Oklahoma: America’s Most Racist Cops?

From USA Today:

A police commander in Oklahoma is “under review” after he said that officers are shooting African Americans “less than we probably ought to be” during a local radio interview.

It’s true that police kill fewer black Americans than white Americans — because there are fewer black people for them to kill.

Taking population into account (i.e., per capita), the rate at which police kill blacks over the last seven years is more than three times the rate at which they kill whites (data):

One wonders whether Major Travis Yates (the police commander who suggests cops ought to be shooting African Americans more) knows this.

Oklahoma police kill people at a rate far higher than the national average (accounting for population, of course):

Nationwide, police kill white Americans at a rate of about 1 per million population per year. If you’re black in Oklahoma, the rate is more than 14 times as high. If Major Yates isn’t getting what he wants, it’s not because Oklahoma police aren’t trying.

Major Yates tries to make people think that cops kill more blacks because blacks are so often armed, by making another bold claim:

Yates also referenced The Washington Post’s real-time database, which has tracked fatal shootings by police officers since 2015, and said the data showed that a lesser percentage of police shootings have involved unarmed black Americans than unarmed white Americans.

Nationwide, police kill fewer unarmed black Americans than unarmed white Americans — because there are fewer black people for them to kill.

Taking population into account (i.e., per capita), the rate at which police kill unarmed blacks over the last seven years is more than three times the rate at which they kill unarmed whites.

In Oklahoma, that doesn’t seem to be enough. The rate per capita of police killing unarmed blacks is more than six times the rate at which they kill unarmed whites.

Oklahoma has a strong claim to the title: America’s most racist cops.

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26 responses to “Oklahoma: America’s Most Racist Cops?

  1. It’s generally good to have an open review of stupid things that people say. You can’t fix stupid, but it is possible to deconstruct it and understand it better. This particular OK cop probably just repeated what he heard on Fox broadcasts. Propaganda is effective. The Twain version: “A lie is halfway around the world before the truth has even got its boots on.” I am not sure if it is possible to unring the bell once it has has been heard halfway around the world. I hope this police officer loses his job over this remarkably stupid statement. It’s unlikely because job security is very good for police officers generally.

  2. So, are they now trying to reduce fatal shootings of African-Americans by using other methods of killing?

  3. “A lie is halfway around the world betore…”

    I moved halfway around the world partly because of something very like that ;-)

    The problem is very deep rooted. Truth is not optional for human civilization, it is a foundation. When the Reagan administration abandoned the fairness doctrine, didn’t replace it with anything and successive Republican efforts blocked proposed replacements in the 90’s it was pretty much over in the USA.

    “What are you, some kind of Boy Scout?” at a job interview in the financial district of NYC in 1991.

    Honesty is a value we abandoned without understanding what we actually were giving up. Trust is a value that is essential and was discarded as though it had no value at all – because to a Republican attempting to establish a permanent minority government in the USA – honesty is a handicap.

    I can well believe that Oklahoma has this attitude. I am glad to be in Wellington NZ.

  4. I am envious of your move to NZ. I would do it if I could.

  5. It’s not just the kill rate; the bias is embedded in the justice system at all levels in all jurisdictions.
    America may no longer be executing kids so small they have to sit on books for their heads to reach the electrodes , such as George Stinney, or arresting black boys under 10 for rape because a white girl kissed them on the cheek – google Kissing Case – but it has not come very far in its treatment of minorities & the poor even when the cameras are rolling.

  6. Phil Scadden

    Well police killing here in NZ, are still very low (not as low as say UK), they have been increasing. I am glad experiment with armed police squads has been abandoned even they never fired a shot. On the other hand, gun crime is increasing to tougher for the police.

  7. The key first step is independent and open monitoring and recording of all deaths, complaints and events of significance.

  8. Surely the second chart is per year, not per day as indicated by the Y axis title. Or am I misunderstanding something?

    [Response: Yes, you’re right.]

  9. I imagine that this comment will be controversial, so let me preface it by saying that I *do* believe that there is systemic bias in policing, that I *do* believe that black Americans are being killed by police at a far higher rate than white Americans, and that I *do* believe that policing in the US desperately needs major reforms. I am too old to attend the protests during this pandemic, but I have watched them with pride and admiration. So, with that our of the way:

    Yates’s comments were poorly phrased, poorly timed, and spectacularly tone deaf, but I don’t believe he was saying that Oklahoma police actually “ought to” go out and start shooting more African-Americans, which seems to be the common interpretation. I think he was just making (poor) use of statistics.

