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Post More on the George Floyd Killing: "Spectral Evidence" (from Gary Moore)
Created by John Eipper on 09/09/20 5:11 AM

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More on the George Floyd Killing: "Spectral Evidence" (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA, 09/09/20 5:11 am)

Gary Moore writes:

"Spectral evidence" supposedly went obsolete with the Salem witch trials. If a Salem witness in 1692 had imagined or dreamed that "Goody Proctor bit, pinched, and almost choked me," that was good enough, even if materially it never happened. Unfortunately, the enraged smugness of witch hunters, welcoming imagination as evidence if it fits the thrill of accusation, seems to be a constant in human history.

When John E took my challenge and viewed the police body camera footage on the George Floyd case, he heard nothing at all in the interval where prosecutors are saying that a police defendant made a damning comment. However, a real comment is there, briefly muttered. It was not the comment that the prosecutors project in imagination, but it does exist. It's important to pinpoint this nugget and give the imaginers their due, in order not to drown discussion in squabbling counter-imaginings. They weren't so illegitimate as to be completely hallucinating, but they were so illegitimate as to announce as fact what was only their smug expectation or desire.

In reality, the key phrase "tie him" is uttered twice, at points five seconds apart. This was magically converted by prosecutors into "hogtie him," so that a large (but spectral) issue could be made of Officer Tou Thao's supposed violation of a police department hogtie prohibition.

Very many such sleights of hand in the George Floyd case reveal it incontrovertibly to be a witch hunt of frightening proportions, indeed national or international proportions. By now this witch hunt, or accusation frenzy, has solidified so formidably around the initial shocking image that engendered it (viral cellphone video of Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck, as if for no reason, and seeming surely to choke off all his air) that the thrill of accusation is virtually unassailable. Any attempt to point out buried or distorted facts need not even be crushed, but can simply be ignored, as a pathetic and psychologically twisted contradiction of what everybody knows.

Materially, the "hogtie" part of this, compared to fatal enormities, is tiny. But conceptually, as a clearly visible indicator of the witch-hunt mindset that by this point has captured public discussion, it is large. Those most deeply invested in the ephemerally satisfying rage of accusation may only be further enraged (or condescendingly dismissive) if such banished facts are examined, but others may begin to question an alien sense of uncertainty that creeps in from forbidden mists. It took fourteen years for Salem accuser Ann Putnam to come out publicly and recant her witchcraft allegations, and even then she only shifted the delusion. "It was a great delusion of Satan that deceived me in that sad time," she apologized, long after the twenty victims of the witch hunt were dead.

The bodycamera footage of Officer Tou Thau is at:


Below are graphics as an enhanced guide to finding the alleged "hogtie" statements:

John also asked about the bystander who became the chief heckler of the police restraining Floyd, a voice lionized by viewers of the initial cellphone video as an attempted savior of Floyd. In fact, Floyd seems to have been having a heart attack in a drug overdose (the amount of Fentanyl in his system has been fatal for some, and it was speedballed with other drugs); the police had called early on for an ambulance, which delayed as they were left restraining a mysteriously flailing subject--though not choking him.

The real issue was not whether they killed Floyd (they didn't) but whether, during the ambulance delay, they should have changed positions and perhaps tried CPR themselves. The facts, elaborately and persuasively laid out in an autopsy, suggest that any such action would likely have had little effect, and the onlookers' demands that they get up were predicated on the illusion of choking. Still, hindsight says they should have tried.

The press made much of a supposedly dissenting autopsy that was ordered by activist lawyers for Floyd's family, but time has now shown that that supposed autopsy never emerged, as its planned author, one of the nation's most notorious forensic rubber stampers (as in O.J. Simpson) made announcements and then never proved them. The same lawyers announced that they had a courageous young witness they would present on a given date, and this may have been the chief heckler among the bystanders. But apparently that presentation, too, never occurred, then was quietly forgotten by the press.

John is curious about who that onlooker is; so am I. Still more interesting is why it's so hard to find out. The atmosphere of sanctimonious mystery surrounding what has become a public myth is such that the 17-year-old maker of the cellphone video, high school junior Darnella Frazier, now funnels her comments, too, through a lawyer. He announced to the world on June 15 the scandalized assertion that "this murder took place in front of children"--because, he said, Frazier's nine-year-old niece accompanied her the whole time she was filming. At the time of that lawyer's confident histrionics, the detailed views of Floyd's death in video from police body cameras was still being kept from public view. But in August, when the bodycam evidence was finally pried loose, it showed that the diminutive figure accompanying Darnella Frazier wore a very evident bra beneath a green sweatshirt, a large Marie-Antoinette wig, makeup, and seemed to have a distended abdomen, while the sweatshirt said "Love." If this was a nine-year-old, as the heroic solicitor's voice insisted, maybe somebody should call Family Services.

