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My Letter To A Black Friend Upset With Me

This is my recent letter to a dear black friend I met 42 years ago. I am a true conservative. He is a progressive modern liberal (i.e., not a classical liberal). He got upset with me after the terrible George Floyd killing when I said that while it was awful and unjustified, and the cops must be duly punished, and that lawful protesting is expected; rioting, looting and destruction of the property of others are illegitimate and must also be punished.


My friendship with you has never been in doubt, and nothing you could ever say or argue with the exception of direct attacks on me or my loved ones could ever damage that.The fact you have made arguments I have disagreed with for decades does not diminish you or your value to me.. 

I do not confuse disliking anyone’s POV with disliking them. It’s up to me to change their view with good debate and convincing facts. There are many wonderful people in the world with what I consider very bad ideas. That does not make them bad, or my enemy. I would prefer to agree with them, but then we would both be wrong. 

I don’t know who else will be there when you are on your death bed. 

But I will be


This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. James Small

    I look at it this way… if you lose a friend over standing up for facts and truth, he was never your friend to begin with.
    My father always told me that if you go through your entire life and meet JUST ONE really true friend, one who will stick with you even when things get very rough, you are extremely lucky.

  2. MH

    My good friend, Mr. G. While you’re as articulate and as intelligent as they come, let me help you understand why your friend may be perturbed. You’re correct in that acts of vandalism should be punishable. They’re crimes. However, countless police officers that look like you still have their jobs after committing harsher crimes against people who look like your friend and myself. Like murder. So I disagree with worrying about property being damaged in the process until proper justice is served for the plethora of gross abuses of power. Lives and property should never be aligned in the same breath. Are all cops bad? Probably not. Are all protesters rioters and looters? Let’s look at the footage yet consider what’s not being covered. You never carried the same weight as your friend, in your life, and that’s the disconnect. Hardships exclude no one. Oppression targets a particular group or groups. No justice. No peace. If you want change, why would you want it any other way?

    1. William Gairdner

      You perhaps misinterpret my letter. The basic point was that I don’t allow a person’s bad arguments to change my appreciation or love of their person. Put another way, I don’t dislike a person just because I don’t like their arguments. Any debate must be won on its merits, not on emotional bullying, which shuts down all debate. As for your own efforts to carve up the guilty charges by groups? It is helpful to remember the experience of Solzhenitsyn as an oppressed witness to evil in the Gulag: The line between good and evil does not run between human groups; it runs straight through every human heart.

      1. M. K.

        Nothing was misinterpreted. Your friend of colour became upset with you because of one of your long-standing beliefs. You stated that regardless of differences of opinion, you continue to love the people you hold dear to you. No one’s going to side with property being parallel to human life. I have to add, however, that part of an argument’s goal is to present another perspective and perhaps sway one’s thinking. The system was clearly built to your advantage. When people speak from privilege, and get called out on it, it’s not the time to find excuses like you’re being emotionally bullied. The truth is ugly and is hard to swallow. Looking in the mirror with guilt attached isn’t supposed to be rosy. There’s no growth to come of that. Lives of people apart from you are being lost. With little, if any justice ensuing. So at this point, no one cares about feelings. Maybe white privilege needs to be bullied. Into oblivion. Just turn the tables and think of how incensed you would be if that were your unarmed son gunned down or choked to death. With no reproach. Let today be lugubrious if it means tomorrow might possess more hope.

        1. William Gairdner

          I think you say some interesting things and a few misleading ones. And your tone seems a little smug. But you still miss the only point I was trying to make. Namely, that turning up the emotional volume of an argument does not make it a better argument. Only louder; and if weak in its premisses, conclusions, or facts, absurd. And I repeat, emotion used as a weapon in debate is illegitimate, ruinous of friendship, and a form of bullying by someone who thinks their POV is more privileged than another’s, but hasn’t succeeded in makng a persuasive case. Children debate mostly using emotional weapons. Adults shouldn’t stoop to that.
          I have a good black friend in California. We disagree on the meaning of the current BLM events and riots. I told him his POV must have very little to do with his colour, because there are dozens of very persuasive black commentators in the USA who also disagree very strongly with him. Since that is the case, I say, please tell me what the logical, moral, political, and policy basis for your arguments is?

          1. Gloria

            I’ve been trying to research why openmindedness and the ability to see, understand, and accept another POV is so frustratingly futile. I understand it’s because there is emotion attached to an individual’s opinion, and only a differing opinion presented in a way that affects that person’s emotions can be effective in changing it. Logic seems to go by the wayside but I do agree that escalating emotional volume in an argument only makes it louder. An absurd argument is still absurd.

  3. Jonathan

    “The line between good and evil does not run between human groups; it runs straight through every human heart.” May put it on a frame?

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