We all saw it. It was captured on video. It lasted nine interminable minutes. It ignited our righteous indignation—an oil fire floating on an ocean of grief.
Most people felt this way about the video of the murder—yes, murder—of George Floyd last year. The officer responsible, Derek Chauvin, was convicted of three counts on Tuesday for snuffing out a man’s life over the course of those nine excruciating minutes.
Some observers, though, seem less concerned about the murder of George Floyd and more concerned about—well, it’s hard to say what they are concerned about. Some of them are claiming that the trial was a set-up. Rigged. That the jury had it in for Chauvin. Or that Chauvin didn’t really matter because the real villains were Joe Biden and Maxine Waters and Don Lemon, who somehow managed to pressure the jury into convicting Chauvin on all counts. Probably because they were afraid of cancel culture.
It is possible to stipulate all sorts of things here:
Yes, President Biden and Rep. Waters both made statements they shouldn’t have. Waters encouraged demonstrators to get “more active” and “more confrontational” if Chauvin weren’t convicted, which wasn’t an explicit call to violence but was at least unwise. Biden said that the evidence was “overwhelming” in his view and encouraged the jury to reach “the right verdict” without making explicit what the right verdict was. Neither should have said what they said. Political leaders should be circumspect when offering public commentary about ongoing trials—or better yet, should altogether refrain from commenting. Still, as violations of norms go, these seem more like misdemeanors than felonies. And most importantly: There is no evidence that they swayed the jury.
Yet by fixating on all of this, the Extremely Online right has been doing something interesting in the hours since the verdict was announced. They’re not willing to be pro-Chauvin, exactly. Well, most of them, anyway. You don’t see a lot of affirmative defenses of Chauvin being mounted, or a lot of folks proclaiming his innocence.
But there is an awful lot of anti-anti-Chauvinism. So much so that it might well become the latest article of faith for conservatives in good standing.