Similar questions surround Floyd himself, who was not only arrested and imprisoned multiple times in his native Houston, but also in Minneapolis. At least according to a document filed in court, Floyd was arrested on May 6, 2019, in Minneapolis in a situation similar to the present incident, where impressive amounts of drugs were involved, he began weeping incoherently and had to be hospitalized, and allegedly told hospital authorities he was an addict. This wouldn't excuse the police if they choked him to death, but they didn't choke him to death. No evidence has ever been brought to light that controverts the extensive official autopsy, which found no airway damage or any other evidence of suffocation, not to mention that even the cellphone video shows Chauvin's knee is not blocking an airway, but is on the side of Floyd's neck, a restraint position taught by the police department's guidelines ("conscious neck restraint"). Further persuasive evidence is added by the non-appearance of the oft-promised "private autopsy," promised as showing physiologically how Floyd was choked. That promised refutation was such a chimera that finally on August 25, as deadlines glowered, a one-page excuse for its non-existence was filed in court, saying, in essence: well, we really don't need a confirmational autopsy after all, since we can go by "what we see in the video"--meaning Darnella Frazier's original video, which, when looked at coldly, shows that Chauvin's knee was not blocking an airway.

The entire construct of the George Floyd myth begins to shimmer like the certainty of Satan's insidious forked tail just out of sight around the corner, as Ann Putnam of Salem might have said.

JE comments:  Gary, even publishing "the police didn't kill Floyd" on these pages makes me uncomfortable; I fear that in Salem I may have joined the mob shouting "burn her!" 

But enough self-reflection.  Taking the unpopular position requires courage, and public opinion has long since condemned the Minneapolis PD for Floyd's death.  Of course, had the cops simply cuffed Floyd and called an ambulance, his subsequent death, from a drug overdose or lingering Covid, would not have made the news.

Do we know for certain if Floyd had Covid?  Also, I'm still astonished that the "Bro" onlooker remains anonymous.  Even if he's lying low, wouldn't someone in the neighborhood have identified him?

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  • In Praise of Gary Moore; On Golf and a Rolex (Enrique Torner, USA 09/10/20 3:57 AM)
    I want to praise Gary Moore (September 9th) for his thorough and superb journalism pieces on the George Floyd killings and for the bravery of posting his findings, no matter where his research led him. Our dear editor, John Eipper, also deserves praise for his bravery in publishing them, even when it made him feel "uncomfortable" to publish the proof that George Floyd was not killed by the police.

    This is the kind of journalism this country deserves, not the politically manipulated journalism we get on a regular basis. I hope Gary Moore gets the Pulitzer Prize he deserves.

    On a separate note, I would like to answer John's questions regarding my last post on my growing up in Spain and coming to the US. I don't play golf anymore. I stopped playing maybe a year after I came to the US. Life was too hectic, and, frankly, I never found anybody to play with. However, I still have my golf clubs, so who knows? Maybe, if I find somebody to play with after I retire, I might pick it up then. Regarding whether I ever considered going professional, well, If I had been good enough, it would have been a dream, but the best I ever reached was a 4 handicap, four shots short of scratch: not good enough! My highest accomplishment was winning a regional competition: the "Generalitat Championship," which was equivalent to being the Catalonian champion for one year.

    Regarding whether I still use my Rolex, the answer is that I stopped wearing it about 5-10 years ago when it started going slow on me.  I didn't want to be late for class, so I exchanged it for a Seiko solar watch, which always gives me the exact time, no matter how little I move my wrist! Oh, and I'm glad you (John E) are blessed with a great relationship with your sister. I'm afraid I can't say the same with my brothers, but that's a story that will only be told when I retire and write my novel, where real people become characters and the writer is free to do with them as he seems fit.

    JE comments:  Enrique, as our lone colleague in Minnesota, you are at the epicenter of the George Floyd controversy.  What is the mood in Mankato?  Do they consider the whole incident a "Minneapolis Problem"?  Mankato (80 miles away) is a college town, where we would normally expect teach-ins and candlelight vigils, but Covid has turned our campuses into ghost towns.  Strange times, very strange.

