Allow me to express my displeasure bordering on nausea over the predictably gutless way in which Conservative Inc. and its most prominent representatives have responded to the riots in American cities. Although our authorized conservatives have indicated that vandalism, mayhem, and killing should not be tolerated on our streets, and although they generally accept President Trump’s call for bringing in the military to quell the unrest, these media hounds just can’t resist the temptation to play Goody Two-shoes.
The establishment right has been flooding us nonstop with expressions of remorse over the killing of George Floyd. They have also gushed with praise for nonviolent protesters against what we are made to believe is an outrage that should sear the national conscience. Apparently, Floyd’s killing should weigh down on us as a catastrophe rooted in white sinfulness. Nikki Haley, Marco Rubio, and Heritage president Kay Coles James are just a few of our conservative people’s heroes (to use the old Soviet term) who have been conspicuously bewailing our disease of white racism.
Tucker Carlson cited on his program particularly unsettling remarks by Haley responding to Floyd’s killing. According to Haley, this death was “personal and painful,” and she wants us to know she is still wrestling with its meaning. Our former UN Ambassador also expects Floyd’s fate to be “painful and personal for everyone.” Carlson asked with some justification by what right does Haley command us to treat Floyd’s death as personal and painful.
What, after all, was our individual blame in bringing it about? Is Haley trying to introduce the leftist concept of “systemic guilt” into the conversation? The Heritage president came close to expressing this concept in her entry in the virtue-signaling competition. According to James: “Racism in America is a fatal wound. Every time another incident occurs, we put a Band-Aid on it, but the Band-Aids keep falling off.”
Getting out and protesting “peacefully,” whatever that now means, is something that our media conservatives want us to applaud and indeed encourage. Last night Marc Thiessen of the American Enterprise Institute was complaining on Fox News that the rioters in Washington had prevented his daughter from moving around on local streets to protest police brutality. Never would I guess from hearing our conservative virtue signalers that black crime represents a stark danger in urban areas.
Moreover, protest groups like Black Lives Matter refuse to come to terms with the responsibility of the black urban community for their problem of violence. Senator Rubio notes the “unaddressed injustice” of white racism behind Floyd’s death. What about the even more critical problem of black crime? Allowing for the sharply differential crime rates of the two groups, cops do not target black males disproportionately relative to white ones. Young black males are far more likely to commit violent crimes; and their victims are overwhelmingly other blacks.
A retired black policeman was killed in St. Louis while guarding his friend’s store, and other policemen, presumably some of them of color, have suffered grave wounds at the hands of protesters. Is Thiessen’s daughter planning to protest these acts as well, that is, the ones committed against those who are not poster boys for BLM? I doubt it.
Where, by the way, were the mass protests when a Somali policeman Mohamed Noor shot a white woman, Justine Damond, in Minneapolis in July 2017? From all accounts this Australian resident of Minneapolis was shot while dialing 911 to summon the police in a possible rape case near her home. A policeman did come along and shot the lady who dialed for help. The hiring of the Somali was supposed to “foreshadow” progressive reform of the police department, which has been laboring to hire more minorities.
Should we view this killing, according to Nikki Haley, who may in a few years’ time be a “conservative” candidate for president, as an incident that should cause us deserved pain, as residents of a racist country. Perhaps white lives just do not matter if one is seeking to promote oneself as a “conservative” celebrity? What about black policemen who are murdered by rioters? Don’t they count as much as blacks killed by white policemen?
Since I have an anthology in press that documents this obsequious behavior from official conservatives toward the establishment left, perhaps my comments here are unnecessary. My friend Tom Piatak has more than adequately covered this theme for our website. But every now and then the degree of obsequiousness toward the left that comes from Con Inc. evokes a response from me, usually one of disgust; and when it comes, it flows quite effortlessly.
[Image of Paul Gottfried in Washtingon, D.C., by Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA/Wikimedia Commons]
Paul Gottfried is editor in chief of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is also the Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for 25 years, a Guggenheim recipient, and a Yale Ph.D. He is the author of 13 books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents.