unz | Among the many factors that contribute to death is one that is scarcely noticed: a deadly self-conception. The classic example is the person who defines himself as a fearsome, brave warrior anxious to risk everything—including almost certain death—for personal glory. The pursuit of pleasure can also be self-destructive. For example, in the 1970s and 80’s thousands of young gay males came to believe that being authentically gay entailed engaging in promiscuous unprotected anal sex.
Unfortunately, a similar death-inviting self-image currently flourishes among countless young, underclass black males. Central is resisting police authority, energetically fighting back, or at least fleeing if arrested regardless of circumstances. Eric Garner was the classic example. Surely he must have realized the futility of escape since he was surrounded by multiple police officers and even if he did manage to momentarily break free, he would have been quickly apprehended (and the resisting arrest effort would compound his punishment). Did Michael Brown reasonably expect that wrestling with Officer Wilson and shooting him with the policeman’s own gun was a prudent strategy to escape the relatively minor charges of robbery and obstructing traffic? What is the benefit of taunting and mocking police officers when they try to arrest you? In other words, rational calculations in such police encounters cannot justify the risky misbehavior. Rather, a cultural ethos exists, perhaps comparable to WW II Japanese banzai charges where certain death in battle outshined cowardly surrender.
This “resistance” mentality might even be viewed as an anti-law enforcement “lifestyle.” It is reflected in today’s “ghetto look” where youngsters purposely imitate those who’ve been arrested–beltless trousers, untied shoes, and a scowling angry demeanor. Popular tee-shirts now declare “Snitches Get Stiches.” The anti-cop message is ubiquitous in rap and hip-hop music. Twenty-five years ago the group N.W. A. released what became a classic—“Fuck tha Police” and it has created a multi-million dollar musical genre ever sensitive to the latest incident of alleged police brutality. Following Ferguson anti-police songs were released by G-Unit, Public Enemy, the Game among several others. Indeed, some blacks in Ferguson now celebrate Michael Brown as a hero. And, of course, there’s the anti-cop Black Lives Matter—fry them like bacon–Movement ever anxious to portray those killed by resisting arrest saint-like martyrs.