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    • "Cancel Culture," Confederate Monuments, and History (Timothy Ashby, -Spain 09/12/20 4:35 AM)
      Enormous kudos to Gary Moore (September 9th) for his truly outstanding forensic analysis of the George Floyd case. His conclusions were nearly identical to those that I have received from other law enforcement and intelligence community sources (which, regretfully, I cannot name).

      As a lawyer (member of the Washington DC and Florida bars) and former US government official, I can appreciate the analysis, especially as when I lived in Florida I had several Hispanic and Black policemen as friends who told me horrendous stories of the unending tide of crime they confront daily--truly a thin blue line!

      I ask my "Woke" acquaintances who seem to think that police forces are systemically racist how they would respond to an identical forensics analysis where the subject was a 6 foot, seven inches tall white career criminal named Floyd George who pleaded guilty in 2009 for armed robbery, including home invasion and assault with a pistol against a pregnant black woman, and was sentenced to five years in prison (paroled in January 2013). And who, according to court records was arrested on nine separate occasions between 1997 and 2007, mostly on drug and theft charges that resulted in months-long jail sentences. Same autopsy report as cited by Gary Moore.

      Would your sympathy change?

      I don't believe that the policemen involved will get a fair trial in Minneapolis, so hopefully their team of attorneys will move for a change of venue. Otherwise, the trial will be just as much of a travesty as the OJ Simpson circus. I learned many years ago that politics--especially racial politics--always trumps the law (no pun intended).

      John E asked what I thought about the movement to tear down or desecrate Confederate memorials (and which has now regressed to removing and defacing monuments and statues having nothing to do with the Confederacy--e.g. the disgusting defacing of the 54th Massachusetts Memorial to black Union soldiers, and even plans to remove a statue of Walt Whitman!). I am completely opposed to all of such attempts to destroy or re-write our history, which is the goal of the Maoist "Cancel Culture Cult."  Regarding Confederate memorials, no one I know considers these monuments to racism--they were erected to honour brave men who for the most part themselves did not believe they were fighting for slavery (only around 3 percent of Confederate soldiers owned slaves)--even if the War was fought over the question of expanding slavery to new territories in the West in addition to other States Rights issues.

      History can and should be studied, but not canceled by a tiny minority of people whose real goal is the overthrow of our shared Western civilisation. Our history has many tragic and even evil episodes, but we can learn from our mistakes and hopefully progress (although I am starting to have my doubts these days!).

      JE comments:  Whenever I hear a condemnation of the removal of Confederate monuments, I try to put myself in the place of African Americans who have to walk by sculptures honoring those who fought to keep their people enslaved.  White Anglo-Americans can never understand what this feels like.  The offending monuments should go to museums, as they've done in the former East Bloc nations.  I have no idea what to do with Stone Mountain, Georgia.  Still, there's a huge difference between historical debate and simple hooliganism.  Shame on those who vandalized the 54th Mass memorial in Boston, the work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, probably the greatest American sculptor of the 19th century.  Here's an example of the WAIS Effect for Patrick Mears:  Saint-Gaudens was born in Ireland, and came to the US with his parents in 1848.

      I hope Tim Ashby doesn't take offense with the above paragraph, as he has ancestors who fought on both sides of the Civil War.  I don't have a horse in this race:  My forebears, some of whom were Quakers, seem to have avoided every war of the last two centuries.  Were they lucky?  Principled?  Accomplished shirkers?

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      • "Cancel Culture": Is Compromise Possible? (Tor Guimaraes, USA 09/12/20 10:34 AM)
        When I read these debates about who is right and who is wrong about emotionally charged topics like the Civil War, slavery and other horrible injustices against Blacks, treatment of all law enforcers as psycho sociopaths, genocide against Native Americans and war-based genocide around the world, among other issues, it reminds me of when I was a child.

        There were plenty of things to fight and argue about, both sides always looked at the wrong things and bad behavior committed by the other side, and no one would ever agree. Now as an old man I thought intelligent and emotionally mature people should look at what they have done wrong and the what the other side has done right, and try to strike a working compromise, instead of never-ending bickering and possible violence.

        I know that the biggest obstacle to reaching these more productive understandings is ignorance of the relevant facts, and that in these days of alternative reality, compromises become extremely difficult. Also, the presently divisive leadership (a perfect oxymoron) means more fuel to the fire. So in general, get ready for more chaos.

