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  • Writer's pictureMario Nicolais

The ugly metaphor at the heart of George Floyd’s murder

As a white male and conservative columnist, the easiest thing for me to do during our country’s current unrest would be to remain silent. In the past, my efforts to address racial divisions have led black politicians to accuse me of gerrymandering, made me a target for partisan operatives on social media and have been taken out of context by left-leaning publications.

Against that history, engaging again makes me uncomfortable. But the discomfort concordant with silence would be unlivable.

Nothing I feel – the anxiety that I may be misquoted or worry that I’ll be doxed by vengeful extremists, my elevated heart rate or subtle nausea, not even a slight shortness of breath – compares to the discomfort African-American protesters across the country, and black men in particular, have made clear they feel every time they come into contact with law enforcement.

And I have never felt anything that could compare to the terror George Floyd must have endured during the eight minutes and 46 seconds  it took four police officers to kill him.

Watching that video, I am haunted by the indifference displayed by Derek Chauvin as he casually ended a life. With his left hand stuck in a pants pocket and donning an apathetic facial expression, Chauvin never showed the slightest concern for Floyd’s desperate pleas.

In fact, the only time Chauvin reacted in any fashion was to bystanders shouting at him, lending their voices to the one that had already failed an unconscious Floyd. In that moment Chauvin’s eyes narrowed, his jaw-jutted forward and anger rose within him as he reached for a canister of Mace. If another officer had not stepped between them, Chauvin certainly would have attacked them.

As awful as it is to watch Floyd die, it is the metaphor within that buckles me over time and again. Derek Chauvin is the Dorian Gray-esque picture of silent white America.

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