My absolute favorite piece of writing this week is by New York Times charity case Charles Blow, who watched the hysterically funny Montgomery dock brawl and was nearly moved to tears thinking about slavery.
For the uninitiated, there was a blowout mob fight on an Alabama riverfront dock last Saturday after a mini cruise boat captain attempted to move a pontoon parked in his vessel’s way. The guy reportedly tried to physically push the pontoon by hand after alerting its passengers that they were in his commercial boat’s spot, and video shows them — roughly six people — responding by dogpiling the captain.
Because “diversity, equity, and inclusion” is all the rage, the event intensified by nature of the riverboat captain being black and the pontoon passengers all appearing to be white. In video footage, witnesses are heard screaming, “Help your brother!” and, “They wrong for that!”
More passersby, who were also black, came to defend the captain. One black male, identified as a 16-year-old, was seen diving into the water from a separate nearby boat and swimming to the dock, presumably to defend the captain as well. Video shows that eventually, black individuals outnumbered the white pontoon passengers in the brawl.
The entire thing is hilarious, starting with the riverboat captain’s animated toss of his hat into the air before barreling into his opponent. It spawned a billion memes, and the online consensus is that the pontoon passengers got what they deserved for ganging up on a man who was almost certainly just doing his job. Some of the whites are being prosecuted for their misconduct.
But it wasn’t funny for Charles Blow. He saw a historical comeuppance.
“There, the righteous indignation of a community found an outlet when Black people came to the defense of a Black man under attack,” he wrote Wednesday. “There was therapy in it for many who saw it — a sense of historical correction.”
Blow added that there was a “bit of historical poetry, the brawl happened in Alabama” because of its “horrible history of slavery and notorious convict leasing system, which Douglas A. Blackmon called ‘slavery by another name’ in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name.”
Sir, this is a Popeyes. Can I please take your order?
Black people on social media mostly seemed to find it comical, rather than historical, but so long as we’re talking about “historical corrections,” I hope Blow got to watch the video of the Middle Eastern 7-Eleven clerk using a giant stick to beat the crap out of a black man who was in the process of robbing the store.
That event happened a week before the Montgomery brawl, this time in Stockton, California. Video of the ordeal shows a black man with some kind of blue cloth covering his face as he shovels dozens and dozens of items off the shelves into a rolling trash can.
“Shut the f-ck up,” he tells the clerk. “I’ve got a strap,” he says, meaning a gun, as he motions toward his waist.
As he tries to push toward the other end of the store, one man grabs him and pulls him to the ground while another man wearing a turban comes at the looter with a wooden pole, repeatedly wailing down at his legs, back, and behind.
Adding to the — what did Blow call it? — “historical poetry” of the matter is that the butt bashing didn’t come until after the man video-recording it told the clerk, “There’s nothing you can do, man, until you call the police.”
It turns out, there was something he could do.
This is in the context of retail crime — both theft and violence — up more than 25 percent nationally in 2021 (it’s at least double that in cities like New York and Los Angeles). We’re told we can’t do anything, that we have to stand by and watch, and even if a cop shows up, the thug will almost certainly receive a “mental health evaluation” and then be set free.
Maybe it’s time for more “righteous indignation” of that variety when it comes to shoplifting. Or does only one side get to feel a “sense of historical correction” in a public beating?