14 True Things

Heather Heying
5 min readJun 3, 2020

All of these things can be true. All of these things are true:

1. Systemic racism has a long history throughout the world, and the legacy of slavery in the U.S. is a particularly salient example.

2. In the U.S., we were making progress against racism, both at the societal and individual level. We were not there. We were not “post-race.” But we were making progress. The legacy of the Civil Rights era meant that it was ever more shameful and embarrassing to be publicly racist, and therefore more difficult to be privately so, as well. We were making progress until the last several years, when a perfect storm arrived. Just two of the parts of that perfect storm are these:

— First, by the early — mid 2010s, everyone was carrying a camera in their pocket. Video footage of acts of police brutality brought that violence into everyone’s living room. There was now no denying it. The flip side of this is that the visceral anecdote will always be more powerful than the dispassionate statistic. So long as any grotesque incidents exist, even if police and policing improve dramatically, it will now be even more difficult to point to the hopefulness of the second truth.

— The second of many parts of the perfect storm, which has eroded the advances of the Civil Rights movement, are the ascendancy of woke culture, intersectional thinking and Critical Theory. They showed up first in colleges and universities, spread into Schools of Education, from there into K-12 schools, and into cubicles, journalism, media, the arts, beyond. This thinking holds, among other ridiculous tenets, that we have original sin based on the color of our skin, and that there is no escaping it.

3. Black lives matter.

4. The organization that has come to be known as Black Lives Matter does not seem to be the upstanding, honorable organization that its tag line would suggest.

5. Emotion is high. The reaction to George Floyd’s brutal and senseless killing was and is emotional, and that is not inherently a bad thing. Reason and considered analysis are not the only ways to communicate in the world. Showing raw emotion is sharp and intense and harsh and hard to look away from. It can therefore effect change.

6. The months of lockdown — which were and in some cases may continue to be necessary for public health — made people less emotionally resilient than they had been before, more fragile. Furthermore, seeing people in so-called “red states” party over Memorial Day weekend, without social distancing, may have contributed to the raw emotional out-pouring by some “blue state” protesters. This is no justification, just an observation of factors contributing to the mass protests.

7. Protest, and the right to protest, are fundamental to democracy.

8. Riot is not protest. Looting is not protest. We have no right to riot or to loot, and indeed, rioting and looting are anathema to democracy.

9. Trump is correct that antifa is inciting violence, and that that violence is counter-productive to having a peaceable society.

10. White nationalists may also be involved in inciting violence on American streets now, and Trump has, in the past, engaged in dog-whistles to white nationalists. Furthermore, his explicit mention of the Second Amendment in his (mostly scripted) June 1 press conference can easily be interpreted as a call to arms. He said: “I am mobilizing all available, federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting to end the destruction and arson and to protect the rights of law abiding Americans, including your second amendment rights.” What is the Second Amendment doing in that sentence in particular? Is it a call to civil war? If this is what it is, it is beyond anti-patriotic. It may even be treason.

11. Some cops are racist thugs. Some dentists are racist thugs. No society should allow racist thugs to rise to positions of power. Those racist thugs who are policemen, given their job, are able to do more damage to others than are the racist thugs who are dentists or grocery clerks, garbagemen or electricians.

12. Most cops are not racist thugs. Most cops — like most dentists and grocery clerks, garbagemen and electricians — are honest people with an interest in doing good.

13. Spreading blanket pronouncements of the uniform evil of some demographic — such as ACAB (“All Cops Are Bastards”), or the inherent and unresolvable racism of all white people — is not just untrue, but bad for the cause it is supposedly for. Force good and honest people to take loyalty oaths, or make an admission of original sin when none existed, and some of those good and honest people will become less good, and less honest. Others will wake up to the hypocrisy at the core of a movement that was supposed to do good, and wonder where to turn.

14. Finally: Young Americans are in debt, their educations have failed them, good health care is a distant memory, and the prospect of owning a house is a pipe dream. Many younger Americans were raised on legal pharmaceuticals that have rendered them psychologically disorganized, unable to track or control their own emotional states, or to read that of others. At the same time, our economy has become obsessed with making us into consumers. But consumption does not provide meaning. We will all find true meaning in different ways — some of us will be driven to create, some to discover. Some will be driven to heal, others to communicate, or to build, or grow or synthesize. Some will find meaning in the protesting of actual injustice, in the righting of wrongs. There are so many sources of meaning to be had. Instead, we are being controlled and corralled, sold to and lied to, and divided. Are humans deeply tribal and competitive? Yes. Are humans deeply collaborative? Yes. Let us recognize our shared humanity AND celebrate our individual differences. We can do both, and the best leaders facilitate us doing just that.

MLK delivers his “I Have A Dream” speech

I presented this at the beginning of Dark Horse Livestream #20, which aired on June 2, 2020, an on-going series of discussions between Bret Weinstein and me. These conversations remain up on Bret’s YouTube channel, and are also available as podcasts soon thereafter.

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Heather Heying

Seeker and communicator of truths. Rhymes with flying.