‘Justice for Cannon’ isn’t About Justice

‘Justice for Cannon’ isn’t About Justice

…But that doesn’t discredit the argument

American political conversations in 2020 are morbid: Black Lives Matter rallies around members of the community killed by police. Biden and his running mate are castigated in the context of a mass-incarceration system they helped to architect and implement. Calls to ‘save the children’ echo across social media tableaus among Epstein’s fallout. And, worst of all, we’re reckoning with the deaths of nearly 200,000 Americans as a result of America’s handling of the pandemic (and yes, Trump is a part of the problem, but the whole country dropped the ball on this one).

It’s not close to over. Over the past weeks, we’ve been saddled with another politicized tragedy: Cannon Hinnant, a five-year-old boy shot and killed by a neighbor while riding his bike through that neighbor’s yard.

Notice what I didn’t do there?

I didn’t frame the headline ‘White Boy Shot by Black Neighbor‘. If you’ve spent any time on social media you’ve likely observed flame wars over ‘say his name’ and ‘justice for Cannon’ and ‘his killer got justice, so what?’ What these memes and soundbites don’t take into account is the subtext for the arguments on both sides. As usual, emotions and platitudes are reigning supreme in the fight for politicizing race on either side of the political aisle.

Here’s why conservatives want people to ‘say his name’: because they want the media to treat a murder of this type in the same way they treat a murder perpetrated by the police. They want the headline ‘Black Man Executes White Child’ plastered all over mainstream media, and they want that because they think undue attention is given to racial discrepancies with regards to policing.

What the leftist brigades who push back against this politicization (with, I’d say, wholly good intentions) don’t get is exactly what the ‘justice for Cannon’ folks are arguing for. I don’t blame them, because no one is talking about the subtext. This reinforces the idea that the American right has a serious problem with articulation, though their ideas usually have merit (which I’ll get to soon). This is the reason figures like Ben Shapiro and Candace Owens are so popular; they articulate the reasoning behind the platitudes that most of the base rallies around.

The Conservative Problem of Articulation

The ‘Justice for Cannon’ movement is the worst case of stunted articulation I’ve seen thus far. It’s no wonder most people say that Cannon’s murder and BLM is a false equivalency: it is. And that’s because no one is willling to say what it is they really want the mainstream media to say: the races of those involved in the incident.

What the political right sees in this ‘reporting’ discrepancy is hypocrisy. I’d argue that such hypocrisy is the root of the issue, and that it’s rather sad we all have to bring a dead 5 year old into the mix to highlight it. But hear me out; hypocrisy does exist. No one wants to make this case about race, and that’s a good thing in my eyes. What much of the right is railing against is the fact that police violence doesn’t necessarily need to be made about race either.

I’d encourage our readers to listen to this podcast by Sam Harris. Harris (a democrat and atheist, I might add) breaks down the BLM movement with data about police brutality. His case is an icebath to society’s contemporary narrative: more white people are killed by police than black in both absolute numbers and as a percentage of the committed crime in America. It’s simply not true that more blacks are killed by cops than whites, and thus it’s hard to make the case that policing in this country is systemically racist (in terms of fatalities; excessive force is another matter, but is not by necessity an arm of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, which has at its rhetorical locus the fundamental idea that police are wanton with the lives of the black community).

In this context, it’s a little easier to understand the ‘Cannon’ phenomenon on the right. If police killings are about race, and it’s hard to say we’re not assuming they are, then what logic would defy the idea that Cannon’s murder was racially motivated as well? Why does the media pick and choose without definitive evidence or some modicum of data that would back up their claims of racially-motivated slaughtering of civilians by officers?

Though this argument would make sense in this context, it’s still counter-productive. That’s because the right would rather de-racialize the argument about policing than inflame it, but it’s been re-injected with racial tension by pointing out the hypocrisy in ‘white cop shoots black male’ without the subsequent headline for Cannon of ‘black man shoots white child’.

A Penchant for Hypocrisy

It’s great to point out liberal hypocrisy. It’s easy. And I don’t think the right is wrong in wanting to de-racialize the argument about policing, because police kill more white people than black and officer-involved shootings with non-white officers are more lethal for black individuals.

This is also why I (to the contrary opinions of many who mostly swing right) think that policing needs major reform and overhaul.

In my humble opinion, both sides of this rather specious argument are missing the mark. Yes, the left-wing media are hypocrites who race-bait when it serves their political base and refuse to do so when it doesn’t fit their narrative (which, as Sam Harris explained, is itself rather fraught if we’re using data, which DUH we should be). But the right’s subtextual argument isn’t very consistent with what the data ought to be informing them to do if they wish to discredit the race and policing argument: making it less about race. Demanding a ‘black man shoots white kid’ headline just seems like another platitude for owning the libs.

And again, don’t get me wrong here. I like to own the libs. But conservatives need owning as well: specifically, they’ve got to own up to their own hypocrisy. What the left gets wrong about many on the right is that they’re not caring people: they usually are. In fact, most people usually are. The vast majority of people are pretty decent, but they’re not in the news cycle. It’s simply without political clout to call for racialized headlines or to say that the right’s ‘Justice for Cannon’ argument is completely baseless. It’s not baseless, but it shouldn’t be energizing the republican base the way it is.

It may seem that I’m here making an argument for political independence. To that I say well, sure. No party has a monopoly on truth, and the idea that either does and that politics hasn’t evolved into us vs. them is the sort of idea that begets fascism OR communism. We all need to be a little more active in calling out pundits and political parties for their BS, of which there is a veritable mountain.

Which is why, as I’ll get to later, the ‘democrats must be a united front’ argument makes the whole party look like a bunch of slobbering, goosestepping charlatans… but we’ll get to that later. In the meantime, conservatives, listen to Sam Harris, get your data in order, and help to calm racial tensions in this country with facts instead of virulent pathos centered around a murdered boy.

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