        However, among the knowledgeable, intelligent, and some even wise members of WAIS, I expect we will reach a just compromise on these controversial issues. Everyone's got a righteous and wrongful side in these conflicts; look for your negatives before attacking the other side.  That is the constructive starting point.

        JE comments:  See the beam in your own eye, while ignoring the mote in your neighbor's?  Tor, you are wise (I'd dare say holy), but in today's divisive age, you might be asking the impossible.

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      • The Most Successful Example of "Cancel Culture" in US History (Francisco Ramirez, USA 09/13/20 3:51 AM)
        I have off and on thought about what it means to cancel culture or erase history. These have become catchy phrases used in defense of Confederate memorials in public places.

        However, the most dramatic and successful example of cancel culture came much earlier in the history of our country. That was the reimagining of the Civil War to erase the history of slavery and to cancel a culture that sustained this abomination. Though the monuments were mostly regional, the collusion to forget was national in scope. If you look at textbooks written in the early twentieth century, slavery gets little attention, with families of inevitably smiling Negros portrayed, and the suffering of white Southerners more likely emphasized. Empathy was not color blind. Bear in mind that I am not thinking about textbooks written by academics in the South. The one that I vividly recall was written by a Professor at Syracuse University. What Timothy Ashby calls tragic and evil episodes were mostly discussed as failures to prevent the Civil War but without an honest focus on slavery.

        Where there good and honorable people on both sides? Yes. Without a doubt. I grew up much enthralled by the figure of Robert E. Lee.

        But unless you are morally ambivalent about slavery, there were not equally good causes on both sides. Regardless of what they thought they were fighting for, the triumph of the South would have lead to the expansion of slavery to the new territories in the West, and of course, to the maintenance of slavery in the South. This was not an abstract states' rights issue. If it were just that, I could entertain the argument that sovereign states that freely entered a union should have the right to secede. But I end up favoring the "War of Northern Aggression," because that war put an end to slavery.

        However, instead of learning from our mistakes, we erased history and canceled culture. As a country we are still paying the price for the original cancel culture cult that lead to The Birth of A Nation and the sweeter Gone with The Wind. We will not learn from our mistakes if we do not honestly come to terms with the history of slavery and its legacy. However well-intentioned, the monuments in public places are a serious obstacle to learning from our mistakes. (It is really hard to think of Stone Mountain, Georgia, as having nothing to do with the Confederacy.) The monuments do not serve a public interest or enhance a common good. The monuments have persisted because the initial cancel culture cult was national in scope. The monuments should be retired, not defaced.

        I am less interested in indicting the past and more concerned about moving forward to a better future. I do not believe in applying present moral sensitivities to the past. What I object to is the incorrect assumption that the dominant version of our history was spot-on. Quite the contrary, the received history was premised on a very successful cancel culture cult, American, not Maoist.

        It is not true that nothing has changed. African Americans are more likely to think of themselves as rights-bearing citizens. That is progress. With enhanced status come increased aspirations. That is straightforward social science. So, the earlier cult is more forcefully challenged. They and their white Western Civilization-loving allies (there really are people like that) press and the monuments become a target. In their eyes the monuments symbolize a bad cause. I agree.

        Caveat: It is true that not all targets make sense.

        PS: I confess that it is only recently that I have learned that we also have army bases and naval battleships that bear the names of Confederate generals. I guess that also has nothing to do with the Confederacy?

        JE comments:  Indeed.  Forts Hood, Bragg, Lee, and A. P. Hill are glaring examples of Cancel Culture--for just a moment, take in the fact that these generals made war against the United States.  (Imagine a Fort Santa Anna or Fort Rommel.)  The Confederates made out even better than the Union generals in the name game.  Forts Meade and Custer are the only ones I can think of for Northern officers.  And Custer (from nearby Monroe, Michigan) is overdue for "cancellation" himself, given his relentless warring against the Native Americans.

        The "impetuous" John Bell Hood was a singularly lethal commander for both sides, but especially for his own men.  And he wasn't even a Texan.  I support the calls for renaming the fort after the WWII hero and Texan, Audie Murphy.

        Francisco Ramírez asks a provocative question:  Is the "Lost Cause" the original inspiration for Cancel Culture?

