Stealing Hope: Why Cosplay Socialists Are Fretting Derek Chauvin's Conviction

Gasps of relief. Tears of justice. Vindication of faith.

These were the reactions to George Floyd’s killer, former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, being found guilty on three criminal counts, including second and third degree murder. Finally, finally, finally, a white killer cop who took the life of a Black man with a knee on the neck while the world watched in stunned agony for 10 whole minutes was being held accountable.

George Floyd’s family was elated that their faith in the system of justice was vindicated, and millions of people across the world wept in that somber elation.

The far left and the far right extremes, though, don’t share the Floyd family's elation and relief. The far right commentator Tucker Carlson had a complete meltdown over the verdict, and the far left cosplay socialists began sounding the alarm that this verdict is bad for their recruitment.

On the socialist left, the Democratic Socialists of America released a hurried statement that proclaimed, “The verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial is not justice.” It claimed that Chauvin was merely a sacrificial lamb to “quell outrage” - presumably so they can preserve the overall system that killed Floyd others.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the most visible brand ambassador for DSA, released a video with roughly the same message and lamenting that not all the officers involved have been convicted, seemingly unaware that other officers who were on the scene with Chauvin are also slated to stand trial in August. Ocasio Cortez said she doesn't want people to view the verdict as an instance of “this system working.”

That begs the question: if in the context of this trial, a conviction of the killer cop is not the system working, then what is? There was, after all, only one other possible outcome of this trial: an acquittal. If a guilty verdict is not the “system working”, then by DSA's logic and following the process of elimination, a not guilty verdict must have indicated the system working.

Of course this outcome was just. Of course it was an instance of the system working. Of course this was accountability. Of course, it didn’t make all systemic inequities and injustices disappear, but it was a measure of justice, and to refuse to call it that is nothing short of telling those who fought for this outcome that their work doesn’t matter.

Now, I quite doubt that AOC, or even the DSA, literally mean that Derek Chauvin’s trial should have exonerated him, but they certainly do mean this: if it had, that would have been better for their “movement.” Having a just verdict complicates their efforts to sell their revolution as the only way solution to injustice.

If Chauvin had got off, their message that the criminal justice system is irredeemably broken (and not worth redeeming) would have gotten an emotional boost, rightly or wrongly. Press releases calling a just outcome “not justice” just doesn’t have the same recruitment appeal.

The socialist ideological core is heavily dependent on taking it on blind faith that our law enforcement and criminal justice systems never work, while the far right has built their house of cards around the fiction that it - and its most visible representatives, those who wield a badge and a gun - never gets it wrong.

The Chauvin verdict hits at both bases. It demonstrated, for once, that our justice system can and does work, that a court of law and a jury of 12 people can still be trusted to make a decision based on the facts, the evidence, and the law.

It also demonstrates something deeper: that at the end of the day, the law can be used to hold its own instruments accountable. That means that using and changing our laws is one of the ways of dealing with police violence that can be effective. If banning chokeholds, holding police accountable for civil rights violations, ending qualified immunity, and vigorously prosecuting officers who use deadly force without good cause can yield results and accountability, then maybe the law itself is not rotten. If simply changing the law to make it possible to hold more bad cops accountable, then maybe you don’t need a revolution.

Which means you also don’t need revolutionaries, or socialists. Worse yet, the #ACAB hashtag might go out of style.

In other words, if people believe that they can change the system by changing laws, they will no longer feel the need to take up pitchforks and torches. This is a scary idea for leftists, because their conviction for the need of a revolution in which the entire system burned down rather than reformed cannot stand if there are reasonable means of fixing what is wrong with the system, built into the system.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, let’s get one thing crystal clear.

No one, except for the ignorant and the far right, argues that policing is not riddled with systemic racism all across the country, as is almost every other system. The very fact that despite the overwhelming evidence against Chauvin, no one dared predict this outcome exposes a raw, metastasizing cancer in the criminal justice system in America: white cops get off for killing unarmed Black people, and that’s just how it goes. Prosecutors get gun shy about bringing charges, grand juries refuse to indict, trial juries acquit, and the cycle continues unabated. Systemic racism doesn’t just plague police. It plagues courtrooms, jury deliberation rooms, and indeed, the very system of laws that grants the presumption of justification to police officers for using excessive force.

Qualified immunity has become synonymous with unqualified impunity.

But that is also precisely why it is important to pause, take note, and celebrate a moment of justice. The celebration of one instance of justice is not the denial of numerous instances of injustice, nor is it a denial of systemic problems with the justice system. The recognition of a moment of justice is, in fact, a celebration of the human spirit and capacity to overcome injustice. It is confirmation that we have it within us - and within our system - to change society for the better. That recognition is about elevating hope - the core force that gives rise to positive change - over desperation, the condition that simply makes us lash out.

Leftists want people to lash out, not hope.

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