Michael Brown

The Beeb on Ferguson, and Other Notes

Ferguson protests: How the shooting of a black unarmed teenager sparked days of unrest and made a nation look at itself.  (BBC)

As much as we might appreciate the sentiment offered by the BBC for its sentiment on the Ferguson outrage, I must unfortunately beg to differ: “. . . made a nation look at itself”? Right. Yeah, that’s exactly what happened. Right?

Okay, yeah, we know. Right. That’s not even funny. Still, though, we do appreciate the Beeb’s hopeful sentiment, despite how “un-American” introspection actually is. No, really, remember that we dope introspective kids up in order to make them knock it off.

Okay, look, the truth is that when we “look at ourselves”, what we actually do is not look in the mirror, but point fingers at one another and yell a whole lot. Well, unless you’re a cop; then you point ugly guns at people and yell a whole lot. But internationals need to understand, the current President of the United States isn’t allowed to express human emotions without the danger of a white-led race riot. Remember what happened last time, when he said what any parent might say of a tragedy, that Trayvon Martin could have been his son. And remember the howls about how racist that is. Obama may be many things, but an idiot is not on the list. While his right-flank detractors scream about the race-baiting of sending the Justice Department to look into what appears, prima facie to be a police-sponsored murder and attempted coverup, his left-flank detractors are angry because he’s not showing enough “black anger”α. Meanwhile, supporters of the accused killer remind that Officer Wilson is “innocent until proven guilty”, a right stolen from the late Michael Brown, and wag their fingers about “rule of law”, which in their opinion means a white cop can shoot whatever black person he wants, the department can try to lie about it, and there’s nothing suspicious to be seen in that.

Americans seem to think this is the better alternative. Apparently, we are supposed to be scared senseless of our own reflections.

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α As we noted last month:

In the shadow of what happened and is happening in Ferguson, I’ve noticed that even the days of the Trayvon Martin debacle are, apparently, forgotten in much of the press. Even the distinguished Marc Lamont Hill, disclaiming that he “didn’t have any unrealistic expectations for Obama”, seems to ignore history in order to complain that the president is somehow blind to “black anger”. In his CNN opinion piece, the Morehouse College professor seems to have forgotten the facts that (A) Mr. Obama is a politician, (B) Mr. Obama is a politician who holds an extraordinarily important and controversial office, and (C) the fact of Mr. Obama’s ethnic heritage effectively requires that he downplay “black anger”.

And let me be clear: “Black anger” would appear to be wholly appropriate; the question is whether Dr. Hill prefers quick gratification or real progress. Right or wrong, the fact is that justice for Americans with dark skin is still a long time coming; the trend is to respond to “black anger” by punishing black people. Dr. Hill’s desire for a cheap quickie apparently takes precedent over real progress.

Or does that seem harsh?

Even so, it is at least somewhat accurate. That is to say that while politicians might rush to empathize with victims of crime and other tragedy, a black president saying the same thing about a dead teenager that a lot of us might say in other situations about, say, a white teenager who died, became a controversy about racism—how dare a black president sympathize with the challenges facing the black community!

British Broadcasting Corporation. “Ferguson Protests”. 2 September 2014.

Hill, Marc Lamont. “Obama, can’t you see black anger in Ferguson?”. CNN. 15 August 2014.

The Fergie Shake (-down)

Jen Sorensen presents TURD:

The shooting was justified because we had video of him conspiring to defraud investors.  A real thug.A pre-emptive alert for the satire-challenged: this strip is obviously not endorsing violence against bankers. It IS saying that many in the financial world are real thugs who are never treated the way police often treat black citizens in Ferguson and many other places. The devastation caused by white-collar criminals—the loss of so many people’s homes and life savings, leading to broken families, poor health, depression, and suicide, has caused suffering on an immense scale. Yet bankers have to try very, very hard to get themselves arrested, and even then they usually aren’t successful.

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The Unfortunately Requisite Disclaimer.

Image note: Detail of cartoon by Jen Sorensen, 25 August 2014.

The Spirit of Lester Cowens … er … I Mean, Darren Wilson

 Well-wishers sign a poster in support of Wilson during a rally for him. (Huy Mach/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

Via The Washington Post, three paragraphs from the team of Carol D. Leonnig, Kimberly Kindy, and Joel Achenbach that, to the one, just do not seem surprising, yet, to the other, well, we would rather not have read.

The small city of Jennings, Mo., had a police department so troubled, and with so much tension between white officers and black residents, that the city council finally decided to disband it. Everyone in the Jennings police department was fired. New officers were brought in to create a credible department from scratch.

 Well-wishers sign a poster in support of Wilson during a rally for him. (Huy Mach/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)That was three years ago. One of the officers who worked in that department, and lost his job along with everyone else, was a young man named Darren Wilson.

Some of the Jennings officers reapplied for their jobs, but Wilson got a job in the police department in the nearby city of Ferguson.

While it is true we might wish to not read such paragraphs, well, reality is not so accommodating. And the thing is, no matter how annoying or discouraging or depressing or (poor you!) oppressive of the rich, Christian, white man it might seem, it is also real. We cannot un-read it. Neither can we ignore it.

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