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        • Textbook Selection in the US: The Power of Texas (Edward Jajko, USA 09/14/20 3:57 AM)
          In response to Francisco Ramírez's statement about a professor at Syracuse University and the contribution of his textbook to the misinterpretation of this country's history of slavery, the way of life of the South, etc., while it is possible that that professor may have had malicious intent, may have been ignorant or obtuse, there is also another possible explanation. Textbooks were (and are?) written for national readerships and published by major houses. The McGraw Hill Book Company was for some time the largest publisher of textbooks in the US. (McGraw Hill, now S&P Global, has gone through so many changes that I'm not sure if a subsidiary or another company entirely is still the major US textbook publisher.)

          In a class on publishing in the School of Library Service of Columbia University, given in 1969-'70 by the then Executive VP of McGraw Hill, I learned about some of the obstacles in textbook publishing. Textbooks have to be approved for adoption by school boards, beginning on the state level but then also being reflected in decisions of county or other local boards. Texas had an outsize influence on textbook publishing. It was, first, a state with a large population, but second, it has 254 counties. Right now, Texas has about 30,000,000 people and 254 counties. California has 40,000,000, a population larger than Canada, and 58 counties. For textbook publishers, that meant 255 jurisdictions at the very least that had to be satisfied with the contents of the textbooks that would be used for the teaching of young Texans. An adoption of a textbook by Texas would likely mean adoption by other Southern states as well as those in the North, and a return on investment for the publisher and income from royalties for the textbook author.

          Some textbook authors made millions from their work. One such author, a Stanford professor who was made a Hoover Fellow (and was pleasant and decent even toward us who were not in his field), built an architecturally distinguished house on the campus that he willed to the university; it serves as the residence of the provost.

          But back to the main topic: I would suspect that the reason the Syracuse professor's textbook added to or followed the narrative of the Lost Cause was the problems faced by publishers in trying to get their textbooks approved by the innumerable school boards in the different regions of the country and the concessions they made in order to get their books published, however imperfect or imprecise.

          JE comments:  I had long been aware that Texas exerts a disproportionate influence on US textbook selection, but Ed Jajko is the first to explain why:  Texas has more individual jurisdictions than California.  (For comparison, New York has 62 counties, Florida 67.)  Veteran WAISers recall that Prof. Hilton was fascinated with how history is taught in different nations (and regions within nations).  The final project of his life was the establishment of a library for the comparative study of history textbooks.  The "WAIS History Textbook Project" ultimately gained little traction, but it might be time to return to this extremely valuable "Lost Cause."

          As for the Confederate Lost Cause, the original intentions may have been national reconciliation--for white people.  The rub was that the LC narrative brought Jim Crow, voter suppression and another century of second-class status for African Americans.

          Returning to textbooks, technology now allows for content to be tailored to meet customer expectations.  If it hasn't happened already, we'll soon see the "Texas" and "California" versions of American history.  Of course, the very notion of "textbook" is changing.  Prices have become stratospheric.  The intro Spanish text we teach from now costs--gulp!--$210.  My college days weren't that long ago, and a basic textbook ran about $30.

          My conclusion:  the days of the printed textbook are numbered.

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      • With Confederate Monuments, It's OK to Disagree (Timothy Ashby, -Spain 09/13/20 4:40 AM)
        JE wrote on September 12th: "I hope Tim Ashby doesn't take offense with [my position against Confederate monuments], as he has ancestors who fought on both sides of the Civil War."

        Perish the thought, John! We can agree to disagree about the monuments. But let the defeated and humiliated Confederates and their descendants take pride in bravery, not in fighting to preserve slavery (which, as I said, most did not think they were doing anyway). History should be left alone.

        By the way, I have no known ancestors who fought on the Yankee side in the War Between the States!

        JE comments: Tim, I apologize for inventing your non-existent Yankee ancestors! Several years ago I found one of my own, the German-born Pvt John Eipper of the 11th New Hampshire.  He is remembered by an asterisk:  "Deserted at Harrisburg, PA."  Looks like my ersatz Great Uncle John was a bounty jumper:  take the [enlistment] money and run.  This URL is nearly as long as his time of service:


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      • We Must Let Robert E Lee Go (Cameron Sawyer, USA 09/15/20 9:37 AM)
        John E wrote on September 12th: "Whenever I hear a condemnation of the removal of Confederate monuments, I try to put myself in the place of African Americans who have to walk by sculptures honoring those who fought to keep their people enslaved. White Anglo-Americans can never understand what this feels like. The offending monuments should go to museums, as they've done in the former East Bloc nations."

