The central issue arising from the Washington Navy Yard shooting is, to my way of thinking (and Ann Coulter’s) the way we treat severe mental illness as a Civil Right. I say some words about that in this week’s broadcast.
Then I explore some of the peripheral sociology, in particular the ways in which the shooting illustrates Black Privilege. I play the soundtrack of a Fox News clip from the day of the shooting.
You need to know that the interviewer is a black guy, and he's interviewing two witnesses, a white woman and a black man. Here we go.
Black interviewer: Could you describe the guy? What was he dressed like?
White female witness: He was tall. He appeared to be dark-skinned. He did not have, um, I don't think he had a hat on. We were looking but, ah, he was down the hall far enough that we couldn't see a face, but we saw him hold the rifle then we saw him raise it and aim it in our direction.
Black interviewer: He appeared to be a black person?
Black male witness: A tall black guy, yeah.
Black interviewer: He was a tall black guy.
Black male witness: Tall black guy, yes.
Black interviewer: And did he say anything?
Black male witness: He didn't say a word, didn't say a word.
Black interviewer: You just looked at him? . . .
Just listen to the social dynamic there! Standing next to a black guy, being asked questions by another black guy, the white woman goes into race cringe mode. The shooter “appeared to be dark-skinned.” He wasn't wearing a hat.
It's like watching a subatomic particle approaching another one of the same charge. The repulsive force gets stronger as the moving particle gets closer. It gets to within a certain distance—He appeared to be dark-skinned—then the repulsion is too strong and the particle bounces off the force field and flies away in a random direction: He wasn't wearing a hat. Why should he have been wearing a hat? Hardly anybody does.
The black witness, though, has black privilege—the privilege to speak frankly and honestly: A tall black guy, yeah. The black interviewer likewise: He was a tall black guy.
It's a captivating little snippet, like something out of a Tom Wolfe novel. You could use it as a classroom illustration to teach a group of visiting space aliens about racial etiquette in early 21st-century America.
You know what I mean by space aliens, right? Those critters that . . . appear to be green-skinned.
Listen to the whole broadcast at Taki’s Magazine. It includes a brief tribute to singer-songwriter Jim Croce, who died forty years ago Friday. Here’s another one, which came to mind—I can’t imagine why—as I was reading Steve’s posts about Smith College.