On Blackface and Accusations

A couple of events in the last week which, in Black History Month, it might be reasonable to expect me to comment on.

  1. Blackface is anchored to an entire network of insult. It is possible to explain its use under the categories “ignorance” and “obliviousness” but also “callousness” and “bigotry.” I wouldn’t automatically condemn someone who did it, especially in the past, but would listen very carefully to their explanations and attitudes. A clear statement of “oops? God I was stupid” and a crystal clear condemnation of the entire social structure that supported it? I’d probably just shake my head and move on. But…I would be listening carefully for justifications. In other words, there are reasons, but not excuses.
  2. I am disturbed by an accusation of assault when the only witness refuses to let us check the facts. If you say you were on the phone at the time, LET US SEE THE PHONE RECORDS. If the event was real, we need to know, and as the situation has been politicized, it is totally reasonable for those implicated by association to doubt absent proof. Have proof? Put it on the table. And…if I’m not mistaken, felony accusations are false somewhere between 5%-10% of the time. If the accusations are true, WE NEED TO KNOW. If they are true, and we are not convinced, that emboldens the aggressors. If the accusations are false, WE NEED TO KNOW, because if we DO have a wave of assaults, any false accusation becomes a “boy who cried wolf” scenario, endangering innocent people as well as driving wedges.

No matter what happened, true or false, this is dangerous. And no, I don’t automatically believe alleged victims: I believe that a citizen’s testimony deserves to be carefully investigated, neither discounted nor automatically accepted. Either extreme is a dangerous, knee-jerk responses.

I already see people fearing disaster if the accusations turn out to be false. That will only be true if they are widely believed. Otherwise, it isn’t about gays, or blacks, or SJWs or whatever — it would be about one person’s false testimony.

And if the accusations are true? And the evidence thereof is being concealed? That’s even worse. Demons breed in the dark. If people don’t stand up and clearly present their reasons for a position, those demons can strike again, and yet again, knowing that if they choose their victims carefully, they will never be taken seriously until its too late.

There is truth here. And we deserve to know PRECISELY what it is. And right now? We don’t.


Steven Barnes


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