    Permit me to rephrase what I *think* he was trying to say: “Based on crime rates and the overall rate at which crimes result in police shootings, we would expect X shootings per year of African-Americans, but there are actually 24% fewer than that.”

    To be sure, I think this analysis is entirely bogus. For one thing, I suspect that African-Americans are far more likely than whites to be suspected of being involved in a crime, and that by itself blows the whole thing up.

    But my point is that many seem to be interpreting his comments to mean “We should definitely be shooting more African-Americans,” and I don’t think that’s what he meant at all. (In fact, he responded “That is absolutely nuts” when asked if he believed that black Americans weren’t being shot enough.)

    • Oh, so you are saying that he is an innumerate, bigoted, insensitive lout and not a genocidal maniac. Well, I suppose that’s a lesser charge, but that’s still a lot of black people dead. Look regardless of whether one’s motivations for doing nothing to improve things are utterly inhuman or just really, really bad, it things don’t change, more people of color die. Intent is not magic.

      • “Oh, so you are saying that he is an innumerate, bigoted, insensitive lout and not a genocidal maniac.”

        Yeah, that’s how I read it, too. I think Chris is right, FWIW, but as you say, the ‘lesser included charge’ changes no realities on the ground–except perhaps in casting yet another sidelight on the problem of bias. After all, the Major is a high ranking police official at the local level; if he thinks there isn’t a problem, how zealous are those under his command going to be in addressing it?

      • “that’s still a lot of black people dead.”

        Obviously. This is exactly the sort of response I tried to head off. Where did I say anything that disagrees with this?

        I simply think that arguing against a misinterpretation is unhelpful and a waste of time. Argue against what people actually say, not against what they didn’t say. That’s all.

      • Chris,
        And you miss my point. Whether he is a genocidal lunatic, or merely a racist, innumerate asshole, he is trying to justify the status quo. The status quo is fatal to people of color. I am sure not all of the guards at Aushwitz were utterly terrible people either–but they still killed a lot of Jews. Ultimately, if you have a system that has severe effects for a subset of the population, the reasons you give for not changing it really don’t matter. The effect is the same and as an apologist for the system, if you don’t stop the genocide, you are responsible for the genocide.

  10. I hope I would not be misunderstood for this, but I will take that systematic cop violence is as acute problem as systematic racism when look for the police killings (and racism is bad, really really bad). However, when you have a group of people, who are prone to violate human rights with support of institutions, it should also be expected, that marginalized, helpless people will be more tortured. And while I do find that fighting racism is the utmost important issue, I think that diminishing police violence might actually reduce racism induced harm to citizens – maybe it would be worth to check correlation between rate of killings vs. rate of black to white killings.

  11. Um, not really wanting to be a contrarian, but, alas, it would be useful to have uncertainty intervals about the stated numbers so people really know what’s being compared.

    Sorry, I can’t help it, it’s an occupational obsession.

    • You’re not alone, ecoquant. Skepticism is part of my DNA, and it has largely been Tamino who’s learned me something about statistics and how to apply a critical eye to analyses. I’m sure I can remember a post or two of Tamino’s urging the necessity of error bars.

      My American cousins, what extraordinary times you are going through right now. I wish you safe passage through this period, and hope for a positive outcome in November and beyond.

    • It’s my occupational obsession too. But I made an exception in this case because I’m hoping the audience will be much broader, and I don’t want the visual impact of the message diluted. Regular readers enjoy the details and the rigor (so do I), but now we’re watching people die and we know who the murderers are.

      The numbers, nationally and in Oklahoma, are statistically significant (as in “no fucking doubt”), which I’d guess you already knew (this ain’t your first rodeo). I just wanted the most stark contrast I between how cops treat white folks and black folks (and hispanics too).

  12. Mark Harrigan

    Why is it that you think that the correct way to analyse this by raw population per capita figures?

    Surfers are far more likely to die from shark attack than are golfers. Indeed while it is often quoted that you are more likely to die from a lightning strike in the US than a shark attack (1 in 3,748,067 are the lifetime odds given for a shark fatality, compared to 1 in 79,746 for death by lighting, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.) This is problematic, as these numbers are derived from dividing the total U.S. population—not the total U.S. surfing population—by the number of annual deaths from shark attacks or lightning strikes, divided again by life expectancy.

