Tyre Nichols: The bigotry of the 'anti-racists'

Date Written:  2023-02-01
Publisher:  Spiked
Year Published:  2023
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX24815

Those blaming his death on white supremacy seem to think black cops are just mindless thugs.



When confronted by people perplexed by the claim that black cops killing black people is an expression of white supremacy, these commentators simply say we're not thinking hard enough. "Not only is this a simplistic and illogical argument", says one commentator in the Independent, chiding those who would dare to bring up the Memphis cops' skin colour, "but it's one meant to distract us from our fight". "I'm about to educate some people right now', said Britain's Shola Mos-Shogbamimu on Sky News the other day, before rattling off something utterly nonsensical. "There will be people watching right now going, 'first of all, because they're black police officers it means it's not racist'. No, it means that you’ve not educated yourself on how, systemically, white supremacy works."

Statements like this seem to gesture to some higher wisdom. Just because you can't see the racism in any given situation doesn't mean it isn't there, we're told. Words like 'systemic' and 'structural' make the analysis sound sophisticated, almost scientific. In truth, it relies on a mix of mind-reading and blind faith. In the case of Tyre Nichols' alleged killers, it means assuming that these black men bear the mark of 'internalised racism'. That they are the simpleminded foot soldiers of racist whites. "It is shockingly easy", writes that Independent columnist, "to train people to hate their own, to detain their own unlawfully, to abuse them, and end their lives".

"Shockingly easy." Just think about that for a minute. So desperate are these commentators to burnish their narrative of widespread racism, they are rehabilitating some profoundly dodgy tropes. Such as that black people - black cops, in this instance - are unintelligent, visceral and therefore easily manipulated by white supremacists. That they lack agency and responsibility for their actions. In this bleak, identitarian vision, black people are reduced either to the pitiable victims of white supremacy or its idiotic henchmen. Meanwhile, the far simpler explanation here - that the Nichols case has nothing to do with race or racism - isn’t entertained even for a moment.

This ghoulish tendency to exploit every slain black man to make a political point, to strike poses against white supremacy, even when his death had nothing to do with racism, is repugnant. But it keeps on happening.

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