Paul R. Lehman, Officer’s letter shows bigotry as part of the European American Psyche

April 29, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, criminal activity, discrimination, Disrespect, education, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, justice, law, Media and Race, police force, race, racism, social justice system, whites | 1 Comment
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If there has been any question about ethnic bigotry being a fabric of the European American (white) psyche we need look no further than the letter written by Stephen Loomis, President of the Cleveland Patrolman’s Association, regarding the family of Tamir Rice. Loomis’ letter shows an attitude of ethnic arrogance, ethnic supremacy, and ethnic bigotry among other things.

The first example of arrogance appears when the letter is addressed to the “Media” instead of the Rice family. The letter is sent to the media in an effort to garner sympathy and support from people like-minded to Loomis. No expression of sorrow or compassion is offered to the Rice family except in the last sentence of the first paragraph: “Our hearts continue to be with them.” The “them,” however, refers to “the Rice family as well as our involved officers.” So, rather than writing directly to the Rice family, Loomis writes to the media and in doing so shows a lack of respect and personal concern.

In a display of an attitude of both arrogance and superiority Loomis suggest that the Rice family and their lawyers lack enough intelligence to know how to manage the settlement they received from the City of Cleveland: “We can only hope the Rice family and their attorneys will use a portion of the settlement to help educate the youth of Cleveland….” The pause here in the quote is to accentuate the psyche of Loomis and how the responsibility of the law enforcement agency to “Protect, Serve,  and Defend” is shifted to the Rice family and the public rather than to the police: “…in the dangers associated with the mishandling of both real and facsimile firearms.”One wonders if there is a correct way for young children to handle a toy gun.

What Loomis said in that sentence is that parents of African American youths should not let their children play outdoors in a public park with toy guns or pistols because the Cleveland Police are not intelligent enough or educated and trained well enough to assess a situation involving  children playing with a toy gun, because they might shoot them. The inference here is that Tamir and his family is at fault for letting him play in the park with his toy gun and therefore, is responsible for his death.

One wonders why the responsibilities of the law enforcers are never brought into question in Loomis’ comments. One suggestion is that Loomis does not believe the police bear any responsibility in the death of Tamir, and that his death is in part due to the negligence of his parents for letting him be a young boy playing the in public park with a toy gun. If someone was to challenge Loomis’ attitude, his first order of business would be defensive. Dr. Robin DiAngelo describes the attitude of a European American with respect to ethnic bigotry. Speaking as an European American she stated: “Socialized into a deeply internalized sense of superiority and entitlement that we are either or not consciously aware of or can never admit to ourselves, we become highly fragile in conversations about race….Thus, we perceive any attempt to connect us to the system of racism as very unsettling and unfair moral offence.”

What we can perceive in Loomis’ letter is a form of ethnic bias that is commonly referred to as “using the race card,” or “race baiting.” However, this race baiting is done by Loomis in an effort to draw support to his law enforcement agency. Because European Americans have been socially conditioned to a biased psyche that is viewed as normal, recognizing their own bias is near impossible. Therefore, when we read the Loomis letter we find no indication of his understanding the fact that his comments are reflective of someone ignorant of offering proper respect to a family that has lost a young son at the hands of police. What we can clearly see in the letter is someone looking to pass the responsibility for the actions of the police on to the young victim and his family.

In an effort to add arrogance to ignorance whether consciously or not, the reference by Loomis for the Rice family to help in educating Cleveland’s youth shows a lack of class, compassion, and sophistication. The statement also indicates that the Cleveland police force is not sufficiently prepared to do its job correctly and efficiently if it has to request aid from one of its victims in order to get the education and training it should already have.

As members of society we often take it for granted that we are all in agreement with respect to things like laws being administered fairly and punishment for breaking the law being just. Unfortunately, as we can see in the Loomis letter that our sense of justice and fairness can be called into question when we come face to face with someone who has been conditioned to think that being bias is normal. In talking about ethnic fairness and justice DiAngelo underscores the reason for the biased psyche: “The systemic and institutional control allows those of us who are white in North America to live in a social environment that protects and insulates us from race-based stress. We have organized society to reproduce and reinforce our racial interests and perspectives. Further, we are centered in all matters deemed normal, universal, benign, neutral and good.”

The challenge we face in American society is to recognize that many Americans operate daily under a biased perspective without realizing it, and that we must work to change that perspective if society is to function fairly and justly for all people. Loomis must be educated to understand that his letter does little to resolve the problem of police incompetence or community relations.  Since he is president of the Cleveland police union, he represents a large number of individuals who come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, so he must be aware of the fact that all his members may not agree with his letter and the attitude it projects. He needs help in learning to recognize the bigotry that is part of his normal perception of ethnic Americans so he can be a true representative of not only the people in his organization, but also of the society for which he works.

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  1. I was deeply troubled by Loomis’s remarks, and I shudder to think about how many police unions across the country share his arrogance.


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