Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
Last year, George Floyd was murdered at the hands of officer Derek Chauvin, but it is only after the latter went to court that this has been recognized. The unanimous guilty verdict rendered from Chavin’s trial brought a moment of respite and justice for many Americans but most of all for Floyd’s family. However, where some see a brief moment of justice, others see an opportunity to further divide Americans.
Fox News political commentary host Greg Gutfeld said Chauvin “might not be guilty on all charges” in response to the results of the trial. This statement not only overlooks the evidence presented, but also shifts the narrative of justice in the face of a tumultuous year of protest, political unrest and battles against racism. It is possible that this line of thinking, and others, are in fact genuine responses to the outcome of the trial. Nonetheless, airing such statements on national television only serves to sow discord.
These narratives attempt to separate an individual’s personal beliefs from what is both moral and ethical. Additionally, it prevents and frankly muddles the truth in the occurrence of tragic events; it concurrently shifts the narrative into less significant matters. For example, arguing Chauvin’s partial-guiltiness avoids questions on matters like police brutality on people of color, disproportionately high rates of police killing Black people in America, and how our nation must change to ensure equality and justice for all. To shift the scope solely on the basis of political discourse and identity politics is incredibly detrimental to minorities and marginalized groups who need it most.
What’s even more preposterous is that host Tucker Carlson questioned and mocked his guests who spoke in celebration for Floyd and in condemnation for Chauvin; Carlson also asserted that it was an unfair trial on his Fox News segment. He continued to criticize the jurors of their decision, arguing that they were badgered into pleading Chauvin guilty.
Carlson furthered his argument by incorrectly citing misconstruing facts, including claims that Floyd died from a fentanyl overdose and that the media lynched Chauvin. This is denigrating and backward on three levels.
Firstly, it appears that Carlson either believes his brash, intolerant words and actions come without consequence, or that he is intentionally pushing mistruth. In an attempt to maintain his ideology on the Fox platform, he is willing to sacrifice truth and the opportunity for justice. This is all done for the sake of distorting fact with false narratives. In either instance, Carlson’s adamance to merge identity politics without regarding the harm misinformation has to his audience minimizes the importance of the issues at hand, as well as creates separate factions towards issues concerning human rights.
On another level, Carlson’s segment sympathizes with murderers like Chauvin; he subsequently attempts to silence and nullify conversations pertaining to the topic of police accountability and the flawed criminal justice system. His questioning of whether it was a fair trial for Chauvin, and not for Floyd, is the very reason that we as a society must continue to fight for dynamic and massive change for our own people.
Together, this exemplifies the danger of incorporating political ideology with topics revolving human rights and ethicality, for it mistakes positive, progressive change with danger and violence. Those aligning with Carlson’s mentality incorrectly question the aspects of our social justice and criminal justice system that many in America have spent centuries attempting to recalibrate for the greater good.
Another harmful level is its negative impact on the Black Lives Matter movement — in addition to its values and organizational goals — because commentators like Carlson are attempting to undermine its true definition and purpose. In associating the movement with destructive violence and protests, it strips away the attention that should be given to address such inequalities. Additionally, it selfishly places the spotlight on counterproductive measures intending to maintain the status quo that neglects and vilifies marginalized groups who need it most.
To prevent further divide, it is significant that we find ways to initiate more programs to educate and provide resources on how to alleviate suffering for individuals negatively impacted by these instances. It’s also significant that we learn to differentiate between topics that regard the humane treatment of individuals — regardless of their identity and background — and politically-driven concepts. Failure to do so will charge our society forward into a bleak future of violence, unrest and a continued demand for change.
The danger in politicizing Chauvin’s verdict is to place weight on the significance of an individual’s life based on one’s political values instead of moral ones. Floyd was murdered in a suffocation that was egged on by the police, despite pleas of not being able to breathe. If this incident, which was captured on live video, doesn’t emphasize Chauvin’s sadism in that moment, then we are forced to fully reevaluate the definition and significance before us. If not, we will all be left confused and scrambling when it hits us right between our eyes.
Andy Ketsiri is a Staff Writer for the spring 2021 quarter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.