Posted on September 14, 2023

The Karens Were Innocent

Wilfred Reilly, Commentary, October 2023

It is no exaggeration to say that, over the past few years, one of the major topics in mainstream media has been the parlous behavior of white Americans harassing and abusing black people for no apparent reason. This is especially true when it comes to coverage of white women who somehow find themselves at cross-purposes with black males.

In 2018, a woman who came to be known as “BBQ Becky” had, we were informed, chased an innocent black group out of a park in Oakland, California, apparently outraged just to see African Americans cheerfully grilling in public. In May 2020, a New Yorker named Amy Cooper was walking her dog when she encountered black bird-watcher Christian Cooper, on whom she called the cops for what we were told was no apparent reason—and by doing so, potentially “put his life at risk.” She became known as the “Central Park Karen.”

A year later, a white woman in a Brooklyn dog park told an upper-middle-class black writer to “go back to the hood.” In 2023, “Citibike Karen,” a nurse at Bellevue Hospital, allegedly tried to steal a rental bicycle from a group of black teenagers—the clear implication being that she thought her white privilege entitled her to the two-wheeler if she wanted it.

These incidents set off significant real-world reverberations. A month after the Coopers encountered each other in Central Park, Andrew Cuomo, then the governor of New York, signed into law NY Senate Bill 8492, widely known as the Anti-Karen Act. The law “imposes a…penalty for calling the cops on a black person” or member of any other legally protected class, at least when no very direct proof exists that “a crime or offense, or imminent threat to person or property, is occurring.” Around the same time, a law literally titled the CAREN Act was proposed and passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. And so, in at least two of the nation’s most prominent and populous left-leaning states, simply calling the cops on suspicious-looking people is now a risky business—if they’re the wrong color.

It was nonsense. Over the course of the several years that followed 2020’s peak Covid-and–George-Floyd hysteria, virtually every “Karen” tale was reveal-ed to be something not far from a complete hoax.

Roughly in order: It turned out that BBQ Becky (real name Jennifer Schulte) had called the cops only because the black family was cooking out in a “dog run” area of a public park where fire was prohibited, and they had refused a polite request to move. She reacted a bit more sharply, perhaps, than most city dwellers would have, but she was in the right.

As for Central Park’s Amy Cooper, she herself noted on Bari Weiss’s Honestly podcast that she had become alarmed and had engaged police because the male bird-watcher she encountered began behaving irrationally and threateningly toward her pet—pulling dog treats out of his clothes, trying to lure Cooper’s beloved dog over to him, and telling Amy he was going to do “something” to her or the pooch that “she was not going to like.” {snip}

The nonsense had a cost, not only in the passage of unnecessary and arguably unconstitutional laws but also in the ruination of the lives of the women tagged with these offenses. Amy Cooper became a famous urban villain and lost her livelihood. Then there was “Citibike Karen.” Sarah Comrie is a nurse. She was, at the time, heavily pregnant. And no, she did not in fact attempt to jack a cheap bicycle from five fighting-age black men. Comrie’s attorney was able to provide literal receipts that showed she had in fact been the one to rent the bicycle over which the argument with the teenage black kids erupted. Comrie was not only called “retarded” during the confrontation but had her distended stomach touched in a potentially threatening way. {snip}

In either case, the willingness of millions of urbanites and tens of millions of TV viewers to believe these patently false narratives says a great deal about the bizarre level of artificial sensitivity that whites are expected to tote into American discussions of racial affairs.


The collapse of the Karen tales hardly stands alone. Simply put, virtually every major claim made during and around the recent “Racial Reckoning” turned out to be untrue. {snip}


The same pattern of collapse goes for larger and broader claims of American racism run amok. The total number of unarmed black men shot annually by police—a figure commonly said for around a decade to be in the “thousands,” or “one every 28 hours,” or “(a) genocide”—was eventually revealed (by me and other authors) to be on the order of 15. {snip}

Similarly, interracial violent crime involving both blacks and whites—described during the peak “Karen” hysteria as though it were constant and almost totally white-on-black—in fact turns out to make up perhaps 3 percent of U.S. criminal activity and to be almost 90 percent black-on-white. {snip}


{snip} There is currently a very intense demand for evidence of racism in America—by which I mean the real, old-school kind of stuff. The demand far outweighs any potential supply of it. The need is based, I believe, in an aching desire to find a socially acceptable explanation for certain obvious struggles in minority and in particular black communities, such as the astonishing 73 percent illegitimacy rate for native-born black Americans.