    Of course in this case it is obvious that the underlying reason is the likelihood of an encounter – not simply one’s prevalence in the population

    Similarly, across the US, men are more than 20x likely to be killed by the police than women (https://www.statista.com/statistics/585149/people-shot-to-death-by-us-police-by-gender/ ) so on a per capita basis – using your logic – there must be a gigantic systemic sexist bias by the police toward shooting men and not shooting women since men are slightly less prevalent in the overall population?

    Of course we recognise this as absurd – after all while women make up a slight majority of the population they are vastly UNDER represented in criminal statistics – in other words they have far fewer ENCOUNTERS that could lead to death by police shooting.

    Unless and until you analyse the data by actual police encounters based on ethnic groupings I suggest you misconstrue what is really going on.

    No doubt there are issues of race ( poverty, single black families, unemployment, the list goes on) that disproportionately affect the black community. But simplistic jingoistic accusations of racism against the police force blind us to seeing the real underlying issues (and therefore how to address them).

    Higher aggregate crime rates lead to more encounters with police officers overall which increases the likelihood that a proportion of those encounters will get out of hand. Especially when police in the US face an armed populace and are not trained to de-escalate. Entrenched socioeconomic disparities should concern us all, and are as intolerable as cop murders. But the idea that the police murder out of racist animus is much less clear than we are often led to suppose and that your post (wrongly in my view) reinforces.

    I am sure you, like me and most of the world, are extremely distressed by the recent deaths at the hands of police. But continued (and in my view unfounded) accusations of widespread police racism blind us to actually addressing the underlying causes.

    In the US the police force is too often overarmed, undertrained, and low on empathy. Some police officers are surely racist and act like it. But it does not follow that white cops routinely kill black people in tense situations out of racist animus. Nor does it follow that the statement by the Oklahoma Police chief was racist – in fact if you unpack it, it might just be his rather poor way of addressing the issue I have highlighted.

    I have followed your posts on all manner of topics for some time and I laud your statistical literacy and data driven approach – but this time I believe you have looked at the data erroneously.

    [Response: I expected this to happen. As soon as we point out a problem, the denier mentality calls the data or analysis into question — without having done the work. Do you think I haven’t — already? Do you think I haven’t done a literature search to see what others have come up with — already? Those who *do* “do the work” repeatedly prove that the reasons promoted by doubters are full of shit — then publish their results in an obscure journal.

    I’m not saying you are a “police racism denier.” But you are promoting that mentality — without doing the work. You did more than just “ask questions.”

    So let me reiterate what I said before. I wanted the most stark, brutally blatant portrayal of the difference between how police treat black folks and white folks. My graphs say it pretty well. If it makes you uncomfortable … good.]

    • Mark Harrigan, How nice that you and I, as a white, probably well off, male Americans have the luxury to sit back and peruse the data in such a leisurely manner. Unfortunately, once we have taken our time and sifted for correlations and hypotheses and causes, what we will find is that our analysis doesn’t matter. This is because ALL of the potential causes for this phenomenon come back to either overt or covert systemic racism.
      Is it poverty–well, America has spent 400 years systematically depriving black Americans of the fruits of their labor, or, when they managed to build anything, we burned it down. And there’s nothing like a lynching to suppress business in the black part of town.
      Is it that black people live in poor areas? Thank nearly a century of redlining and transit policy for that–as well as 60 years of white flight to the suburbs, the exurbs and finally back to the newly gentrified city centers.
      Is it that black people are more likely to spend time in prison–lots of research there that shows differential rates of arrest and incarceration for black and white people committing the same offense.
      Is it the militarization of police departments in the urban centers where minorities are more likely to live? That, and the death of community policing in these areas (though not the burbs) was also policy.

      In the end, it is not that all police are racist (though some certainly are). It is not that minorities are more likely to commit crimes. It is not because of poverty or merely because of lack of opportunity. It is because the police are set up to keep order and protect property from an underclass of Others, who they don’t know, whom they perceive as “different” and “dangerous”. This endangers the communities–especially those of color. It endangers the police, because it deprives them of human intelligence and of knowledge of the true threats.

      Who benefits? Those with property to protect–obscene amounts of property, wrested from society. Not venture capitalists, but vulture capitalists. Just imagine what might happen to them if the police–who take great risks for low pay and little thanks–got to know how much they have in common with the people they police.

