Category Archives: Social Commentary

Cowards, assault, & the Nation magazine

Lewis Allen Wilson. Steven Glenn Young. William Burleigh. Michael Carey.

These are just some of the people killed in Oregon over the last few years—from one punch.

Teaching self-defense has been my only profession for the last 25 years. That much of the population is uninformed is about the dangers inherent in blunt force trauma to the skull isn’t news. What is news is the surprising number of people who think it’s morally acceptable to punch someone in the face if they consider their views repugnant.

A few days ago, a widely viewed video of white nationalist, Richard Spencer, being sucker punched in the side of the head by a protestor went viral.

There is nothing extraordinary about the existence of white nationalists, or violent protestors. What is surprising is that many well-known left wing activists, and outlets, are applauding this assault. When Portland Philosophy professor, Peter Boghossian asked on Twitter, “Do you think it’s a good thing that a bad man was punched?”, secular activist, Dan Arel responded, “I have no problem with it. Racists must know their message won’t be tolerated here.”

Responses like this can be forgiven because they reflect an ignorance about the dangers of head trauma. Many people may not know that when people’s skulls run into concrete, this often leads to serious injury or death. What cannot be forgiven, however, is the complete lack of self-awareness required to miss the irony inherent in advocating physical violence as an appropriate response to ugly ideas. I’m quite sure many were fully capable of turning Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” into wearable fashion over night, but somehow the same people cannot think of a witty retort to a neo Nazi whose missed his calling by 77 years?

For those may claim I’m being hyperbolic when I say “many well-known left wing activists and outlets”, and painting with too broad brush, take a look at this article from The Nation.

To quote:

The transcendental experience of watching Roger Federer play tennis, David Foster Wallace wrote, was one of “kinetic beauty.” Federer’s balletic precision and mastering of time, on the very edge of what seems possible for a body to achieve, was a form of bodily genius. What Foster Wallace saw in a Federer Moment, I see in a video of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer getting punched in the face.”

 

Two things. First, it’s obvious from the immaturity of those words that the author of that passage knows nothing about real violence, which, given their fairytale view on it, is probably fortunate. And second, as a Mixed Martial Arts coach whose been working with athletes for well over two decades, I’ve never heard anyone romanticize a poorly thrown sucker punch launched at a man who was facing away – but the again, I train actual fighters, not cowards.

It’s as cliché as it is true: freedom of speech becomes most important the moment it’s applied to concepts, thoughts, and ideas we find abhorrent. It’s when the speech is really ugly, vulgar, repulsive, that freedom of expression matters. The best way to deal with people who have bad ideas is, in the spirit of Martin Luther King and Ghandi, to rationally and civilly, engage those ideas, not to punch them in the head. And those who consider themselves “liberal” should be the first to recognize this.

In physical violence, perhaps safe spaces have reached their ultimate conclusion. They’ve created a group of people incapable of vigorous debate on ideas, and so handicapped by way of creative response that all they have at their disposal are tools of censorship and violence. And doesn’t that sound eerily similar to some other notorious groups? Perhaps Dan Arel and Richard Spencer have a lot more in common than either has yet to realize.

There in lies the irony so much of the modern left seems to be missing. It’s not easy to make a man like Donald Trump look good by comparison, but the people who physically assault others because of words, and those who applaud them – manage to pull it off.

Here is something Natasha Lennard (writer of the Nation piece), Dan Arel, and all their left wing fans clearly don’t understand. Sometimes violence is the answer. But when violence is the right answer, it is only because it is the only answer. Your job, is to make sure the reason it’s the only answer is because it’s your final option – not because you’re too creatively inept, too communicatively feeble, and too witlessly impotent – to respond any other way.

 

The Hate Crime Test

I have maintained three main objectives over the last two decades as it relates to work. The first is to teach people functional martial arts. The second is to teach people why some things work and some don’t, giving them the tools for critical thinking – the answer seeking process as opposed to the dogmatically held conclusion – which transcends all aspects of our lives. And the third is to help people come into a healthy relationship with a topic that is intrinsic to our very evolution – violence.

