There is no doubt that the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has brought out a barrage of varied emotional states in people. From the quiet, sedate hamlets of New Hampshire to the spacious, gleaming beaches of Florida, and from the beautiful mountains of east Tennessee and western North Carolina to the trendy coastal cities of the Pacific Northwest, there have been more than a few people who have not hesitated to act on their most base impulses for good or ill.
Despite the fact that this disturbing event occurred several days ago, footage of the incident is gradually emerging into the mainstream media. Slowly, yet surely, more and more of the nation is being exposed to the violent incident that took place in an upscale Louisville suburb. https://atlantablackstar.com/2020/04/09/kentucky-doctor-charged-with-felony-for-choking-teenager-in-viral-social-distancing-video/
Police have charged John Rademaker, a 57-year-old physician and resident of the Norton Commons suburb, with strangulation after engaging in a heated confrontation with a group of teens who were walking in his direction.
Suddenly, he lets loose a barrage of profanities, directly points to one of the teenagers, calling her an “asshole,” rapidly rushes toward the young lady, throws her to the ground and proceeds to choke her as her friends begin to shout and attempt to pull the enraged physician off her. https://thehill.com/homenews/news/491830-louisville-doctor-arrested-charged-with-strangulation-after-fighting-teens-over
As can be imagined, the reaction among many people upon witnessing such aggressive barbarity from a man who was more than 6’0 tall, and 220 lbs., violently attacking (in fact viciously chocking) a diminutive teenage girl was nothing short of horrifying.
Personally, upon initially witnessing the video, I was speechless. Eventually, my loss for words culminated into becoming appalled. As can be imagined, it did not take long for the internet/blogger crowd to weigh in, casting heavy assumptions, aspersions, and levying serious levels of eye-blinding shade toward “ the less than good doctor.”
Charges of racist, thug, psychopath, bully, and other unflattering terms were among the cleaner terms plastered on social media. Indeed, for a brief time period, John Rademaker became the most famous, or rather, infamous man of the moment.
Given that we are human beings — a highly complex and habitually opinionated species that more than a few of us tend to be — it is not at all surprising that so many individuals did not relent from espousing their opinions on the incident at hand. This includes me, as well.
As I see it, Mr., or rather, Dr. Rademaker had no apprehensions losing his cool and deciding to go medieval on the young Black teenage lady due to the following.
- As a man, his inner sexism allowed him to feel that he had the right to exercise his gender privilege.
- As a tall, good-sized man, he knew that he would likely be able to overpower and humiliate a small, teenage girl.
- As an older, middle-aged man, he believed that his age gave him the authority to react in any manner he desired toward kids (in his mind) who were decades younger than he was.
- As an upscale, affluent man (a medical doctor no less), he believed his position afforded him the right to lecture and scold these young people on what he saw as irresponsible behavior.
- As a White man, his race and gender gave him the power and right to give these young ladies a piece of his mind.
- As a White man, his race, gender, and in his case, economic status, provided him with the supposed “moral authority” to behave in a manner that many other people, in particular, women and people of color, could not behave without consequences.
- As a White man, living in a ritzy suburb, he viewed this teenage Black girl in the company of several other White teenagers with deep resentment; he saw her as someone who did not belong and was “trespassing” so-to-speak.
These are just some of my observations.
Indeed, this incident was not lost on many people of color, me included (and some White posters). The fact that there were several teenagers in the group in question, and that he decided to single out the sole Black individual in the group for extralegal violence, was likely more than coincidental. He saw her as “uppity” and “not knowing her place.” Given his age and regional pedigree — White, late-middle-aged, southern man — such an attitude would hardly be surprising.
To be sure, the south does not harbor a monopoly on racism. However, racist and sexist attitudes are still deeply entrenched in many pockets of southern culture. Racism, sexism, chivalry, and other antebellum like behavior still reign supreme. Devoutly so.
There is no doubt that a lawsuit will emerge from this troubling saga. It would seem to me if his attorneys have any degree of legal acumen, they will encourage Rademaker to settle before going to trial. I mean, after all, it will likely be a seriously uphill battle to persuade a jury, including a predominately
White, racially conservative jury, that you were acting in self-defense or be able to provide any sort of defense for that matter when a sizable segment of America has witnessed you going rouge on a young teenage woman for no justified reason.
There are situations where even bigots expect men to behave like gentlemen. In this case, John Rademaker failed miserably. Potentially deadly so.
Historian, Public Speaker and Cultural Critic Elwood Watson, Ph.D. is a professor at East Tennessee State University and author of the recent book, Keepin’ It Real: Essays on Race in Contemporary America (University of Chicago Press) — which is available in paperback and Kindle via Amazon and other major book retailers.