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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The racism card

Today I had a remarkable and unexpected discussion while having a haircut. Earlier that day I had received a suggestion for a new topic. Not an easy suggestion though. That topic had indeed crossed my mind but I didn't know how to approach it. My favourite hairdresser did. She made some excellent points during my – mutually agreed - overdue hair cut.

My hairdresser is in her early to mid thirties and from mixed Dutch - Philippine roots. She is quite pretty, quite chatty and quite outspoken and never with a negative approach. I like her.

Somehow I managed to change my initial topic towards police violence. She was defending the cops who had arrested a tourist during a (music) festival. Allegedly, this guy had several times suggested to a group of police officers that he was carrying a gun. Allegedly, again, to him this was a joke but not to the group of police officers. Several of them arrested him. Several hours later he died.

The previous paragraph would probably not have resulted in subsequent violent demonstrations in The Hague if the guy had been white. The victim was a black tourist from Aruba however. Also see coverage in NL Times. Both the Aruban community and the Arab and black communities in The Hague protested against this copycat of white American police brutality against blacks.

Nevertheless, my hairdresser kept defending the cops while I expressed my doubts. Having seen the videos on the 8pm news myself, I can hardly blame anyone arguing that the arrest was over the top. Four to five men sitting on someone not even resisting arrest?? Nevertheless, my hairdresser had some valid points in their defense. What if he had had a gun? Allegedly, he repeatedly reached for his pockets while talking (joking) to the police officers. Should they have ignored the possibility that he might actually carry a gun? Nevertheless, we both agreed that the outcome was sad. 

I must add that the police officers clearly lost (part of) their credibility by officially declaring that he had become unwell DURING his transport in the police van, while video images clearly showed that he was dragged unconsciously (?) to the police van with half of his body sweeping over the ground. Even the public prosecutor and the Minister/Secretary of Justice had difficulty concealing their unbelief with the official police statements while still maintaining a neutral stance: the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

The aftermath of this unfortunate event was a different one. Once again, the racism card was used to attack the ones involved in this process. The Dutch protesters from Arab and African descent were once again quite quick to assume their usual victim roles by arguing that their skin colour is the sole cause of continued police harassment. My half Asian hair dresser was fierce in her attack on these people who always use their skin colour as a shield, or a weapon, or both. And she was right in doing so. Skin colour is not an excuse. Neither for police brutality, nor for using the racism card whenever convenient to end discussions.

“To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavouring to convert an atheist by scripture.” Thomas Paine, 1737-1809