      To serve and protect–it all comes down to who one serves and who are they protecting.

  13. Susan Anderson

    For people who are not familiar with it, it might be useful to review the militarization of police that has escalated since 9/11. They are being trained to shoot to kill without conscience, as in war. Also, for those unfamiliar, it involves the power and bias of police unions, who often overturn police administrations’ decisions. Another blank that’s being filled in is white knowledge of historical massacres and the nonstop push for racist action and laws which persist to this day. Tulsa. Wilmington. Reconstruction rolled back. Discrimination overturned in the 60s and 70s by people willing to risk their lives, Miscegenation laws rolled back. Access to housing and decent jobs gradually appearing. Trump’s overt recruitment of violent racists. Profiteering in private prisons and the school to prison pipeline.

    What most white people don’t seem to get is that black people, particularly young men, face discrimination and violence every day. Living while black. Driving while black. It’s risky.

  14. OT, but not really:


    At its deepest core, climate change is social injustice: racial, economic, and generational. Like racist violence, like economic injustice, it kills–less spectacularly, it’s true, but almost certainly in far greater numbers than the former at least.

    And like those two, part of the solution is listening to those who suffer the effects, and helping enable them to come to the table where decisions are made–ie., taking our metaphorical knee off of their necks.

  15. Mark, IMO you are fundamentally misunderstanding the nature of racism.

    You say:

    But continued (and in my view unfounded) accusations of widespread police racism blind us to actually addressing the underlying causes… it does not follow that white cops routinely kill black people in tense situations out of racist animus.

    But that ‘racist animus’ isn’t the essence of racism, but rather of racial prejudice–a different, albeit inter-related, phenomenon.

    Racism proper refers to a system: ideological, economic, sociological, political, cultural. It means, among other things, that a police officer need not feel racist animus to behave much like most other police officers in certain situations and to use deadly force when it really wasn’t necessary. You yourself mention some of the factors involved:

    …police in the US face an armed populace and are not trained to de-escalate… [they are] too often overarmed, undertrained, and low on empathy.

    The police are what they are because of our collective choices. If the populace is armed, and the police trained and equipped to prioritize the use of force over de-escalation, etc., that is because we have allowed it. We have elected officials who brag about being “tough on crime,” with the result that we incarcerate more people than any other nation on the planet. We have allowed the evisceration of social safety nets, and perpetuated for many decades now the grossest inequality in education and health care. We’ve put toxic emitters in poor, usually non-white, communities because they didn’t have the wherewithal to resist. We’ve instituted racially and economically discriminatory judicial, administrative, and drug policies that have helped produce a highly racialized penal system–one which in turn makes black men look ‘dangerous’ to police–in fact, to much of society. Then we bemoan how many ‘encounters’ black men have with police.

    Why? Surely in part because of our history. Violence was always the primary tool of racialized oppression: violence tore people from their lives and kept them subdued as they were transported across the Atlantic; made them choose between life or a (usually very brief) liberty; forced them to give up children at an owner’s whim; kept them in deliberate ignorance and then used that ignorance as justification for denying them the most basic of human rights. When, at last, slavery was abolished–again, through violence, be it noted–violence was used to reinstitute it in all but name, as it became the lynch-pin–pun very sarcastically intentional!–of the Jim Crow era. It broke labor unions in Carolina cottonmills; it broke nascent black capitalists in Tulsa; it did everything it could to break black hearts and spirits in thousands of places across this nation, from Rosewood, FL, to St. Clair County, Michigan. We speak of “the lynching era,” but in reality, as we’ve come to see, it’s never quite ended. We’re *still* in it.

    Why? I’ve come to believe that the short answer is this:

    To preserve extant structures of privilege.

    All that violence was in service to the ideal of ‘whiteness.’ For a long time, it was quite explicit–read the Constitutions of some CSA states.


    But the fact that overt racism has become less socially acceptable in the decades since the Civil Rights era does not mean that the inherent power structures of racism have all crumbled away. Policing has never *not* been directed primarily at the poor and especially the non-white. The pay-for-play justice system has never afforded them much of a shot at real justice, especially when public defenders are at best grossly overworked and under-resourced. And while a few exceptional individuals are always able to ‘make it’ despite all the educational and social barriers placed in their way, it’s not the exceptional individuals whose outcomes we should be focusing on.