        JE took the words right out of my mouth. I believe Robert E Lee (a relative of mine, by the way) was a good man, and I believe that the origins of the Civil War were a bit more complicated than the current narrative would like, but the bottom line is these monuments were put up during a period in our history when black people were being treated viciously, were having the benefits of freedom taken away from them by being forced into a kind of apartheid made of Jim Crow and other kinds of horrible institutions, and all that at the very same time when a wave of Confederate nostalgia was producing all these monuments. And we want black people to believe that the monuments and Jim Crow have nothing to do with one another? Really?

        I'm kind of sorry they have to go, because to me they don't represent slavery or oppression, but go they must. We'll never make any progress in this country if we don't heal these wounds somehow, and giving up Robert E Lee is the least we can do.

        JE comments:  I'm just a Yankee from generations of shirkers, but Cameron Sawyer's Southern pedigree gives his message genuine gravitas.  My one concern:  if Robert E Lee ends up "cancelled," is there any reason that fellow slaveholders Jefferson and even Washington won't have to join him?

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        • If We Cancel Robert E Lee, What About Jefferson...and Washington? (Edward Jajko, USA 09/16/20 4:53 AM)
          John E commented on September 15th: "If Robert E Lee ends up 'canceled,' is there any reason that fellow slaveholders Jefferson and even Washington won't have to join him?"

          And what happens then to Washington and Lee University, or Jefferson City, Missouri, Jeffersonville, Indiana, or Jefferson University and Medical School, Philadelphia, or the State of Washington?

          JE comments:  Ed, I still remember my 6th-grade class trip to Jefferson City.  During the tour we learned that the correct name is "City of Jefferson."  Missourians say "Jeff City"--but never "St Louie." 

          We could make a list here of epic proportions.  The US capital may be overdue for two cancellations:  Washington (egads!), District of Columbia (the horrors!).  Perhaps, following the example of the former Washington Redskins, we could simply opt for the generic:  "Capital City of the United States."

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    • Mankato, Minnesota in the George Floyd Era (Enrique Torner, USA 09/13/20 6:09 AM)
      Our dear editor John Eipper asked me what the mood is in Mankato, Minnesota, regarding the George Floyd controversy,

      Mankato is one and a half hours from the Twin Cities. The day of that famous event when the Twin Cities were rioted and destroyed by the protesting masses, some of the protesters decided to drive down to Mankato to stir up the people down here. I did not actually see the mass of people demonstrating on the streets, but my family and I followed their movement as they walked from the downtown area to the eastern edge of town using a radio app one of our daughters was able to access. We could hear what the police were saying as they were communicating among themselves, and we could know their location as they were moving. They were able to get as close as two blocks away from our home and be loud enough to be heard. The police barricaded the entrance to the streets that were perpendicular to the main avenue they were walking on, so they could not enter the residential areas. The protestors ended up at our town main mall, where they destroyed the Target entrance. Along the way, they also broke into a cell phone store, where they did some looting. Those were some scary moments.

      After a few days of pretty heavy public demonstrations, they died down. However, the effect of this whole Floyd "movement" has affected the academic community. All the colleges have had to come up with a written statement denouncing police brutality and in defense of racial tolerance. University professors have been asked to incorporate statements and activities into their curricula that help promote racial understanding and cooperation, among other things.

      Our university, in the last decade or so, led by our university president, has been very active recruiting international students and students of color from the Twin Cities, leading to a more diverse community. This has brought good and bad to our community: yes, you can tell our population is much more diverse than it was years ago; but, unfortunately, burglaries, crime, and drugs have also increased. Mankato is not as safe as it used to be.

      Just a few days ago, as one of my daughters and I were driving on the street, we saw an African American man walking on the street with a sign and screaming something. I did not see it, but my daughter, looking at her rearview mirror, was able to see how he had placed himself in front of a car and was banging the hood as he was shouting something. It is still very common to see people standing on the streets carrying signs regarding the Floyd/police confrontation. So, to answer John's question, this whole Floyd movement is not only a Minneapolis/St. Paul movement: it has spread out and affected the whole state quite meaningfully.

      On the side, one of our Minnesota State University campuses, Winona State, just quarantined itself for two weeks because of an alarming increase in Coronavirus cases. We have been seeing an increase as well, and, just last week, the MN Health Department offered free COVID-19 tests to all students and employees for two days so we can have a better assessment to our health status and make the appropriate decision. On the other hand, it doesn't help that students, once they leave the buildings, don't follow the guidelines and gather together for fun without masks or the appropriate distance. It wouldn't surprise me if our university has to go fully online way before Thanksgiving, after which it has already been decided that everybody will have to go fully online. So I'm glad I decided to stay home and teach online already at the beginning of the summer.

