In his latest (6.12) “Making Sense with Sam Harris” podcast, we are presented with a highly thoughtful litany of observations, ruminations, fatalisms, meandering questions, laments, analyses, downbeat fragments, etc. And then, finally, just before the 1:10 mark, Harris finally gets down and actually makes a couple of points. About the whole “violent cops vs. innocent persons of color who are being killed indiscriminately” thing.
Harris starting at 1:09: “Most cops are not confident in their ability to control a person. They’re continually confronting people who are bigger or younger or more athletic or more aggressive than they are. Cops are not super-heroes. They’re ordinary people with insufficient training. And once things turn physical, they can’t afford to give a person who is now assaulting a police officer, the benefit of the doubt.
“And this is something that people seem totally confused about. They see a video of someone fighting with a cop, and punching him or her in the face. And the person is armed. Many people think that cop should just punch back. And that any use of deadly force, at that point, would be totally disproportionate. But that’s not how violence works. It’s not the cop’s job to be the best bare-knuckled boxer on earth, so that he doesn’t have to use his gun. The cop can’t risk getting repeatedly hit in the face and knocked out, because there’s always a gun in play.
“This is the cop’s perception of the world, and it’s a justifiable one, given the dynamics of human violence.
“Now, you might think that cops shouldn’t carry guns. Why can’t we just be like England? That’s a point that can be debated, but it requires considerable thought in a country where there are over 300 million guns in circulation. The United States is not England.
“Again — really focus on what is happening when a cop is attempting to arrest a person. It’s not up to you [the alleged law-breaker] to decide whether or not you should be arrested. And does it matter that you know you didn’t do anything wrong? How could that fact be effectively communicated in the moment by your not following police commands?
“I’m gonna ask this again: how could the fact that you’re innocent, that you’re not a threat to the cop, that you’re not about to suddenly attack him or produce a weapon of your own…how could those things be effectively communicated at the moment he’s attempting to arrest you, by your resisting arrest?
“And unless you call the cops yourself, you don’t really know what the situation is. If I’m walking down the street I don’t know if a cop who’s approaching me didn’t just get a call that a guy who looks like Ben Stiller just committed an armed robbery. I know I didn’t do anything. I know I’m mystified as to why the cop is paying attention to me at that moment. But I don’t know what’s in the cop’s head.
“The time to find out what’s going on…the time to complain about racist cops…the time to scream and tell them they’re all gonna get fired for their stupidity and misconduct…is after cooperating. At the police station. Preferably in the presence of a lawyer. But to not comply in the heat of the moment, when a guy with a gun is issuing commands….this raises your risk [factor] astronomically. And this is something that many people, it seems, just do not intuitively understand.
Harris then quotes a 7.14.16 Time article by John McWhorter, titled “Police Kill Too Many People — White and Black.” Statistics show that just as many (if not more) whites have been shot and killed by cops, except the media never mentions these instances. They only mention the incidents involving black suspects. Oh, and by the way: McWhorter is a journalist of color.