In one form or another, whether it’s teaching a Jiu-Jitsu class at my academy, a seminar somewhere else in the world, a lecture at a school, or an essay I am writing, everything tends to revolve around those three goals. To that end I read a lot of what comes into the market (books or academic publications) that’s related; and I subscribe to a lot of newsfeeds which keep me updated on crime data, and events. This is one of the many stories I see daily. And this one, while not uncommon, is particularly gut wrenching. I considered not posting it and just carrying on with my other projects; but after some thought I realized that this story is something I can’t ignore. As gruesome as it is, it serves to illustrate a few really telling lessons.

What happened? Four black teenagers, two male and two female, kidnapped a young white male with special needs. They held him for upwards of 48 hours. They tied him up, tortured him, scalped him with a knife, put cigarettes out on his head, beat him, made him drink from the toilet – and filmed the whole thing, which, they also live streamed on Facebook for 30 minutes.

You can read the story, and if you’re up for it, watch part of the video, here.

I don’t find this story necessary to write about because it’s uncommon, it isn’t. I find it necessary to write about it because of the very simple test I’d like you to take at the end of this essay.

Arguably the biggest domestic story of 2014 was the assumed scourge of police violence against “unarmed” black males. It permeated the news outlets, it kicked off after the false narrative in Ferguson –  “hands up don’t shoot”, caught fire – and it hasn’t abated since.

But is it true?

I’ve written about this at length already (here), and if anything, I was being way too safe with the numbers. Here is the truth. The idea that white on black violence is a major problem in the United States, is a lie. The fact is, just the opposite is true. Black crime and violence against whites, gays, women, seniors, young people, and other black Americans, is astronomically out of proportion – and it’s been that way for a long time. You can see just how out of proportion it is, here.

What about “hate crimes”? In the United States, by percentage, blacks are more likely to commit hate crimes than any other race. You can read the FBI data on these crimes here.

You’ll note that in 2013, of the 5800+ hate crimes reported, 52.4% of known offenders were white, and 24.3% of known offenders were black. Two things to keep in mind. First, the FBI lumps Hispanics and whites into one category and the two combined make up about 63% of the American population. And second, according to the latest census, blacks make up less than 13% of the US population. Given that, by percentage, African Americans commit far more hate crimes than any other group.

All this makes you wonder why Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, stated:

Part of whether or we not we seek a hate crime (is to) determine whether or not this is sincere or stupid ranting and raving. I think part of it is just stupidity. At this point, we don’t have anything concrete to point toward a hate crime.”

Given the fact that his city has seen a 53% increase in homicides since 2015 – and managed to accumulate 4,331 shootings in 2016 alone, maybe he should take ‘stupid’ a bit more seriously. After all, stupid and fatal often go together.

The good news is, in the last 24 hours, Eddie Johnson changed his tune. These thugs will be charged with a hate crime. And while I’m not a fan of hate crime laws in general (when is the kidnapping and torturing of an individual based in anything but hate?), these predators are likely to be locked up longer. And that’s good for everyone. I support the death penalty for a number of reasons. Barring its use in this case, I’d hope for at least 50 year sentences. We know from the recidivism rates, if humans like those who attacked this handicapped man are released, they’ll do nothing but hurt others – over and over again.

This is a deeply depressing subject. I’ve been working on a book about violence for four years now. At this stage, I feel like I’ve read and thought about this enough for several lifetimes. Believe me when I tell you there are many things I’d enjoy writing about more. But there are inescapable lessons here that need to be realized.

To begin with, despite what superintendent Johnson stated, people who kidnap and torture a special needs individual for 48 hours, and go live on Facebook as they scalp him and make him drink from a toilet – are not “kids who made a stupid mistake“. And hey, Chicago, after a 53% increase in murder, will you protest so the guy who says they are loses his job? (Don’t hold your breath).

Second, if this isn’t a “hate” crime, then hate crimes don’t exist. But don’t expect the SPLC to be publicizing this atrocity. They’re currently busy going after heroines like, Aayan Hirsi Ali.  And if you support a group like the SPLC, would you consider withdrawing that support now?

And finally, and most importantly as it relates to the point of this essay, consider Piers Morgan’s hypothetical below:

Imagine for a moment that a young black man with special needs had been kidnapped, abused and tortured by a gang of smirking white youths?

Imagine watching a video of this black man’s horrific ordeal streamed live on Facebook?

Imagine seeing and hearing the white assailants systematically torment their black victim, physically and mentally?

