-degree assault. Richland County Sheriff’s Department

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.

What happened?

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 youI’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.

Tucker Carlson and White Replacement

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.

As Carlson put it:

“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.

If a person is not smart enough to bring water with them to vote, are they smart enough for voting?

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.

The Curious Death of Sandra Bland w/Malcolm Gladwell | Joe Rogan

Taken from JRE #1383 w/Malcolm Gladwell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Okg2L…
09:42
communication and he is this attitude
09:45
that he’s a cop and that you have to
09:48
listen to the cops because he’s them and
09:50
you’re you yeah and that that’s like
09:53
when he’s telling her to put the
09:55
cigarette out and she’s saying I don’t
09:57
have to do that and he’s saying get out
09:58
of your vehicle and she’s saying I don’t
10:00
have to do that and then he’s screaming
10:02
at her I mean that’s that’s all right
10:04
there yeah so it seems like to me he
10:05
wants compliance he won’t sir to listen
10:07
he does yeah he does what he gets it’s
10:10
funny the what’s remarkable about that
10:14
tape which I must have seen 50 times and
10:18
which has been viewed on YouTube you
10:20
know even a couple million times is how
10:22
quickly it escalates you know the whole
10:24
thing is it’s insanely short yeah you
10:28
you would think if I was telling you the
10:30
story of this you would think oh this
10:32
unfolds over 10 minutes and it doesn’t
10:35
it unfolds over a minute and a half and
10:39
that what I remember years ago I wrote
10:41
my second book blink and I have in that
10:44
book a chapter about a very famous
10:47
infamous police shooting in New York
10:49
case of amadou diallo I remember that I
10:51
remember that was shot like 40 times by
10:53
cops yeah and one of the big things I
10:55
was interested in talking about in that
10:59
case was how long does it take how long
11:02
did it take for that whole terrible
11:05
sequence to go
11:06
down so from the moment the police
11:08
develop it suspicions about amadou
11:12
diallo to the moment that amadou diallo
11:14
is lying dead on his front porch how
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long how much time elapsed and the
11:19
answer is like two seconds
11:21
it’s boo boo boo it’s like and I had a
11:24
conversation with them actually here in
11:26
the valley with Gavin de Becker
11:30
has he ever been on your show no
11:32
fascinating guy was a security expert on
11:35
a security expert incredibly interesting
11:37
guy’s friends with Sam Harris I know
11:39
that yes yeah yeah and he was talking
11:43
about this question of time that when
11:46
you’re a security guard guarding someone
11:48
you know famous a lot of what you’re
11:50
trying to do is to inject time into the
11:53
scenario instead of you don’t want
11:56
something to unfold in a second and a
11:58
half where you have almost no time to
12:00
react properly and what you want to do
12:01
is to uh knit to unfold in five seconds
12:03
if you can an align this up I can’t
12:06
remember his exact term but basically
12:07
what your job is is to add seconds into
12:10
the the encounter so that you have a
12:13
chance to intelligently respond to
12:16
what’s going on and so he was hit this
12:18
great riff about um how good Israeli
12:23
secrets of Secret Service guys are and
12:26
one of the things they do is they’re
12:28
they’re they’re either not armed or they
12:31
don’t they’re trained not to go for
12:33
their weapons in these situations
12:35
because this point is so say you’re
12:37
guarding the president you’re a body man
12:40
for the president you walk into a crowd
12:42
somebody comes up to you like pulls a
12:45
gun wants to shoot the president
12:46
his point is if you’re the secret
12:48
security guy and your first instinct in
12:51
response to someone pulling a gun is to
12:53
go for your own gun you’ve lost a second
12:55
and a half right your hands got to go
12:58
down to here your whole focus is on
13:00
getting to your own gun and in the
13:01
meantime the other guy whose guns
13:04
already out has already shot you’ve lost
13:06
you need to be someone who forgets about
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your own gun and just focuses on the on
13:12
the man in front of you right and
13:13
protected the president but he was all
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in the context of time is this really
13:18
crucial
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variable in these kind of encounters and
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everything as a police officer you
13:24
should be doing is slowing it down wait
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I you know
13:30
analyze what’s happening and that’s what
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he doesn’t do the cop in this instance
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speeds it up right he goes to DEFCON you
13:39
know she likes a cigarette and within
13:40
seconds he’s screaming at her this is
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like you know a parent shouldn’t do that
