You may have heard of the growing epidemic of white people killing defenseless black people. Neither have I, but a case of a white man killing a black teenager has The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coats foaming at the keyboard, so to speak. We all know about George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, and that even though Zimmerman is not white, liberal commentators fit the death of Martin into a handy black/white racism paradigm. The most recent news of a white man killing a black teenager comes from Florida as well. You can read the details here.
After reading Coats’ piece I was rather stunned but not surprised. The underlying rage and seething is palpable in every sentence. It’s a short piece but packed with indignation. Consier his final two paragraphs:
Spare us the invocations of “black-on-black crime.” I will not respect the lie. I would rather be thought insane. The most mendacious phrase in the American language is “black-on-black crime,” which is uttered as though the same hands that drew red lines around the ghettoes of Chicago are not the same hands that drew red lines around the life of Jordan Davis, as though black people authored North Lawndale and policy does not exist. That which mandates the murder of our Hadiya Pendletons necessarily mandates the murder of Jordan Davis. I will not respect any difference. I will not respect the lie. I would rather be thought crazy.
I insist that the irrelevance of black life has been drilled into this country since its infancy, and shall not be extricated through the latest innovations in Negro Finishing School. I insist that racism is our heritage, that Thomas Jefferson’s genius is no more important than his plundering of the body of Sally Hemmings, that George Washington’s abdication is no more significant than his wild pursuit of Oney Judge. I insist that the G.I Bill’s accolades are inseparable from its racist heritage. I will not respect the lie. I insist that racism must be properly understood as an Intelligence, as a sentience, as a default setting to which, likely until the end of our days, we unerringly return.
So let me get this straight. Even though far more black people commit crimes against black people–far, far more–than white people commit, it is a lie and in fact evil to reject the notion that racism causes black-on-black crime. Did I get that right? I’m not sure exactly where the mendacity lies in rejecting Coats’ paranoid thesis that racism is a tangible, metaphysical force which apparently is present only in white people and is part of America’s ontological makeup and cannot be escaped by either the pale-skinned perpetrators or the dark skinned victims.
You reject Coats’ view of things, and you are a liar. You have the temerity to say that people bear responsibility for their choices regardless of the larger societal forces that influence all of us to one degree or another, and you are a liar. You challenge his contention that racism is the very essence of the American experiment and an inescapable reality that affects every interaction we have, and you are a liar. What a horrible world to live in, and one that is strictly a figment of Coats’ imagination and deep-seeded resentments.