Folks are right to be enraged by the events which have occurred (and are occurring) in Ferguson, Missouri. These events are a demonstration of the state of race relations in the country, and everyone should be concerned. However, despite the implicit claims of America’s race hustlers, moral cowards, and sundry other folks in self-indulgent denial, we do not live in Mississippi circa 1956. No one should deny the continued existence of racism or bias, nor the existence of police officers using excessive force. We should, however, not be so blinded by the sparkling rhetoric of the race baiters among us – rhetoric deliberately designed to give the impression that racism remains a pernicious problem in the U.S..
Racism is not the problem, race relations are. These are not the same.
The race baiting, racial tension, and acts of force against persons and property in Ferguson following the shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer are a symptom of that problem. Let’s get the facts straight before we proceed.
First, Michael Brown and Darren Wilson – the officer who fatally shot Brown – are responsible for their own actions, as are the “demonstrators” whose chosen form of protest is to attack police, loot stores, and destroy property in their community.
It is becoming apparent that actions by Brown, whatever they were, led directly to his death. This is clear from statements made by police and eyewitnesses to the shooting. It is also possible that Officer Brown used inappropriately lethal force against Brown, as suggested by conflicting eyewitness testimony. Whether he did or not, or whether Brown’s own actions make the shooting justifiable will be determined by a proper judicial process. What exactly happened at noon on a sunny day in Ferguson, Missouri, however, cannot be determined by knee jerk cries of “No Justice, No Peace”, by attacking police, destroying property, by looting stores, or by unsupported claims of racial animus. The determination of responsibility in Brown’s death can only be made after an objective investigation of the actions of Officer Wilson and Michael Brown.
Meanwhile, it is ludicrous to argue that the release of video showing Brown involved in criminal activity immediately preceding being shot is somehow a character assassination. Mr. Brown’s character – not whether he is responsible for his own death but his character – needs no attempt at assassination. The video is a clear demonstration of Brown’s character. Brown alone is responsible for his character as demonstrated on that video.
The smoke and mirrors of some of Brown’s supporters who allege mischaracterization of Brown by the police does nothing but add fuel to the existing fire.
Despite attempts to direct our attention away from Brown and Officer Wilson’s interactions, it is clear that some as of yet unknown event(s) took place at Wilson’s squad car which led directly to Brown being shot. What those events were will be determined in time. For now the best approach on the question of the shooting is to wait for the facts to come in. At this point any uncritical, unthinking emotional commitment to an opinion regarding responsibility is an admission that one believes the facts are irrelevant. Commitment to a firm opinion is a confession that one is uninterested in knowing the truth.
There are some, though, who would wish us to ignore both the fact of Mr. Brown’s character and the eyewitness testimony that Brown argued with Officer Wilson, that he rushed at the officer, and that he attempted to grab the officer’s gun. They’d have us form an opinion solely on the fact Brown was black and unarmed. They would have us turn away from the question “what happened at that car?” They would have us ignore any actions on Brown’s part which may have contributed to his being shot. By implication these folks wish to convince anyone who will listen that personal responsibility is irrelevant if and when young black men are arrested, questioned, or shot by the police. These folks also wish us to believe that shooting at people, destroying property, and looting stores are acts of protest on moral par with, say, the civil rights demonstrations in Selma.
Are we to ignore the fact that the acts of civil disobedience of the 1950s and 60s, at least those engaged in by the likes of Dr. King, were non-violent? Selma’s heroes did not rob stores, they changed minds through quiet dignity in the face of actual racism. Are we to ignore the fact that the race related protests of the 50s and 60s were a response to specific , obvious acts of racism but that, in the Ferguson situation, absolutely nothing has come out thus far to suggest that Brown’s race had anything to do with his shooting?
For some, however, the fact of Brown’s race should be a consideration – in fact the primary consideration – in forming an opinion. For these folks race is the all-that-one-needs-to-know factor in cases like Brown’s.
One is forced to ask: “why?”
Race hustlers like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the New Black Panther Party show up whenever and wherever we have accusations of police misconduct and racial bias. More often than not these claims have turned out to be patently false. Recall if you will the Duke Lacrosse and Tawana Brawley fiascos. Both of these cases involved young black women alleging that they’d been raped by racist white men.
In the Duke Lacrosse case, Jesse Jackson was there. Jackson supports her even today, offering to pay the accuser’s tuition even if her story was false. Not only were the players completely exonerated, but the original prosecutor, Mike Nifong, was disbarred.
In the Brawley case, Brawley through in rape accusations against a public official and a police officer, feces, and racial epithets scrawled on her body, apparently for dramatic effect. Al Sharpton was right there supporting Brawley , alleging widespread racial bias and corruption. Sharpton began his public career as a race hustler with the Brawley mess. When Brawley’s lies were exposed, Sharpton quickly disappeared from her side. He has never, however, repudiated Brawley, never apologized, never acknowledged error on his part. To this day Sharpton claims he is convinced by Brawley’s tale, despite a complete lack of evidence to support it.
Recall also the arrest of Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at his home. It culminated in the now infamous Beer Summit with Gates, arresting officer Sgt. James Crowley, and President Obama. Sharpton called that arrest “police abuse or racial profiling”. In the end it was about miscommunication and about distrust of the officer on the part of Professor Gates, and had nothing to do with Gate’s race.
Have Jackson and Sharpton ever acknowledged error? Have they apologized for escalating racial tension? What do you think?