      JE comments:  Enrique, I may have told you this off-Forum, but Adrian College transitioned to totally on-line instruction at least until September 21st.  My fortnight in the real classroom after August 24th was the shortest semester ever!  Last Wednesday was the first time in 30+ years I taught all day in shorts, barefoot, and from my couch.  At AC we're doing "synchronous" instruction, which means I gather everybody together virtually at regular class time.  So far, student attendance has been fairly strong.  There is one enormous challenge for classes larger than 10 people:  you cannot see the students on the screen, so teaching is rather like the experience of a radio DJ.  It's disorienting for those unaccustomed.  (With smaller groups it's technically feasible to leave everyone's camera on.)

      Ah, to return to the good ol' days of CLASS:


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  • Is the George Floyd Controversy Exploited by the Corporate Media? (George Aucoin, -France 09/10/20 4:20 AM)
    Gary Moore's analysis (September 9th) is empirically derived from available contemporary video evidence, and other published data confirmed by more sources than just "The Police," and is quite rational. Here's what Gary doesn't say: This arrest was intentionally politicized by the news media to support a Democratic Election Theme--despite available evidence to the contrary.

    Gary doesn't say that those who follow the corporate news are being mislead and it's not out of ignorance---but by design.

    Folks like me (wise to the lack of any integrity by corporate media) knew this hyped story of police brutality was likely to be false at the first telling. We didn't have Gary's dogged approach to detailed analysis but because the "media" has lost all credibility with us, we simply waited for the other shoe to drop. And so it has.

    Don't hold your breath for any retractions by your vaunted media. That's not how the game of advocacy is played. Any retraction wouldn't have near the "hits" that the initial political advocacy had anyway.

    Feeling soiled and used yet...or is it just me?

    JE comments:  The Ferguson (Missouri)-Michael Brown incident happened during Obama's presidency, and it seems to me it received as much media coverage.  Probably more, as 2014 was pre-Covid and pre-everything else.  Doesn't the press relish social unrest, regardless of politics?  In any case, Minneapolis is a famously liberal city--likely the most liberal in America outside the usual Coastal suspects (San Francisco, Seattle, Boston).  If the corporate media were hell-bent on smearing Trump's race policies, wouldn't it have preferred a Red State target?

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    • George Floyd, WAIS, and Wider Media Coverage (Leo Goldberger, USA 09/10/20 8:02 AM)
      I second my admiration for Gary Moore's incredible analysis and reporting on the George Floyd case!

      However, I am most curious to learn whether his WAIS reporting will also be published elsewhere and reach not just the relevant judicial folks in Minnesota, but also the wider media.  It certainly needs to be, as even Democratic voters prefer the truth over understandable misinformation.

      JE comments: Leo, you give me the perfect opportunity to remind WAISers that one can Facebook (is that a verb?) or re-Tweet a WAIS post with the click of a mouse!  See the icons on our homepage (waisworld.org).

      To be honest, I've never followed my own advice, as I am an abysmal Facebookista and I don't Tweet at all.  Nor am I properly Linked In, although we offer that icon, too.  Can anyone share their experiences with re-publishing WAIS posts?

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  • Has the Public Frenzy Turned George Floyd's Death into a Witch-Hunt? (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 09/11/20 4:20 AM)
    Gary Moore writes:

    When I wrote the follow-up below to my George Floyd post of September 9, I didn't know that Sept. 10 would bring gratifying positive responses from WAIS, for which my heartfelt thanks. But also, speaking with their silence at this point, there are probably other WAISers who may distrust or reject my analysis. Their responses have special value, not least because in any case of mass misperception, such as I've alleged on this one, the necessarily solitary and uncollaborated questioner is going to make some errors--hoping they're small--and disagreeing views help refine the overall result.

    Also, there are various important aspects of the George Floyd events that I didn't touch on, because (as George Aucoin implied yesterday) they are conceptual or social and go beyond a limited microscope focused on immediate concretes--which seemed task enough in the face of the massive consensus I was questioning. Even in the limited concretes there are issues I didn't get into, such as the surprising apparent roots of some of George Floyd's bizarre ante-mortem behavior, which behavior helped frame a melodramatic illusion. The follow-up below, written in large part to those who might find my conclusions suspect, is somber. Maybe it should be.

