I come here not to condemn Amy Cooper, the white woman who called police and falsely claimed that an African American man named Christian Cooper was attacking her, but rather to praise Christian Cooper, who had done nothing more than ask her to leash her dog. The confrontation happened in New York's Central Park, where dogs are supposed to be kept on leashes.
National media pounced on this tale of two unrelated Coopers, captured by Christian on video. The easy storyline focused on a clash between an evil racist and a blameless black victim. Christian had been out in the park bird-watching, of all things.
But there's a far bigger message here. Our society is full of Amy Coopers. There are not many Christian Coopers.
A lesser man would have lost patience, to put it mildly, with a woman bent on racial intimidation. Amy told Christian, "I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life."
Amy was engaged in a clear act of extortion, indicating she would put Christian at risk of grave harm should the arriving police buy into her falsehoods. That same day, police in Minneapolis virtually executed an African American accused only of trying to pass a fake $20 bill.
But Christian calmly told her to go ahead and call the police. All the while, he urged Amy to not get close to him, making obvious who was the aggressor.
This story had a happy ending. The New York City police acted professionally, quickly figuring out what occurred. The dog, which the video showed Amy had lifted by the collar, was taken away by animal rescue. The financial services company Amy worked for immediately fired her.
Social media are rife with videos of our Amy Coopers abusing bystanders of color. We see Hilary Brooke Mueller in St. Louis officiously blocking a black man from entering the condominium building in which he rented a unit. She demanded to see his key fob. There was Teresa Klein, who called police from a Brooklyn deli, falsely accusing a young black boy of groping her rear end. (The boy of 9 was later spotted outside crying.) In California, a gas station employee is shown yelling at a customer for speaking Spanish — one of numerous videos of whites harassing Latino shoppers conversing in their native language.
For some reason, these harassers are almost all female. Their voices are edged with hysteria, and they don't seem entirely well in the head. Frankly, they are not unlike the creeps now trying to bully and mock others for wearing masks.
Not only did Christian Cooper keep his cool but he also urged the social media audience to stop sending Amy death threats. "I think her apology is sincere," the former Marvel Comics editor told CNN.
He had totally sized up the situation. While Amy may not consider herself a racist, he added, "that particular act was definitely racist." And showing an amazing amount of generosity, he allowed that she was in a stressful situation. What she did was "you know, maybe a moment of spectacularly poor judgement."
We live in a time when self-control remains in short supply and is downright devalued by many civic leaders. On the contrary, public displays of anger are encouraged. Thus, you see outlandish reactions to small requests to follow simple rules. Some of the undisciplined turn violent, their responses utterly out of proportion to what was asked of them.
Christian refused to be sucked into the vortex, even when mightily provoked. How many of us in his situation would step back as he did and shame awful behavior with humanity?
That made Christian Cooper more a hero than Amy Cooper was a villain.
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.
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