The question, I suppose, is this. At what point should the penny have dropped for the Jews of Europe? When should they have started shooting the authorities at the door rather than come along peacefully? It’s easy to say in retrospect, but retrospection wasn’t widely available until about the time of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
There’s a question similar in kind – albeit clearly not in degree – for black men in America. And in the wake of the George Floyd killing, it’s been asked and answered by the shooting of white cops. As of last night, the count was six.
Are these the opening salvos of a race war? Clearly not. But these shootings do put white police officers on notice. They’re on notice that, what’s written on the cruiser’s bumper notwithstanding, for some of the people they’re “the enemy of the people”. Which people? Black people. Which black people? Easy to say in retrospect, but retrospection isn’t available at the moment a black man is approaching the police car. The cop’s guard goes up. Another unarmed black man goes down.
The so-called left – Democrats, CNN, MSNBC, and so on – sympathize, and rightly so, with the unarmed black man. The so-called right – Republicans, Fox, and so on – sympathize, and rightly so, with the cop. The balance between these sympathies will have some effect on the results in November. But those results can have no effect on this dynamic. That’s because what Hobbes called ‘diffidence’ – our fear of the other’s fear – is built into us. And for good evolutionary reasons.
Biden’s solution is community policing. Police should be members of the particular neighborhood they serve. But that doesn’t help when a black man goes jogging down a white street. Well then, don’t. But that just reinforces segregation. Hence America’s national prayer: the Serenity Prayer.
Not Canada’s. Were I an orthodox Jew, my first prayer in the morning is supposed to be, “Thank God I was not born a woman.” I’m not orthodox. Mine is, “Thank God I was not born an American.”