    None of this relies much on individualized ‘racial animus.’ Partly, it keeps going on social inertia. But in considerable measure, it keeps going on the measures power takes in seeking to retain power. There’s a very good reason that the slogan is “Law and order“. That “order” is extant privilege.

  16. Tamino, is there data about the color of the police officers had shot? If yes, is there a difference?

    • Henry Herbert

      I was wondering whether the excess shooting deaths are (partly) due to income levels. I came across this article. It doesn’t address that issue, nor the effect of police ethnicity, but might be interesting in itself.

      Being made aware of systemic racism is useful. Altering it appears difficult. I applaud Tamino’s
      The article is from PLOS I think:
      A Multi-Level Bayesian Analysis of Racial Bias in Police Shootings at the County-Level in the United States, 2011–2014 by Cody T. Ross


      • There’s an extensive literature on this, e.g.,

        C. T. Ross (same author as above), “Digging deeper: population-level racial disparities, exposure to police victimisation and psychological trauma”, Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences (2017), 26, 478–480.

        D. Hemenway, J. Berrigan, D. Azrael, et al., “Fatal police shootings of civilians, by rurality”, Preventive Medicine (2020), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2020.106046

        A. C. Gray, K. F. Parker, “Race, structural predictors, and police shootings: are there differences across official and unofficial accounts of lethal force?”, Crime & Delinquency, 2019; 65:26-45.

        and their references.

        There are also disparities (Hemenway, above, op cit) between urban and rural shootings by police. Firearms deaths overall are higher in urban centers, but police shootings of people of color are higher in urban areas, but shootings of whites in rural areas are higher, controlled for the two subpopulation densities.

  17. Tamino, with your permission I’d like to cross-post my all-too-lengthy remarks on Facebook today. The background is that I’ve been a daily report on the progress–if that is the word to use–of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the Juneteenth edition didn’t go quite as planned, and I thought it might be of interest here, in light of recent discussions. Text follows:

    Happy Juneteenth from Lake Wateree! This Friday morning is bright but just slightly overcast, with the finches fluttering, and the lake still clear of the coming weekend boat traffic. It’s fitting, perhaps, for the day–neither all this, nor all that, with life proceeding somehow, and change hovering in the air.

    This is supposed to be a Covid analysis. But it’s not just any day, so let me digress.

    Juneteenth, for those who may have missed it, is the name of the holiday honoring the arrival in Galveston, Texas, on June 19th, 1865, of Union Army Major General Gordon Granger. Texas was a slave state, and an important member of the Confederacy, but had experienced little military action upon its own soil. That meant that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 had had no practical effect in Texas, which by this time is estimated to have been home to a quarter of a million slaves.

    Granger, therefore, wasted no time in proclaiming:

    “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

    Juneteenth began as a regional celebration by, and for, African Americans. Accordingly, it’s been largely outside the experience of white Americans, especially those outside the old South. Even within the South, I don’t think knowledge of it has been very deep among whites. I know I’ve been vaguely aware of it for years, but did not know the story in any detail until this year.

    But here’s my take: I want to celebrate Juneteenth with enthusiasm, because it marks an important milestone in the progressive, if uneven, removal of slavery and its direct descendant, institutionalized racial oppression, from the moral escutcheon of this country. These are days in which we are learning, ineluctably, just how racist we really are.

    That racism is as visible as the knee torturing George Floyd to death in plain sight on a Minneapolis street corner–and as visible as the MAGA rally originally planned for today in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tulsa was the site of arguably the most heinous, systematic attack on African American communities in US history–it even featured the dropping of incendiaries on the black Greenwood district–then known as “Black Wall Street”–from airplanes. The 99th anniversary of that battle was May 31st.

    But this is supposed to be a Covid analysis. Covid, too, is racialized, of course. That’s become a truism: to be black in America is a dismayingly reliable proxy for increased Covid risk. Partly that’s because there are an awful lot of black folks on “front lines” of essential services. Partly it’s because of glaring inequalities in access to medical services. But whatever the reasons, that fact should engender in all of us a burning desire to do better by all Americans. “All lives matter,” right? But they don’t, really–not until black lives are treated as if they matter, every day of the year.

    This is supposed to be a Covid analysis. I’ve done the work; I’ve entered and inspected the data. I’ve even started writing, as you are experiencing. But I can’t seem to really focus on those numbers this morning.