13:45
I mean let a little police officer by
13:47
the side of the highway Brett but the
13:48
difference is he knows she’s not a
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criminal
13:50
I mean he must know it’s [ __ ]
13:54
he’s pulling her over because he’s
13:56
trying to write a ticket and the way
13:58
he’s communicating with her when she
13:59
lights a cigarette
14:00
it’s like she’s inferior like he this is
14:04
not someone who’s scared he’s not scared
14:07
of a perpetrator he’s not scared that
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there’s a criminal in the car about to
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shoot him he’s not scared of that at all
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he wants uh Terr total complete
14:15
compliance and he’s talking to her like
14:18
like he’s a drill sergeant but can’t you
14:21
can’t both those things be true how so
14:25
well in this so in the deposition he
14:27
gives which I get to the end of the book
14:29
and I got the tape of the deposition
14:30
it’s bad it’s totally fascinating
14:32
it’s like he’s sitting down with the
14:34
investigating officer in looking into
14:37
the death of Sandra bland and he’s got I
14:39
don’t know how long it is two hours now
14:41
he’s walking them through what he was
14:43
thinking that day and he makes the case
14:46
that he was terrified that he was
14:49
convinced he says he goes back to his
14:52
squad car comes up and there’s submit
14:55
there’s some evidence to support this so
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he pulls her over and he goes to the
14:59
passenger side window and leans and says
15:02
ma’am you realize why I pulled you over
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blah blah and is are you okay because he
15:06
she doesn’t seem right to him she gives
15:09
him her license he goes back to his
15:10
squad car and he says while he’s in the
15:12
squad car he looks ahead and he sees her
15:15
making what he calls furtive movements
15:17
so he’s like furtive movements also he
15:20
thinks she’s being all kind of jumpy and
15:23
you know isn’t he just says I saw her
15:25
moving around in ways it didn’t make me
15:27
happy and then when he returns to the
15:29
car he returns driver’s side which is
15:32
crucial because if
15:33
you’re a cop you go driver’s side only
15:35
if you think that you might be in danger
15:36
right he doesn’t if you go driver’s side
15:39
you’re exposing yourself to the road
15:40
when you reason you do that is it when
15:42
your driver’s side you can see the it’s
15:45
very very difficult if someone has a gun
15:47
to shoot the police officer who’s pulled
15:50
them over if the police officer is on
15:51
the driver’s side right you have an
15:53
angle if they’re on the passenger side
15:55
so why does he go but if he thinks she’s
15:57
harmless there’s no reason to go back
15:58
driver’s side I think this guy I think
16:01
these two things are linked I actually
16:02
believe him he constructs this
16:04
ridiculous fantasy about how she’s
16:08
dangerous but I think that’s just what
16:10
he was trained to do he’s a paranoid cop
16:12
and then why is he’s so insistent that
16:16
she be compliant for the same reason
16:19
because he’s terrified he’s like do
16:21
exactly what I say cuz I don’t know what
16:23
the what’s gonna happen here right and
16:24
she’s I you know I I don’t know I I
16:28
don’t think those two those two strains
16:32
of of interpretation are mutually
16:34
exclusive mmm that’s interesting it
16:37
didn’t sound like he was scared at all
16:40
it sounds like he was pissed that she
16:42
wasn’t listening to him yeah I didn’t I
16:44
didn’t think he sounded even remotely
16:45
scared I felt like he had I mean we’re
16:49
reading into it right right I have no
16:51
idea but from my interpretation was he
16:54
had decided that she wasn’t listening to
16:57
him and he was gonna make her listen him
16:59
yeah that’s what I got out of it I
17:01
didn’t get any fear and I thought that
17:03
version of it that he described just
17:05
sounds like horseshit it sounds like
17:07
what you would say after the fact to
17:09
strengthen your case well they so
17:12
there’s another element in here that I
17:13
get into which is I got his record as a
17:17
police officer he’d been on the on the
17:19
force for I forgot nine ten months and
17:22
we have a record of every traffic stop
17:24
he ever made and when you look at his
17:26
list of traffic stops you reason you
17:28
realized that what happened that day
17:30
with Sandra bland was not an anomaly
17:33
that he’s one of those guys who pulls
17:35
over everyone for [ __ ] reasons mmm
17:38
all day long so I think I’ve forgotten
17:40
exact number but in the hour before he
17:43
pulled over Sandra bland he pulled over
17:45
for people for other people for equally
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ridiculous reasons he’s that cop no and
17:51
he’s that cop because he’s been trained
17:53
that way right that’s a kind of quotas
17:55
strange strain of modern policing which
17:57
says go beyond the ticket pull someone
17:59
over if you if anything looks a little
18:01
bit weird because you might find
18:02
something else now if you look at his
18:04
history as a cop he almost never found
18:06
anything else his history is a cop in
