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.
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.