Imagine watching them kicking him, punching him, scalping him and flicking burning cigarette ash on the wounds they inflicted with their vicious, sustained assault?

Imagine hearing one of them shouting ‘F**k Barack Obama! F**k black people!’ as they did so?

Then imagine the video of all this emerging and hitting TV screens and news websites across America.

All hell would rightly have broken loose.

There would have been instant huge protests, and probably riots.

The #BlackLivesMatter group would have lit up social media demanding ‘justice’.

Black celebrities, led by the likes of Beyoncé and John Legend, would have made statements expressing their fury at the incident and their solidarity with the victim.

Police, under the huge pressure of such concerted public outrage, would have undoubtedly confirmed this as a hate crime.”

Now please ask yourself, is Piers wrong?

If four white youth kidnapped and tortured a young, special needs, black male – scalped him, beat him, and made him say “Fuck Barrack Obama!” and “I love white people!” – would it become a national cause celeb? Would black lives matter protest? Would your well to do progressive white friends be sharing stories about it on their Facebook pages?  Would celebrities like Sarah Silverman take to the airwaves?

Do any of you, think any of them, would ignore this?

Take a look here, as Don Lemon from CNN questions Symone Sanders on this tragedy.

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Don Lemon seems shocked kids would do this. And since this sort of thing happens daily in places like Chicago, where most shootings revolve around shoes and being “disrespected” (petty disputes over status), the only thing shocking is that Don’s shocked.

Symone Sanders wants to blame Trump. Let that sit with you for a bit.

And – above all else, watch the expression on Miss Sanders face as Alice Stewart correctly nails the root cause of these sorts of attacks – the breakdown of the American family. Sanders acts as if this idea is bizarre or unheard of. After all “for all we know”, Miss Sanders says “these kids came from loving two parent homes.”

What Miss Sander’s probably knows but is too dishonest, or perhaps callous, to acknowledge, is that within the black community nationwide, the out of wedlock birthrates is around 72% , and within these neighborhoods – the no-go zones of Chicago, Detroit, and Baltimore, it moves into the 90% range. Yet, for some reason, people who hold the political views of Miss Sanders, many of whom are upper middle class and white, just don’t want to acknowledge that reality.

So here’s my test, and my point behind sharing this tragedy.

Please do the following three things, in order:

#1 – Watch the video of this crime. It’s horrible. It isn’t something any sane and normative human would want to see; but given the rates of violence within these areas – it needs to be seen to fully understand what is being discussed.

#2 – Watch the video posted here of CNN’s Don Lemon discussing the case. And pay particular attention to Miss Sanders.

#3 – I’d like you to keep an eye on the pages and articles shared by your more left leaning friends. I’d like you to see if they prove me wrong. Given that black on white violence occurs at a rate that’s more than double that of white on black crime – will your liberal democratic friends mention it? Will the talking point shift from hysteria over the word TRUMP being written in chalk, or a disfigured religious lawn ornament – to the far more prevalent crime of black on white violence?

Or will they ignore the racially motivated kidnapping and torturing of a mentally disabled young man, simply because of his skin color?

Keep your eyes open. Watch and see.

I know the result I’d bet on.

Statistically speaking the odds of a black American being killed by a white American, police officer or otherwise, are so small they barely register on a graph. Statistically speaking the odds of a black American being killed by another black American, are astronomically high. In fact, if you’re a black man under the age of 35, that’s your most likely cause of death. So if white liberals ignore this topic all together – what does that tell you about how they really feel about people of color?

In closing let me add two points.

First, once the young victim of this horror show receives the proper physical and mental health treatment – which he may now need for a lifetime; I hope he finds his way into a place like SBG. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be a great healer for this sort of trauma.

And second, if you live in Chicago, or anywhere like it, I suggest you consider arming yourself. I don’t say that lightly, and my close friends know I am not a “gun guy” – though I am a gun owner. But while Piers gets a lot right in his righteous anger over this atrocity, he is also notorius for anti-gun stances. Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the Nation. How’s that working out for them? So while I cannot, and would not advise anyone to break the law – I have to say, I’d never live there unarmed.

BTW, did you see that someone wrote Trump in chalk at Emory University!

No one’s coming to save you Chicago. Watch and see.