18:09
fact I went through this I forget how
18:11
many hundreds of traffic stops he had in
18:13
nine months if you go through them
18:15
he has like once he found some marijuana
18:17
on a kid and by the way the town in
18:19
which he was working as a college town
18:21
so I mean how hard is that I think he
18:24
found a gun once misdemeanor gun but
18:28
everything else was like pulling over
18:30
people for you know the the light above
18:33
their license plate was out got that’s
18:37
the level of stuff he was using he did
18:39
this all day long every day
18:43
so he’s like to him it’s second nature
18:46
yeah pull her over like who knows what’s
18:49
going on she’s out of state she’s young
18:51
black woman was this comparable to the
18:53
way the rest of the cops on the force
18:54
and his division did it well I looked at
18:57
I didn’t look at the rest of the cops on
18:59
his voice what I looked at were state
19:02
numbers to the wherever they’re several
19:05
American states give us like North
19:07
Carolina for example will give us
19:10
precise complete statistics on the
19:16
number of traffic stops done by their
19:18
police officers and the reasons for
19:20
those stops so when you look at that so
19:22
I have the I look at the North Carolina
19:24
numbers for example in the North
19:25
Carolina Highway Patrol it’s the same
19:27
thing they’re pulling over unbelievable
19:29
numbers of people and finding nothing
19:31
like night you know one percent less
19:34
than one percent hit rates in some cases
19:36
of being hit rate being finding
19:38
something of interest
19:39
so like they’re pulling over ninety nine
19:41
people for no reason in order to find
19:43
one person who’s got you know a bag of
19:46
dope or something in the car
19:48
you cannot conduct policing in in a
19:53
civil society like that and expect to
19:55
have decent relationships between law
19:57
enforcement
19:58
in the civilian population yeah no
20:00
question but doesn’t that sort of
20:02
support the idea that he’s full of [ __ ]
20:03
that he was really concerned that she
20:05
had something he’d never encountered
20:07
anything well or or this was the one the
20:11
fantasy in his head is so what so the
20:13
questions why does he keep doing it if
20:14
this is a guy who day in day out pulls
20:16
over people for no reason and finds
20:18
nothing and continues to do it
20:20
now there’s two explanations one is he’s
20:22
totally cynical and thinks this is the
20:24
way to be an effective police officer X
20:26
mission number two is this is a guy who
20:28
has a powerful fantasy in his head that
20:30
one day I’m gonna hit the jackpot and
20:33
I’m gonna open the trunk and is going to
20:34
be 15 pounds of heroin and I’m gonna be
20:37
the biggest star who ever lived I think
20:39
there’s also a rush of just being able
20:41
to get people to pull over this the the
20:44
compliance thing which is another reason
20:46
why he was so furious that what she
20:47
wasn’t listening to him yeah and she
20:48
kept a cigarette lit yeah or she was
20:51
listening but not complying yes yeah um
20:53
what are the laws I mean are you allowed
20:56
to smoke a cigarette in your car when a
20:57
cop pulls you over how does it work like
21:00
that
21:00
yeah I mean of course yeah they can’t
21:03
stop you from engaging they can’t tell
21:05
you to put out your cigarette there’s no
21:07
law no he could have said I mean no
21:10
there’s no law I mean the car though two
21:13
things the courts historically give
21:16
enormous leeway to the police officers
21:19
in a traffic stop as opposed to a
21:21
person-to-person stop but uh but no I I
21:24
mean right this is about what he should
21:26
have said is he could have said ma’am do
21:31
you mind I would prefer if you put out
21:35
the cigarette while we’re talking or I’m
21:37
allergic to smoke or whatever I mean
21:39
he’s a million ways to him to do it
21:40
nicely
21:40
yeah but he’s he’s a jackass about yeah
21:42
but I mean he’s basically doing the job
21:46
like a jackass he’s doing a jackass
21:48
version of being a cop well so this is
21:50
so this is one of a really really
21:53
crucial point in the argument of the
21:54
book which is I think the real lesson of
21:58
that case is not that he’s a bad cop
22:00
he’s in fact doing precisely as he is
22:02
was in trained and instructed to do he’s
22:05
a he’s the ideal cop and the problem is
22:10
with the particular philosophy of
22:12
law enforcement that has emerged over
22:14
the last ten years in this country which
22:16
has incentivized and encouraged police
22:20
officers to engage in these incredibly
22:23
low reward activities like pulling over
22:26
a hundred people or defying one person
22:28
who’s done something wrong that has
22:29
become enshrined in the strategy of many
22:32
police forces around the country they
22:34
tell them to do this I have a whole
22:37
section of book right go through in
22:38
detail one of the most important police
22:41
training manuals which is you know
22:45
required reading for somebody coming up
22:47
and which they just walk you through
22:48
this like it is your job to pull over
22:51
lots and lots and lots and lots of
22:53
people even if you only find something
22:55
in a small percentage of cases why
22:57
that’s what being a proactive police
22:58
officer is all about right so they are
23:01