    John E, obligated as moderator to comment on my George Floyd post (Sept 9), faced a difficult task, for my post maintained that public perception of the explosive George Floyd case has become a witch hunt. I implied that a widely held complex of popular assumptions on the case has so little basis in the (tardily) demonstrable facts as to form a kind of national-scale (or international-scale) mass delusion, to be classed historically with Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. I also called the widespread consensus on Floyd's May 25 death an "accusation frenzy," in which the satisfaction of spying demonic images requires scapegoats to be sacrificed.

    As John suggested, this position says starkly that even many educated and articulate voices of indignation are not reliable guides to what's really there. It should be borne in mind, however, that originally in this case, such voices arose in an accident of timing, when a single shocking image hit public sensibilities yet few surrounding facts were available. On the night of May 25 a lone cellphone video went viral on Facebook, featuring a central tableau so startling, so obviously real, and at the same time so horrifically compact in its embodiment of ancient archetypes of inhumanity and oppression, that surely, it seemed, any additional information about it would be trivial--for here (the picture said better than a thousand words) was apparent confirmation of an oft-alleged but supposedly oft-hidden official underworld of demonically intense abuse, finally outed only by post-millennial technology, fusing phone to Facebook.

    The emotional power of the image presented each empathizing viewer with a crisis: Will I stand up and denounce the arrogant violation so unanswerably depicted, or will I blandly avoid or tolerate it? People everywhere, including officials, rushed to be counted among those brave enough to denounce; any hesitations or (very isolated) pleas for investigation seemed surely to be (and often were disgustedly dismissed as) mere craven apologetics or cover-ups. And then the immediate secondary effects--at least 16 cities disrupted by George Floyd protests and chaos--demanding, as the initial image had done, that small-seeming non sequiturs and clues in the image itself not be questioned. After all, it was not a faked or falsified image. But, in a manner that a hurtling technological age scarcely had time to fathom, it was a tightly, almost mystically framed image, cutting out, by its accidental but perfect positioning and its happenstance but highly selective timing, a world of factors that would have diluted its iconic purity, by revealing its less melodramatic truths.

    The frame tightened into June as officialdom, impassioned or afraid not to look impassioned, cooperated by actually withholding the abundance of evidence that could have countered a growing national paroxysm of rage. By August, as the evidence was finally shaken loose in confusing dribs and drabs, an indignant public picture of undiluted evil had become so firmly entrenched (as every new wave of attention seemed surely to bring, not disproofs, but angry confirmations from the convinced) that opinion-shapers, not to mention private interpreters, were left with what seemed to be the original image but now more highly credible than ever, with only a few minor moderations added, to show we're fair.

    At Salem in 1692 the trial judges were not caricatured screamers but repeatedly ruled out as fantasies some of the more outlandish allegations provided by snowballing public certitudes. And yet by the end of the day at Salem, duly endorsed as a reasonable and non-superstitious outcome, there were the twenty dead witches.

    How could this possibly be us?

    JE comments:  When race becomes involved, crime takes on a new significance--it's a hate crime.  (Don't all crimes demonstrate hatred towards their victims?)  Gary Moore's investigative work has shown a remarkable consistency in public outrage over the centuries.  Only the targets of mob frenzy change.

    Gary, going from the general to the specific, do you believe there's any way Derek Chauvin can receive a fair trial?  If you're a public official, wouldn't you want to lock him away for good?  An acquittal (regardless of the facts) will certainly lead to riots, and possibly more deaths.  Rest assured that the prosecutors must get a guilty verdict for their own well-being, as failure will cause the racism label to rub off on them

    And we're left with the haunting videos of Chauvin kneeling relentlessly, and seemingly forever, on Floyd's neck.  These images cannot be unseen.

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    • Hate Crimes: A Quick Question (Henry Levin, USA 09/12/20 6:07 AM)
      John E commented on September 11th: "When race becomes involved, crime takes on a new significance--it's a hate crime. (Don't all crimes demonstrate hatred towards their victims?)"

      If a Black father who is unemployed steals a loaf of bread to feed his children, is that a "hate crime"? I don't understand.

      JE comments:  Point well taken, Hank.  I should have thought this one through.  I was clumsily trying to say that victimizing someone is always an act of hatred.  But then there's the question of motivation:  it's one thing to be motivated by hatred, another if it's simple desperation (or less justifiably, greed).

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