I read an opinion piece this week by liberal writer Joan Walsh decrying the presumed jubilation of "white America" and the media over a mother's public spanking of her son for participating in the Baltimore riots.
Walsh quotes the mother, Toya Graham, as acknowledging that she "just lost it" when she saw her son on camera and went into action to get him off the streets.
Walsh writes: "Her moment of losing it made her a hero to much of white America -- and not just to the right. Coast to coast, the media is hyping Graham as 'Hero Mom' and her on-camera beating as 'Tough Love.'" She calls it "heartbreaking."
Walsh continues, "Anyone white who's applauding Graham's moment of desperation, along with the white media figures who are hyping her 'heroism,' is essentially justifying police brutality, and saying the only way to control black kids is to beat the s--- out of them." Hysteria much, Ms. Walsh?
Walsh acknowledges that she's aware many African-Americans are praising Graham, as well, but says her criticism isn't aimed at them. Their situation "is richer and more nuanced." Why is that, you ask? Because, she explains, "most black people debating the issue acknowledge that the desperate public beating came from centuries of black parents knowing they have to discipline their children harshly, or else white society will do it for them -- and they may not survive it."
That's mighty self-congratulatory of Walsh, but it really is bizarre thinking. Maybe she presumes that because she's an all-empathizing and superior liberal, she can presume what motivates all black people to engage in certain behaviors. Perhaps she also presumes she knows what every white person is thinking because she is white and intelligent.
I can't speak for blacks, but I can conjecture that they aren't thinking about slavery or Jim Crow when they administer corporal punishment to their children. Do you really think black parents who discipline their children are motivated by a desire to prevent future white racists from unfairly incarcerating their children? How about because they don't want them to join gangs or to be a perpetrator or victim of black-on-black violence, which is far more prevalent than white-on-black violence?
I can't speak for all whites, either, but I can speak for myself.
Let's examine Walsh's claim that by hyping Graham's heroism, we are justifying police brutality and saying the only way to control black kids is to beat the blank out of them, acknowledging upfront, of course, that we'll never be able to apply the nuanced thinking that she employs to get to the heart of the matter.
When I saw Graham slapping her son, I thought she was responding appropriately to the horror of her son's participating in a very dangerous and potentially criminal activity. These riotous mobs in Baltimore feloniously assaulted police officers and caused millions of dollars' worth of damage. Let's not downplay the stunning gravity of the situation.
Such irresponsible behavior, in my view, justified Graham's strong reaction and her righteous emotions accompanying it. Let's also be clear that she in no way physically harmed her child, but she did get his attention, mostly by her strong disapproval. At the risk of sounding platitudinous and repetitive of what so many others have said, it was an act of love -- purely and simply -- as parental discipline so often is, modeling, by the way, God's disciplining of human beings.
What a condescending inference Walsh is drawing in suggesting whites are applauding Graham for "beating up" her son "as though that's the only way to discipline a black child." What in the world? Neither the mother's nor the child's skin color is relevant. I would applaud any mother for disciplining her child in that situation. She did not beat him up. Give me a break.
How outrageous for Walsh to suggest that cops are like Pavlovian dogs who will adjust their reaction to black children based on what one of their mothers does. So because whites lionized Graham for slapping her child, the police (who weren't any more white than black, by the way) will amend their manual to call for beating blacks like animals as their mothers have signaled to us there's no other way to control them?
Sorry, Ms. Walsh, but police officers are human beings, too, regardless of the popular trend to judge them like subhuman racists lying in wait for the next target of their heinous bigotry. Most cops are fine people and perform services that most of us wouldn't want to do but without which we'd live in anarchy -- the type of anarchy we witnessed in Baltimore this past week. Is that the kind of America we want to live in?
I don't think Graham is a hero, but when so many other parents obviously had no control over their kids wreaking havoc and violence in those mean streets, I think she should be applauded for trying to bring her own son under control. He will be much the better for it. And I will not apologize for applauding her, nor will I accept Walsh's supercilious attempt to cast those who disagree with her in this situation as racists or whatever in the world it is that she's trying to say.