Facts are evil.
Nothing is as malicious and divisive to white people as when Black people start talking about actual reality. Because of the bulletproof nature of white privilege, they aren’t necessarily hurt by factual information. However, some white people feel attacked when a Black person brings up actual data or historical information.
If someone else were writing this mailbag, this paragraph would explain why facts are important. But I’m writing this, so the next few sentences will give my perspective on why I feel facts are necessary:
I’m a dick.
I like to make white people mad.
Now, that I cleared that up, let’s get to the clapback part.
From my Twitter DMs on the article about Trump’s MAGA mob:
From: Chris P.
To: Michael Harriot
This article is exactly why we are divided as a country. I agree with some of your points but you are just enflaming tensions. If you keep antagonizing Trump people you just push them to the other side instead of teaching them and trying to solve the problem.
To: Michael Harriot
Now is not the time to beat the pulp out of white people michael. You will loose a lot of people if you push to hard.
You wonder how did the country get worse? Because most people stopped knowing what to do or what to say. Decades ago. So they gave up.
I am telling you...we are going to get there again.
Anything a white person says is wrong. People are being told to shut the fuck up...even when they are on your side.
Being called a cracka.
If you were training a dog...you would have to throw that dog a bone for good behavior.
We have gotten this far...it is fragile because all it takes is the trolls to trash it and our lives are over.
Dear Jakki and Chris:
It isn’t very often that people totally get what I am trying to do. I want to “loose a lot of people” and “push them to the other side.” Why the fuck would I want those people on my side?
Of course, you, being white, believe these people have value. But I’m not one of those “all lives matter” people. And Chris, you make a good argument. Coming to some kind of agreement gives me the chance to teach them the correct answer while allowing them an opportunity to learn. But, if I believed that two plus two equals four and someone else thinks two plus two equals five, why should I want to make nice with someone who is unquestionably wrong?
Let’s say I was a math teacher. And, just for the sake of argument, imagine if Mayonnaisians Against Good Answers, Science, Arithmetic, Proofs, Integers, Equations and Numerical Solutions (MAGASAPIENS) organized an effort to rewrite textbooks and change the laws of mathematics.
As a math teacher, I would try to stop them. Suppose a group of math educators wanted me to become the president of the Brotherhood of Logic, Arithmetic, Counting, Knowledge, Probabilities, Equations and Other Of Provable, Legitimate Evidence (BLACKPEOPLE), based solely on my argument that 2+2=4.
Now, imagine all the teachers agreed with me and put it on the math test taken by 159 million people. And, on this math test, suppose that most people answered the elementary arithmetic problem correctly, but the anti-mathers wanted their answer to be marked right and everyone else’s wrong. Suppose the MAGASAPIENS pleaded their case to some kind of Supreme Math Court that laughed them out of the building. But, after being shunned by every legitimate mathematician in the world, they came up with a compromise:
Kill the BLACKPEOPLE.
Why would I want to unite with them?
Meeting the MAGASAPIENS in the middle and agreeing that 2+2=4.5, isn’t a solution. The only ethically correct option is to tell them that they are wrong. And not only would I have to tell the MAGASAPIENS, but I’d also have to let the world know they were wrong, too. In fact, any compromise whatsoever means that I’d be making the choice to be just as wrong.
But there’s one thing that’s wrong with this analogy.
I am not a math teacher.
I’m one of the people whose votes they tried to get tossed out. I’m one of the people who they rallied against. They actually tried to kill people for being right.
I noticed this criticism in the comment section:
Fuck this dude six ways until Sunday, but you are better than this, Harriot.
“Gough also pleaded for Bryan’s release on account of his high blood pressure, noting that his client’s blood pressure hadn’t been checked in 10 days, just like most human beings on the planet who haven’t participated in an on-camera execution.”
Nonincarcerated people can check their blood pressure whenever they want. If the State wants to lock someone up and disabuse them of that ability then the State needs to provide adequate medical care to anyone in their custody. They don’t need to release him, but they do need to take care of him. And we need them to do that too since we are the taxpayers funding it — giving us all culpability. Is a prison rape joke next?
You using his crimes as a reason to dehumanize him is no different that the racist flyers conservative politicians have employed for decades and that are regularly and easily condemned.
I could write a long-winded explanation on why this man is innocent until proven guilty and why everyone deserves some sense of humanity. But then, I watched how steady William “Roddie” Bryan held the camera as his fellow lynch mobsters killed Ahmaud Arbery and thought:
“Fuck that dude and let him die.”
I am not “better than this.”
Sorry to disappoint you.
This woman asked a good question about our coverage of the Coup Klux Klan.
From: Shelly H.
To: Michael Harriot
How do you reconcile prison abolition with you calling for these people to be arrested? I know people who are Trump supporters who were at the event (don’t know if they went in the capital) but how you can be for criminal justice reform and mass incarceration.
It’s a paradox, isn’t it?
Your answer can be found in a history book:
During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln established a policy that all captured soldiers would be treated as prisoners of war. This was important because Confederate soldiers were technically guilty of treason, which meant they could be summarily executed. But Lincoln agreed not to do it in his 1863 official Order of Retaliation. In exchange, the Confederate states agreed to treat Black soldiers—even runaway slaves who joined the Union—as prisoners of war.
On April 12, 1864, the Confederate Army surrounded Fort Pillow, in Henning, Tennessee. After a brief melee, the Union forces realized there was no way they could win. When the Union soldiers fled, the Confederates took the surviving Northern soldiers as prisoners to be exchanged for Confederate troops.
They slaughtered the 300 Black soldiers.
The nation was furious at the egregious war crime. Lincoln ordered an investigation but, of course, he was killed. Andrew Johnson eventually granted pardons of all Confederate soldiers, specifically to promote unity and reconciliation. He even doubled back and issued pardons for ex-Confederates who committed war crimes, including the Battle of Fort Pillow.
Perhaps the longest sustained period of racial terrorism in American history began when Andrew Johnson issued a pardon to his Tennessee homeboy, Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate commander at Fort Pillow and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
These aggrieved Confederates would be the ones who orchestrated the 12-year-period of violence known as Reconstruction. That violence necessitated the Compromise of 1877, which ushered in Jim Crow and the lynching era. Jim Crow ushered in the civil rights era and more murders.
Forrest and his fellow Confederates should have been executed.
His death and the death of Confederate traitors wouldn’t have eliminated the anger of white people. But it would have meant that those domestic terrorists would know that there was a consequence for their actions. It would have unquestionably saved lives. We will never know how many. That is justice.
But here is the thing:
Lincoln, Johnson and most of America were not looking to bring the country together. They did not pardon the traitors in a search for unity or peace. They issued those 12,652 pardons because those treasonous racists were worth more than the 3,953,760 million enslaved people freed by the end of the Civil War.
Kill the guilty...
So that the innocent may live in peace.
Shelly, the answer to your question is simple:
Because Black Lives Matter.