Easy-to-make mistakes in interpreting a 'sister' culture's motivations — Patrick Cockburn, regarding alleged American racism

© 2021 Peter Free


10 August 2021



Mistakes in interpreting a foreign culture's motivations are easy to make


I do this every day, I'm sure.


However, let's use British Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent — not to be confused with Andrew Cockburn, District of Columbia editor for Harper's Magazine — as an example that illustrates the difficulty of reliably interpreting even closely related foreign cultures.



In the below instance


Patrick Cockburn, in my American view, mistakenly interpreted US cultural paradigms that join firearms to home defense, as being racist in nature.



In Britain racism tends to be half-concealed, as with the government’s confused attack on taking the knee, but in the US it is now startlingly open, as shown by the Republican governor of Missouri this week pardoning the couple who pointed guns at a Black Lives Matter demonstration.


© 2021 Patrick Cockburn, Britain Is Sleazier and More Corrupt, but the Pandemic Is only Partly to Blame, CounterPunch (10 August 2021)



If you click on highlighted link contained in the above extract, you will arrive at a very obviously intentionally distorted, purely accusatory overview of what had happened in Missouri.


My less biased perspective is here. And if you want some thematically delicious follow-up, read about the judicial removal of County's arguably corrupt prosecutor in the McCloskey case, here.


Somehow, the obvious unfairness of Patrick Cockburn's cited evidence was not enough to persuade him that a dose of nuance might be required in reaching his overreaching conclusion about American racism.



A more balanced view?


BLM, of course, will agree with Cockburn. But in my estimation, BLM and Cockburn overlook midwestern and western Americans' self-standing — no racism required — fondness for firearms, as a method of self and home defense.



Let's do a thought experiment


Tell me — which came first to the McCloskeys' minds that weapons-brandishing day?



A visibly 'black' mob of (mildly integrated) neighborhood-invaders?


Or the more basic concepts of defending one's home against a Rabble — which had been, from the McCloskeys' deductive perspective, unruly enough to bypass their neighborhood's gated security?



The fact that Mark and Patricia McCloskey felt compelled to strut their allegedly self-protective 'stuff' in front of their (alleged) mansion does not automatically make them bigots.


Provocative fools maybe. But automatically and necessarily racist, no.


As for Missouri's pardoning governor — given American cultural paradigms about:



firearms for almost all




'my home is my castle'



. . . shouldn't we (and Patrick Cockburn) cut him some slack?



Condemning the Missouri crew, as well the entire United States, as being predominantly racially biased seems to take the excessively flimsy evidence that Patrick Cockburn cites much too far.



The moral? — Genuine intelligence requires that we repeatedly examine our assumptions


When we are ignorant of another culture's usually entangled basic paradigms, it is unlikely that we can be certain of our pigeon-holing conclusions about it.


If you read The Independent's very biased review of the McCloskey incident and governor's subsequent pardoning of them, you will note that Mark McCloskey insists that he would do the same weapons-brandishing again.


Perhaps Patrick Cockburn could prove his racism case by having a mob of predominantly 'white' BLMers invade the neighborhood.


Would the McCloskeys again strut their firearms-presenting display in reply?



My guess would be, yes.


I suspect that the allegedly wealthy McCloskeys' primary fear is against potential depredations by an impoverished Rabble.


Just as the entirety of America's Über Klasse is.



Anti-Rabble-ism is — more arguably than not — more engrained in the United States than actively pursued racism is.


Perhaps one has to live here to know this.