Then we of course have the Trayvon Martin case. There also was a rush to judgment by many. There also were claims of racial bias. There also was an exoneration of the accused, this time at jury trial in which the jury determined that race played no part in the case. In the Martin case the jury decided Martin had attacked George Zimmerman and that Martin’s killing was an act of self defense. Still there are many who would criticize or condemn the jury’s findings, insisting that justice was not served. Contrary to what some might wish to believe, trials are the place where justice is served. Can juries make mistakes or, as in the O.J. Simpson case, give us nullification verdicts out of anger and frustration? absolutely. Still, the courtroom is where justice is meted out.
In cases like Trayvon Martin’s (and Michael Brown’s)people like Jackson and Sharpton would have us ignore the behavior of Martin (and Brown), choosing instead to deflect blame away from the issue of personal responsibility. They insist we focus instead on allegations of widespread racism or bias. This while they ignore the genuine problems of many in minority communities.
The race hustling and denial needs to stop. Before it can be stopped it’s root must be challenged.
What possible motive could the race hustlers have, beyond the spot light? What precisely is the weapon yielded by these folks which allows them to get away with being so self evidently wrong for so long? Surely it is not their policy ideas or any actual benefit they’ve been to the folks they claim to speak for.
Where, after all, are Jackson, Sharpton, and the New Black Panther party on the real and present dangers facing many in black America?
Where were they when 26 young black men were shot by other young black men in one week last year on the streets of Chicago? Jackson and Sharpton were silent. Where are they on the issue of 72% of black children born to unwed mothers? Where are they on the fact that, in 2012, there were more black babies killed by abortion in New York City than were born there? Young black women are beaten or killed by their black male partners on a scale that terrorizes one’s conscience, yet Sharpton and Jackson are no where on it. They choose instead to cozy up to the likes of Tawana Brawley and Crystal Gail Mangum.
When folks like Bill Cosby and Dr. Ben Carson direct our attention to the day to day, real world problems – problems intimately connected to the factor of personal responsibility – the Sharptons and Jacksons of the world argue that black men such as these are at best self loathing and, at worst, Uncle Toms.
When, celebrating the Brown v Board of Education decision, Cosby bemoans the fact of widespread illiteracy and violence of many black children and young people, the poverty pimps among us were quick to complain about Cosby ‘airing the community’s dirty laundry’. Cosby was wise to remind them that folks can ‘see our dirty laundry every day at 3:00’.
Dr. Carson and Cosby recognize the real world problems of many in black America, yet it is the Sharptons of the world many turn to when incidents like the shooting of Michael Brown occur.
The answer is simple. Sharpton, Jackson, the New Black Panther Party, and others like them offer people a moral blank check. If, after all, one can blame the police, blame racism, or blame ‘the system’, one can evade responsibility for one’s own actions.
These folks claim they are after ‘social justice’ by chasing down supposed racial bias and abuse of authority, but when these events turn out to be at best hot air or, at worst, complete fabrications, the poverty pimps scatter – without apology or explanation. They would have us ignore criminal acts or problem behavior by poor minorities if it helps to serve the supposedly larger interests of ‘disparity’, ‘inequity’, and ‘racial parity’. This refusal to recognize the relevance of personal responsibility – not to mention the real and present dangers facing real world people – does not serve the interest of justice. As philosopher Ayn Rand notes
“It is not justice or equal treatment that you grant to men when you abstain equally from praising men’s virtues and condemning men’s vices. What your impartial attitude declares, in effect, is that neither the good nor the evil may expect anything from you – whom do you betray and whom do you encourage?”
Race hustlers do not offer ‘social justice’, they offer moral agnosticism and free reign to thugs to do what they will regardless of consequence.
Some are then prepared to sell out their souls and their own community if they can hold on, for a day, a moment, or a lifetime to the belief “I couldn’t help myself”; ” “I didn’t do it”; “It’s all their fault”. These folks seek the moral blank check which is the equivalent of declaring “people should never respond with genuine justice to my criminality or self-destructive behavior because I’m poor and black”.
These individuals are eager to accept a moral blank check, and the race hustlers are eager to cash in on such moral cowardice. The race hustlers can then gain media attention and support for their entitlement agenda – said support being derived from all the media attention. After all, if the race hustlers can direct attention away from the question of responsibility, they can avoid all the hard work that must be done to deal with real world problems. In order to avoid that hard work they must encourage others to evade the responsibility of fixing their own flaws.
The real world problems of many in black America continue to percolate, threatening to destroy yet another generation of young blacks. Meanwhile, the race hustling and the blame game directed against whites peaks resentment which comes from being falsely accused. This resentment seeps into our daily conversations about race – if and when we have them at all – prompting further cries of ‘bias’, ‘racism’, and ‘white privilege’, as if these cries could and will dispel the just cause of righteous indignation.
Please excuse the trite expression, but we have come to a fork in the road. One path leads to more events like those in Ferguson, Missouri. That path leads to more blood baths like that in Chicago. The other path leads to the realization of the dreams of Frederick Douglas and Dr. King. If we are to take that road we cannot be further blinded by the self-serving rhetoric of the poverty pimps among us. The hard race baiting of folks like Sharpton leads only to chaos. The soft racism of those who evade or deny the real and present dangers confronting many in black America leads only to distrust. It leads to the continued meltdown of race relations. Both of these type of leaders are equally responsible for the present state of affairs.
We require real leadership on the problem of race relations and on the other real world problems we’ve failed to discuss and handle. Race hustlers are not moral leaders, they are cowards and opportunists. The folks who are eager to accept a moral blank check are worse. At least Al Sharpton got a talk show from all his race baiting. Those who buy into his crap get only food stamps, broken schools, and the pretense that they have ‘done something’.