trained that that phrase go beyond the
23:03
ticket is a is a term of art in police
23:07
training like you got to be thinking you
23:09
sure you pulled him over for having a
23:11
taillight that’s out
23:12
but you’re look you’re thinking beyond
23:14
that is there something else in the car
23:16
that’s problematic that’s to try to find
23:18
so there he was being a dutiful police
23:22
officer and the the answer is to
23:24
re-examine our philosophies of law
23:27
enforcement not know I mean you can’t
23:30
dismiss this thing by saying oh that’s
23:32
just a particularly bad cop not great
23:34
but I don’t know if he’s any worse than
23:36
you know he’s just doing what he was
23:38
trained to do that’s the issue
23:40
he should be trained to do something
23:41
different right that is the issue right
23:42
the issue is there this is standard
23:45
practice a treat citizens that are doing
23:48
nothing wrong as if they’re criminals
23:50
yeah and pull them over and give them
23:52
extreme paranoia and freak them out yeah
23:55
I hope you find something I was home I’m
23:58
Canadian and I was home in Canada
24:00
small-town Canada couple weeks ago and I
24:04
saw in the pack you know how these cars
24:06
always have there’s often that our
24:08
slogan on the side of the car the back
24:09
of the commune so in my little hometown
24:11
in southwestern Ontario sleepy you know
24:14
farm country the slogan on the back of
24:17
the police cars is people helping people
24:20
so Canadian like the X know understand
24:25
this
24:26
country with very low levels of gun
24:29
ownership which means that a police
24:30
officer does not enter into an encounter
24:32
with a civilian with the same degree of
24:34
fear or paranoia that the civilian has a
24:37
handgun right which is a big part of
24:39
this regardless of how one feels about
24:42
gun laws in this country the fact that
24:44
there are lots of guns mean makes the
24:46
job of a police officer a lot harder and
24:48
every police officer will tell you that
24:49
in Canada they don’t have that fear but
24:51
it’s also Canada and its small town
24:53
Canada and so when you encounter a
24:55
police officer in my little town he’s
24:57
like he’s people helping people he’s
24:59
like he’s like driving like a Camry and
25:02
he’s you know he’s like this genial
25:04
person who was a really camera amis I
25:06
forgotten exactly what the driver was
25:08
not like they’re not driving scars yeah
25:11
explorers painted black with like big
25:14
bull bars at the front right and then
25:17
you go you know I was you go I mean even
25:20
in LA I hate you know I like that
25:22
cars are painted black and white so they
25:25
look ferocious I mean the whole thing
25:27
that was it is still look ferocious do I
25:30
just look they identify as police to
25:32
connait to a Canadian looks to me it
25:35
looks a little why do they have to paint
25:37
them black forgets nothing Oakland
25:39
Raiders I mean it’s like what do you
25:41
think they should paint them something
25:43
mild and like bright yellow something
25:45
lovely something lovely like a nice can
25:48
you imagine a like a teal or a
25:50
lime-green well that would be yeah
25:52
because there’s a lot of black cars a
25:54
lot of white cars a lot of teal cars
25:55
it’s good so it would yeah it would
25:57
stand out like oh it’s cop this paint
26:00
car but you know this kind of symbolism
26:03
right matters right right you wanna see
26:06
an image sheriff joe arpaio who makes
26:08
all those prisoners wear pink yeah yeah
26:11
that’s kind of thing but I mean to
26:14
against his point though how many women
26:16
shoot cops
26:18
isn’t that an insanely low number yeah I
26:21
mean insanely low I mean what are the
26:24
numbers I mean it’s probably almost
26:26
non-existent
26:27
yeah well guys pull over women I don’t
26:29
think they’re worried about being shot I
26:30
really don’t I think it’s horseshit I
26:33
think it’s all after the fact yeah he
26:35
was trying to concoct some sort of an
26:36
excuse I was gonna excuse for
26:38
is he still in the force I know he was
26:41
either he’s kicked off for I forgotten
26:46
the precise language they used but for
26:48
basically being impolite to a civilian
26:52
but um yeah I don’t think there’s a lot
26:54
of but I don’t know whether I mean I I
26:57
still think we’re saying the same thing
26:59
which is the thing that’s driving him
27:02
his motivation is not rational right and
27:05
if you were a rational actor you would
27:07
never engage in an activity where 99.9%
27:10
of your police stops resulted in nothing
27:13
right
27:14
yeah he’s he is off in some weird kind
27:17
of fantasy land for a reason which is
27:20
that’s what in certain jurisdictions in
27:23
this country that’s what law enforcement
27:24
has come to look at Brooke like yeah
27:26
that’s that’s problematic it’s a huge
27:28
problem
27:34
[Applause]

A Christian Vision of Social Justice

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 progressrealist 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 loveneither 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.

Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar on the art of skewering everyday racism

“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.

This Putsch Was Decades in the Making

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.