Slate published a piece yesterday which I think sums up a strain of progressive thinking in the wake of the Chauvin verdict: It’s good he’s going to prison but it’s bad this may lead people to believe the system works. The piece is headlined “Why Conservative Media Is Celebrating the Chauvin Verdict” and it focuses on the hidden bad intent behind people on the right agreeing with people on the left.
Blue Lives Matter devotees have long acknowledged the so-called bad apples scattered among U.S. police departments. Chauvin the murderer, in this view, is the exception that proves the rule. His conviction isn’t the very least Floyd’s community should expect after a neighbor was murdered, by a government employee, with their tax dollars. It’s proof that the system as it exists is not broken at all, that those advocating for systemic change are ginning up support for a radical agenda by manufacturing outrage over nothing, and that when something truly bad happens—like the murder of George Floyd—justice is served.
Well, in this case something truly bad happened and justice was served. So that does tend to support the idea that can happen. But to author Christina Cauterucci, every sign of agreement is just more proof something is wrong:
Last summer, as Floyd’s murder prompted weeks of protests and violent police crackdowns on demonstrators, I interviewed several current and former police officers from all over the country about Floyd’s murder. Not only did every single one of them tell me that Chauvin was clearly in the wrong, but they also said they didn’t know any cops who’d defend him. “I do think Chauvin should be charged with murder, and everyone I’ve talked to agrees,” said Maurice Henry, a patrol officer in Kansas…
Jacob, a cop in Georgia, said there was simply no way to justify what Chauvin did. “That’s how extreme the situation was with Floyd, between the fact that it was all recorded, to the total lack of humanity of the officers involved, to the eight to nine minutes of watching someone die, where you really can’t say anything in defense,” he said. “And traditionally, as cops, we are defensive. But in this situation, everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, that was jacked up for sure.’ ”
Why, it’s almost as if police are reasonable people willing to look at the circumstances before reaching a conclusion. The absolute bastards! And of course the worst of it is the talking heads on Fox News. How dare they consistently condemn Chauvin’s behavior from day one:
Sean Hannity, who was critical of Chauvin when the video of the murder was first released, spent his time on the air on Tuesday complaining that the few bad apples get all the attention.
I guess I have to give her credit for pointing out that Hannity was immediately critical of Chauvin last year. At least she didn’t leave that out. Then again maybe she actually thinks this helps her case.
Hannity spent more than 15 minutes on his Fox show Wednesday replaying video of a Minneapolis officer who knelt on the neck of the 46-year-old Floyd, who had been taken into custody on suspicion of passing a counterfeit bill.
“The tape, to me, is devastating,” Hannity said on his radio show Thursday. “I watch it, I get angrier every time.”
So Hannity had this reaction early on but Cauterucci is angry because, “This narrative creates space for people who were horrified by Floyd’s murder but feel uncomfortable with ‘defund the police’ rhetoric to move on with the satisfaction that justice was served, case closed.”
I don’t want to ruin her day but only a tiny fraction of the populace is conformable with “defund the police” rhetoric, about 18% according to this recent poll. The same poll found that just 28% of black Americans were in favor of it. So we really don’t need a special “narrative” to create space for a rejection of “defund the police” when the overwhelming majority of Americans have already said ‘thanks but no thanks.’
What mostly comes through in this piece is that Christina Cauterucci really hates the idea the system worked in this case. She closes with this extraordinary bit of nonsense: “It’s hard to single out Floyd’s murder as uniquely heinous, and Chauvin’s conviction as uniquely deserved, without implying that all the other police killings are less heinous, and all the other killers less deserving of punishment. Maybe that’s a sad inevitability, or maybe that’s the point.”
Other police killings may appear less heinous because, wait for it, they are less heinous. In fact, most aren’t heinous at all, they are justified under the circumstances because in most cases the person shot was wielding a weapon at police or others. But the chef’s kiss of this piece is that last phrase “maybe that’s the point.” She’s inviting readers to buy into some sort of half-baked conspiracy theory about a right wing plot to convince people the justice system works. Wow, you’re really onto us there. We’re out to prove the system works by having it work. It’s a dastardly plot we’ve concocted in a star chamber in the basement of the Supreme Court. But now you’ve single-handedly blown the lid off of it.
I get that there’s a big market on the left for this kind of flaming garbage, especially now, but even Slate should be embarrassed by it. There’s a much simpler explanation for why many cops and conservatives reacted the way they did in this case: They’re human beings.
Update: Here’s AOC saying basically the same thing as Slate’s Cauterucci: “I also don’t want this moment to be framed as this system working, because it’s not working.”
AOC: “This verdict is not justice. Frankly, I don’t even think we call it full accountability”
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) April 20, 2021