By John Grant, This Can’t Be Happening, 7/14/16
The Ultimate Attribution Error Fuels War
Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya
– From the Gullah song meaning, Lord, come by here and help us
There was a true kumbaya moment after the Dallas cop massacre similar to the moment after 9/11 when sympathy was expressed for America from many unexpected quarters around the world. That window began to close when US leaders took a hard line and vengefully attacked an un-implicated nation to counter the very sense of vulnerability that moved people of the world to sympathize with us. Similarly, the sympathy for attacked cops in Dallas may be evaporating thanks to a familiar sociological dynamic involving in-group, out-group identification.
Sociologists and psychologists call this “the ultimate attribution error.” As explained in an interesting New York Times article by Amanda Taub, it’s when people “attribute another group’s positive actions to random chance or circumstance but assume that [the other group’s] negative actions reflect the group’s core nature.” That is, in times of stress, people “circle the wagons” around their own kind based on a belief that their motives are human and honorable; those of the projected enemy are the essence of pure evil. “Once you dehumanize them, it’s easier to justify violence,” says Professor John Dovidio of the Inter-Group Relations Lab at Yale.
This can be seen on both sides of the Black Lives Matter versus Blue Lives Matter conflict. For me, it involves anger, laziness and a failure of courage to see or listen to or talk with a perceived enemy. Better to huddle up with your own pack and project your fears on the other guy….
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by Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, 7/15/16
Citing recent killings by police, Tim Scott of South Carolina asked his colleagues to stop ignoring the struggles of those who face racial prejudice.
Tim Scott of South Carolina is the only black Republican in the United States Senate. This week, moved by police killings of Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and Philando Castile, he rose to the floor to deliver a moving speech about his personal history being stopped by law-enforcement officers for what amounted to driving while black. “While I thank God that I have not endured bodily harm,” he declared, “I have felt the pressure applied by the scales of justice when they are slanted. I have felt the anger, the frustration, the sadness, and the humiliation that comes from feeling that you are being targeted for nothing more than being just yourself.”
The first time he was stopped by police, his car had a malfunctioning headlight. A cop approached, hand on his gun, and told him, “Boy, don’t you know your headlight isn’t working properly?” He felt “embarrassed, ashamed, and scared. Very scared.”
Other traffic stops followed. …
continue reading at The Atlantic
by Jared Keller, Pacific Standard, 12/29/15
Is there hope for next year?
Quintonio LeGrier was murdered on Saturday.
The 19-year-old engineering student was shot and killed by Chicago police officers, according to ABC 7 Chicago, after cops responded to a call around 4:30 a.m from LeGrier’s father saying his son was “acting crazy” and waving a baseball bat. LeGrier wasn’t the responding officers’ only victim; Bettie Jones, a 55-year-old anti-violence activist, mother of five, and LeGreir’s downstairs neighbor, was caught in the crossfire and killed. “An innocent lady got shot as well, because the police were trigger happy,” LeGrier’s mother, Janet Cooksey, told reporters. “I went to the hospital. My son has seven bullet holes in him.” Amid the subsequent public outrage, beleaguered Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has quickly called for police reform.
This is by now a tragically familiar story. As of December 24, police officers have fatally shot 965 Americans this year, according to a Washington Post tally. Of those 965, only 564 were armed with guns; about 90 were totally unarmed. While the Post found that white police officers shooting unarmed black men—incidents that have sparked ongoing protests in cities across the United States—represented fewer than four percent of total fatal police shootings in 2015, “Race remains the most volatile flash point in any accounting of police shootings,” the Post authors write. “Although black men make up only 6 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 40 percent of the unarmed men shot to death by police this year.”…
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by LEON KWASI KUNTUO-ASARE, 5/18/15
In another tragic case of white on white violent crime, on Sunday afternoon May 17, 2015, several white supremacist motorcycle gangs got into a shoot out. There were at least five gang factions involved and 9 people were murdered while 18 were injured as a result of the guns, chains, clubs and knives used in the Waco, Texas motorcycle gang melee….
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