by Andrew Allen
Clash Daily Contributor
A “national conversation on race” has long been an item on the liberal wish list. Ferguson is a perfect place to begin. Not just the small town outside of St. Louis. But also the metaphoric Ferguson, as they use the town’s name to stand in for various social grievances. “They” in this case being the unreasonable mobs sowing seeds of discord in the wake of Michael Brown’s death.
Unreasonableness is a good quality to have if you don’t want facts to intrude into your “national conversation on race”. Limiting discussion to five words – “no”, “justice”, “peace”, “police”, and “racist” – helps trim down the discussion. It’s impossible to even begin dialogue with someone who’s preferred method of expression involves lighting a molotov cocktail, tossing it into someone’s business, and then cheering as their livelihood burns to the ground right before your eyes. That really cuts down the scope of conversation.
A conversation sufficiently narrowed conveniently omits Jermaine Jones. He was killed and three other black men wounded while standing on a street in Berkeley, Missouri which is next door to Ferguson. His sister had been shot three hours earlier. The greater St. Louis area is ranked by the FBI as the fourth deadliest city in America after Detroit, New Orleans, and Newark. In 2013 it rated 38 murders per every 100,000 residents.
Of the 1,265 murdered there between 2003 and 2012, University of Missouri-St. Louis criminologist David Klinger reports nearly 90 percent (1,138) were African American. Of the 1,265, roughly 1,025 were killed by other African Americans. By contrast, during the same period only two percent of deaths, about 22, involved white police officers — all thoroughly investigated and found to be legally justified.
It may be more comfortable to take to the streets because “my cousin, my sister, or even myself could be murdered” as a San Diego State University student said during a protest which shut down a stretch of I-5 in San Diego. Compared with St. Louis, San Diego is a much safer metropolitan area. In 2013 there were 38 murders in a population of 1.35 million. Simply put, violence — racially motivated or otherwise – isn’t rampant in San Diego. But it’s easier to pretend it is rather than discuss more difficult topics such as black on black crime.
Being unreasonable is also a good way to dissuade prying minds from digging too deeply into your agenda. For a supposedly grass roots movement built upon the tragic death of Michael Brown, the words of a Clemson University communications studies professor who joined their ranks seem misplaced. Chenjerai Kumanyika, interviewed while disrupting Black Friday shopping at St. Louis area Wal-Marts as part of the #BoycottBlackFriday campaign, said “capitalism is one of many systems of oppression”.
It’s a peculiar position to take, that capitalism is an instrument of oppression by denying upward economic mobility to people of color so the appropriate response is to destroy businesses that could provide upward economic mobility. The absence of economic opportunity is regularly cited by the left as the reason African-Americans struggle with crime, drugs, and deteriorating family conditions.
But today a Little Caesar’s restaraunt, burned and gone, no longer employs a dozen of Ferguson’s citizens. Natalie Dubose, who owned and operated a cake shop that was decimated by the riots is now struggling to be able to support her two children and contribute to Ferguson’s economic health. For those considering rebuilding, or those that had considered bringing new businesses into Ferguson, the specter of riots will weigh in on their decision.
The position of Kumanyika had little to do with reducing Ferguson’s 14.3 percent unemployment rate or lifting people of color out of poverty. Signs carried by many protestors identified their association with International A.N.S.W.E.R. — the acronym stands for “Act Now To Stop War And End Racism”. This is Ramsey Clark’s outfit. Ramsey, Defense Attorney for Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic Clark. A man of the far, far left.
And International A.N.S.W.E.R.? Marxist-Leninist. Joined at the hip with the socialist Worker’s World Party. A.N.S.W.E.R. views the United States as an illegitimate terrorist nation imposing a racist, sexist, homophobic, and imperialistic hegemony upon the world. Or in other words, they view America in typical leftist terms and are willing to use any opportunity to rabble rouse for their cause.
Their opportunism is evident. Media Research Center interviewed a Ferguson protester in DC. When asked if she was supportive of the violence unleashed following the grand jury’s decision she stated “No, that’s exactly what I’m supporting,”. The woman carried a sign that read “support the Ferguson Rebellion”.
Opportunistic too were Brandon Baldwin and Olajuwon Davis. They didn’t just support the violence, they were arrested for plotting to blow up the St. Louis Arch and kill Prosecutor Bob McCullough and Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson. Such are the aims of the “Ferguson Rebellion”. Why extremists like these have been allowed a free ride on Michael Brown’s coattails is easier ignored than talked about.
Far left miscreants aren’t the only opportunists. The media were quick to grab a preconceived narrative and run with it. They haven’t stopped. After Bob McCullough delivered the grand jury’s findings, reporters framed their questions to match the narrative. “What message do you think it sends to the community that says they have had numerous members of their community, young predominantly black males, killed by police with impunity” one asked, while another began “I think people looking at this from around the country are going to be struck by the fact that there is not a single law in the state of Missouri that protects and values the life of this young man who unquestionably was shot and killed dead”. Lopsided to a fault, their questions inform of their desire to perpetuate the narrative despite an astonishing body of evidence to the contrary.
In turn media reports, built upon the mythology of racist white cops hunting African Americans living under a legal system that affords them no protection, fuels the professonal grievance industry. Al Sharpton for example has involved himself in Ferguson for months, just as he has during other controversial and racially charged incidents. It’s a lucrative trade. Sharpton is worth an estimated $5 million. In 2011 his National Action Network paid him $240,000 anually for his work. Although undisclosed, his contract with MSNBC is reportedly worth more. No one seems willing to discuss the motives of professional grievance mongers though.
The media and the Al Sharpton-types are good at generating and perpetuating the worst of human character. They do so at the expense of the good news coming out of Ferguson. And there is a little bit to report. To date more than $200,000 in donations from Americans of all colors has been raised to help Natalie Dubose rebuild her bakery. New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson posted to social media very reflective and constructive thoughts discussing post-Ferguson America. These stories have been buried when they could have been central to our national conversation.
So yes, let’s have a national conversation on race and let’s use Ferguson as the starting point. Let’s dispense with the hashtag activism, five word vocabulary, and narrowminded narratives. Let’s put EVERYTHING on the table.
Andrew Allen grew up in the American southeast and for more than two decades has worked as an information technologies professional in Washington DC, southern California, and abroad variously in Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia. A former far-left activist, Allen became a conservative in the late 1990s, once emboldened to begin questioning his own leftist points of view. When not working IT issues or traveling Andrew Allen spends his free time with family, exercising, and writing.