    I can tell you that things don’t look great in the US, Covid-wise. The headline today isn’t a lot different than anything we’ve been seeing lately:

    #1 US: 1.3% daily increase rate; 2,264,220 cumulative cases/120,691 dead

    It’s not wonderful that the daily increase rate has ticked up from 0.9% on June 14th to the current value. It’s bad that we’re now more than a quarter of the way from our second million infections to our third million. And it’s tragic that we are working on our third Viet Nam’s-worth of fatalities. It’s no source of pride that we once again ‘won’ the daily competition with Brazil to see who could post the most new cases of Covid-19–27,924 to 23,050, if anyone actually cares.

    But far worse is that this morning’s numbers solidify the hints that *the epidemic is getting worse,* not better. I’ve been saying for days in these analyses that there were suggestions of an uptick in infections. But yesterday’s new cases came in at the highest number since May 21st. They lock in the highest weekly peak value seen since then–and the low points of that weekly cycle have been increasing, too. Finally, I note that the very bottom of the new cases record since the ‘takeoff’ in March came on May 11, now more than a month ago. It appears that the throttling of the epidemic in New York and other early centers is now being outweighed by its growth elsewhere–largely, though not entirely, here in the South.

    Per the modeling tracker RTlive, this morning sees 18 states with transmission rates above the critical value of 1 (which indicates a growing epidemic). Of those, 9 are members of the Old Confederacy–or ten if you include Arizona, then a slave Territory controlled by the South. The remaining Confederate states, Kentucky and Tennessee, top the list remaining, with RT values of 0.99.


    Here in South Carolina, we logged 987 new cases on the 17th, our most recent full day of data. How long before 1,000 cases a day is ‘the new normal?’

    But even worse than that is that our President, and apparently an appallingly large number of our fellow citizens, don’t even pretend to care any longer. We have the worst health crisis of my not inconsiderable lifetime in progress, with all the losses enumerated above–and the President is going to a divisive, symbolically charged location to give a campaign rally which, he has been at pains to indicate, must be as large as possible. Will there even be a single word about the epidemic?

    Unlikely. He is “over it,” and has taken no identifiable action to suppress the epidemic for weeks now. On the contrary, his actions, including pronouncements and the example of the “bully pulpit”–a phrase that takes on a whole new meaning in the case of our so-called President–and not the least rallies like tomorrow’s in Tulsa, and even more drastically, the coming Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, and its sorry sage, seem calculated to make the epidemic worse. After all, the Tulsa rally has reportedly seen a million requests for tickets.

    You see what I mean? Even though this is supposed to be a Covid analysis, my disgust, rage and fear boil over in political indignation. America is now in a place where we are unable even to take care of our own with the effectiveness we so often boast of–or used to, at least. And we seem to be far less than fully aware of that fact.


    Is it because we have learned to worship the idol of profit before all else–albeit under the Newspeak-worthy anodyne
    of “the economy”? Remember Texas Lieutenant-Governor Dan Patrick on this topic?

    ““No one reached out to me and said, ‘as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’” Patrick said. “And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.””


    There’s a lot to be said about that quote, but this is, after all, supposed to be a Covid analysis. So I’ll just note that apparently yes, we *are* supposed to put ‘the economy’ above life.

    Is it because we have learned to worship the idol of a “liberty” from responsibility, consideration, from simple common sense? I don’t go out into society without a mask, any more than I would wipe my nose on someone else’s sleeve, or defecate on their lawn. Yet these actions, shocking though they would be, are far less dangerous than going maskless in public places. But it’s ‘our right’ do do so!

    Is it because we have learned to worship the idol of our own status, whatever it may be in life, deeming all that we have to have been earned by us and hence “deserved”? Does it seem little enough to us? Imperilled? Do we cling all the tighter, and resent other’s successes, deeming them “unearned” because their efforts are not immediately visible to us? In short, do we worship an idol of the status quo?

    Well, this is supposed to be a Covid analysis, and so far, after hundreds of words, I’ve presented just one set of numbers.

    Yeah, I’m thinking about Covid this morning. But today, at least, I can’t help but connect it to race, and inequality, and yes, climate change and environmental devastation, and all the idols of the mind that we struggle with–or succumb to. Covid, and climate change, and environmental devastation, kill.

    So screw it. This is supposed to be a Covid analysis, but all I really want to say is this:


    136 days to the election.