I logged onto Facebook today for the first time in about 48 hours. High up in my newsfeed I found a photo that set my blood to an absolute boil. The depth of arrogance, the extreme delusional thinking, the total lack of ethical foundation infuriated me beyond even CNN reports on the Ferguson riots themselves. How could anyone honestly believe such complete nonsense?
So I did what I normally do when an internet photo makes my blood boil: I went looking for the source. Using Google image search took me awhile to learn, but now it has become as routine as getting out of bed in the morning. And like getting out of bed, sometimes it goes smoothly and sometimes it brings a boatload of aches and pains. Fortunately, this time it went smoothly and in the very first search I found the original post with the original photo:
Riverfront Times: Ferguson Protesters Get Kicked Out of Protest Sites
I was even more horrified than I had been originally. There is no justification for pillaging local businesses and burning them to the ground. None whatsoever. What happened during the riots in Ferguson is a disgrace to everyone on both sides of the Darren Wilson/Micheal Brown incident. I don't care what color your skin is or how oppressed you feel. Nothing justifies burning down the businesses your community depends on. However, it is just as unethical to then corrupt the agenda of peaceful protesters in order to prove a point about the violent ones. To desecrate a genuine protest sign in order to inflame racial divisions is just as unforgivable as giving a speech demanding violent protest in response to an event that feels oppressive. Whoever edited this photo in order to anger people like me into irrational outbursts that would only serve to inflame an already explosive situation is just as morally bankrupt as those who looted local businesses and then burned them to the ground. The only possible purpose of such an edit would be an attempt to create an equally violent response. The provocateur is the equal of the animals they unleash.
Here is the original sign. I honestly believe this protester has either refused to accept the reality of what happened when Micheal Brown was shot and killed by Darren Wilson or simply not been given enough facts to make an informed judgment. Micheal Brown's death was a tragedy, but it was neither unjustified nor inexcusable. It was simply the inevitable result of a thug choosing to react in violence to questioning by a police officer. If you pick a fight with a cop you might get beaten into a coma or you might wind up dead. Either way, it was not the cop who picked the fight so it is not the cop who holds the blame.
Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin both died because they failed to exercise common sense when confronted by someone questioning the motivation behind their behavior. Responding to a simple inquiry in anger and violence is a very good way to wind up dead. Don't get so angry at someone who questions you that you start throwing punches. If you do, they just might pull out a gun and shoot you. Respond with courtesy. If the situation escalates, defend yourself with whatever force is necessary to extricate yourself from the situation and no more. The secret to a long life in a violent world is to never throw the first punch while always being prepared to throw the last one.
The first law of victory is to avoid conflict completely. If conflict does not occur then no one dies. Honest negotiation and realistic compromise is the key to avoiding winding up dead or sending someone else to wind up dead in your place. You cannot lose a war that is never fought. The second law of victory is surprise. When negotiation fails, strike hard, strike fast, and use overwhelming force. This is never the first law because it contains huge risk. There is always the very real possibility you have underestimated the opposition's ability and willingness to exact extreme violence to achieve their agenda. This is where both Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin failed. They believed negotiation was not an option and they responded with violence, but both men severely underestimated their opponent and they paid for that failure with their lives. The third law of victory is knowing when to make a full tactical retreat. If you strike and only after striking discover that you have misjudged the opposition then either surrender immediately or withdraw as quickly as possible with as little damage as is realistic. By successfully withdrawing you will live to fight another day. The fourth and final law of victory is don't make the same mistakes the next time around. Learn from your mistakes. Improve your intelligence gathering. Improve your negotiation skills. Improve your ability to respond. Finally, and most important of all, never engage an enemy when you know you will lose.