November 25, 2014

Thoughts on Ferguson


Let's suppose next spring I return to Ohio and while I am in Cleveland escorting my father to the VA Clinic I find myself in a confrontation with a black police officer. There are a couple of things I am not going to do. For starters, I'm not going to try to beat him up, not even if he is much smaller than I am and looks like an easy target. Nor will I pull out my concealed carry permit and demand to be treated like a colleague fighting for justice on the often violent streets of Cleveland's east side. Instead, I will inform the officer I have a CCW but I am not armed because while at the VA I am not allowed to be. I will cooperate with all of the officer's demands, no matter how ridiculous or humiliating. If required, I will allow myself to be handcuffed and arrested until the facts of our altercation can be made clear. I won't do these things or behave this way because I am afraid of blacks (I'm not), afraid of the police (laughable idea), or because I hate all forms of authority (even though I most certainly do). I will comply and not resist because that uniform and that badge represents a civic authority backed up by the voters of Cleveland and the taxes paid by hardworking Cleveland citizens. That cop represents the will and authority of the sovereign people of Cleveland City and beyond all else, I respect that sovereignty.

Forensic science and eyewitness testimony has now made it clear that Michael Brown did not respect the sovereign authority of the people of Ferguson, Missouri. He believed that Officer Darren Wilson had no right to accost him while he was walking down a sunny city street, no right to question his intent by walking in the middle of the road, and no right to order him on the ground and attempt to place him under arrest. Michael Brown believed his personal sovereignty outweighed the will of the people of Ferguson, so much so that he was not required to pay for merchandise in their shops, not required to obey their laws, and not required to respect the symbol of their sovereignty, namely, a uniformed law enforcement officer appointed to represent their will. Michael Brown's inability to respect the sovereign power of the people of Ferguson and his refusal to obey the requests and requirements of their appointed representative meant he was subject to arrest. Instead of allowing himself to be arrested, he chose to violently oppose Officer Darren Wilson. According to Officer Wilson's testimony, Michael Brown not only resisted arrest, he struck Officer Wilson repeatedly, then withdrew, then charged at him again.

So why in the name of all that is holy are the people of Ferguson, Missouri fighting in their streets and burning down their local shops? Seriously. I cannot grasp the immense depths of delusional thinking required to assume that a Grand Jury decision not to prosecute a police officer exercising the authority they gave him somehow justifies destroying the businesses they depend on as well as the livelihood of their neighbors. This violence makes no sense to me at all. I don't care how angry they are. It is their votes that put the mayor and the city council in office and it is their taxes that pay the police force. If they don't like the Grand Jury decision (a decision made by their neighbors after two weeks examining the evidence) then circulate a petition, make some speeches, write a letter to the editor of the paper, another letter to the mayor, one to the chief of police, and one to the local city council representative. Vote against all of them who appear on the ballot in the next election, or better yet, organize a political campaign and run against them. This is your town, your police force, and your city government. You voted for it. You pay the taxes that go to their salary. Why would you loot the store Michael Brown robbed? Why would you burn the local grocery store you depend on to feed your family? Why would you burn the inventory of a used car lot owned by your neighbor? How does simple anger justify destroying your own home?

The problem in Ferguson, in Cleveland, in Detroit, and in every other city where "race relations" are tense is not black versus white or vice versa. The problem is not oppression of poor blacks by rich whites. The problem is a community of ignorant people who do not understand the real power they wield with their votes and their taxes. How many of those protesters voted in the last election? If they didn't vote, then why do they believe they have any right at all to be angry with the city government and the local police force? If you refuse to participate in the process then you cannot complain the process ignores you! That is completely delusional!

This case, along with the Trayvon Martin case, completely baffles me. I don't understand the reaction of the black community. They vote people into office and then complain the person they voted for does not represent them, so they vote for the same person again! Vote for someone else! If there is no one else, then run for office yourself! Stop burning your own neighborhood, fighting with your police force, and calling in outsiders like Al Sharpton who have no vested interest in your community. It's your city. Take charge of your life, participate in local politics, and stop acting like spoiled children. You are not children anymore. Stand up, be counted, and abide by the requirements of fair play. Stop hiding behind your emotions and be realistic. Channel your anger into research, politics, and realistic expectations. Of course you feel like you're the center of the universe. So do I. So does everyone. That does not make it real. Stop burning down your city. Do your homework and vote for people who represent your interests. This burning, looting, and fighting with riot police is childish. I don't care what color your skin is. Yes, you deserve better, but you won't get anything better unless you learn how the world works and then work within the system to make things better.

If you are a taxpaying citizen who votes in every election then you have power far beyond anything you can achieve through violent street demonstrations. Real power comes through intelligent participation in the political process. Real power does not come from the barrel of a gun and it does not come from burning down the local grocery store. Real power comes when you walk into the office of your local city representative and with one look at your voting record he or she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that you put them in that office and you can take it away just as easily. That, people of Ferguson, is real power.

Politico: Congressional Black Caucus Denounces Ferguson Grand Jury
Time: Outrage and Calls for Calm on Twitter as Violence Escalates
LA Times: Ferguson Shop Owner Suffers a Second Round of Violent Protests
Washington Post: Darren Wilson's Testimony
Fox News: Nationwide Protests Following Ferguson Decision