Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 8, No. 6, June 2020
By Barbara Childs
Editor’s note: On June 4, Attorney General William Barr gave a press conference on the Black Lives Matter protests.
Attorney General William Barr was reasonable and respectful of the press at his conference. But I think it is unfortunately another example of what neuro-psychologist Rick Hanson calls “negativity bias”, an evolutionary phenomenon that “overlooks good news, highlights bad news and creates anxiety and pessimism.” In the past negativity bias worked to protect us. Now it can blind us to the present reality. Here is what I wish the Attorney General, President Trump and all our leaders would say instead.
The extrajudicial murder of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis policeman has triggered a once-in-a-lifetime protest movement throughout every state in our union, a movement that is denouncing police brutality as more than isolated instances. It is a movement that has exposed the systemic racism at the heart of police systems and made these systems a threat to the very democracy they are meant to protect. We can proudly celebrate a living example of real democracy as we watch hundreds of thousands of people of all ages, all colors, all walks of life, marching together peacefully to demand a trained police force that respects the law and the human rights of all persons under the law. These non-violent protestors are not a threat to democracy. They are democracy.