On August 8, political leaders, national activists and hundreds of people including Cornel West and the relatives of Eric Garner and Oscar Grant came to Ferguson, Missouri. They chanted, sang and marched in a vigil to commemorate the death of a young black man who was shot in the act of attacking a police officer, because a false account by one of the young man’s pals created racial division, began an unraveling of trust in police nation wide, ruined the police officer’s career, prompted attacks on the grand jury system, and launched a lie, “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!,” that dominated protests in many cities for months. There are many destroyed businesses and lost lives because of the events in Ferguson last year.
Why is anyone commemorating them?
Because, in this issue, facts don’t matter. Or “Facts Don’t Matter.” This will be a regular mantra on Ethics Alarms, until they do.
Activists urged the crowd not to let Brown’s death “be in vain.” What does that mean? Mike Brown threw his life away. He was no martyr, no hero. Can an ethical and positive movement be constructed on a false narrative and a phony hero?
Sunday’s event in Ferguson was duplicated in New York, where protesters gathered on Sunday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and at a government building in Harlem before a planned vigil in Manhattan’s Union Square; in Ypsilanti, Mich., where demonstrators gathered at a library park for a rally demanding an end to racial injustice; at Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and even in London. More demonstrations were planned for Monday in St. Louis and in Philadelphia.
“Every city, I want us to close it down!” Anthony Shahid, a local activist, shouted into a microphone before leading the crowd in a chant, “If we can’t get it, shut it down!”“They didn’t give us no justice, so they ain’t going to get no peace,” Bud Cuzz, another activist and leader of the group, Lost Voices, told the Ferguson crowd. How so? What would have been “justice” for Shahid, Cuzz and the rest? Trying Wilson on imaginary charges?
Apparently so. At one point during the march, Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., said, “This moment was sponsored by Darren Wilson.”
No, in fact it was sponsored by Dorian Johnson, a biased news media, a corrupt local police force and cynical politicians seeking to get votes by “energizing the base.” Now the murder rates are sky high from coast to coast, good cops are afraid to do their jobs, bad cops are still illegally shooting suspects of all colors, and race relations, polls show, are perceived as being the worst it has been in decades.
And whites are being made to apologize for suggesting that “all lives matter.”
Good job, all.
The protesters spoke of the need to overhaul the system, to end racism and unfair treatment of blacks by the police. These are crucial issues, and need to be taken seriously. They will not be taken seriously, however, as long as the false Ferguson narrative is continually set at the center of the discussion. If these are legitimate concerns, then there must be genuine examples of racist police bias against black citizens. There are. Those, and not the manufactured Ferguson lies, need to be the sources of rallies and symbolic anniversaries. Ferguson symbolizes exploitation, scapegoating, bad journalism, political manipulation and “Facts Don’t Matter.”
Integrity has to matter.
No respectable, successful, ethical movement can grow from such poisoned ground.
26 thoughts on “Protest Ethics: Of Ferguson, “Facts Don’t Matter” And The Unethical Anniversary”
Have you got a source on the high murder rates? I haven’t seen one yet (this may be entirely due to my idiosyncratic selection of preferred news sources).
There are many, and it has been written about since June. The most drmatic has been in Baltimore, where police have told the media that they are abandoning proactive policing in reaction to the Freddie Gray episode, which was a Son of Ferguson.
There’s this: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32995911
Seems kind of funny that the factors the experts later in the article say militate against a so-called Ferguson effect may arguably support the concept in a broader sense.
Naturally, there were violence and police shootings last night, apparently triggered by the demonstrations. I’m sure the activists are thrilled.
Maybe they all went to an opera and saw a white tenor made up to look like Othello and finally had enough…
Query: I’ve begun to wonder whether insisting on black/African tenors to sing Othello (or play him in Shakespeare) isn’t as bad as affirmative action. The part should go to the best voice available. If they want to put that voice (or actor) in black face, fine. Why should a fine tenor or actor lose out because of the color of his skin? I think reserving the role for only black/Africans is unethical, as is affirmative action. How’d you like to pay $250 a seat to hear the best black/African tenor they could find? No thanks.
Valid points. In line with our discussion in he other thread- in all acting, a balance is struck between what characteristics a particular role requires and what characteristics a set of actors bring to the table. In simple terms let’s say you need a black guy, need a tenor, and need a muscular guy and need a good dancer and need a man who 5’8″ tall, but your pool of available actors is:
A: a black, deep base, very muscular, awful dancer, and 5’9″
B: a white, pitch perfect tenor, decent tone (but no bodybuilder), decent dancer and 5’5″
But the absolutely necessary quality is whether or not he’s a tenor, then you pick person B and hope makeup and other visual effects offset the deficiencies.
Deciding automatically to pick the black guy so that race trumps all other qualities (including the absolutely necessary one) is affirmative action.
Deciding to just change the character (as zoebrain suggests) is fine, so long as the audience knows they aren’t watching a traditional take on the story but a new interpretation, but it isn’t fine if the goal is a traditional take.
Deciding to throw your hands up and quit (as tgt suggests- since according to him the show can’t be done ethically- which he has yet to prove) is a non-starter- you freeze Art and expression cold.
To quibble of course:
Making up a white guy to look black isn’t “black face”. As black face is a particular style of make up used to make whites look like they possess ludicrously exaggerated African characteristics in order to play equally ludicrous stereotypes.
A black criminal was shot by a white police officer.
The death of the criminal set off a nationwide protest against police brutality, excessive force, etc.
In the Ferguson incident, to all appearances, there is no justifiable cause for protest.
But in an excitable, popular, and emotional environment, this does not seem to matter. Desire and will mold it to be what perception desires it to be. And perception (at least seen through the eyes of many Black Americans) desires to see Ferguson and all other incidents that have been publicized, as evidence of racially-motivated violence, still extant racial prejudice, etc.
Obviously those things exist. Yet too unprecedented opportunity also exists.
In this conluence of the real (of facts), of desire, of emotion, and of course of ‘narrative’, no one can arrive at a truthful base.
I have the sense that there is an operative truth here, and if it were stated openly, and acknowledged, then at least ‘all this’ could be understood. But I sense that it cannot be said.
This is the part where, in my view, everything gets impossibly confused. Yes, no doubt, many white people have rather profound suspicions and doubts about the aptitude – and desire – of black people to take full advantage of ‘the American opportunity’ to create themselves as strong, empowered citizens, moving upward on all levels.
And many white people have the sense that blacks exploit the victim’s position to gain concessions. But the ‘concessions’ gained are not employed to create ‘as strong, empowered citizens, moving upward on all levels’.
And a good percentage are classically racist and see this people as incapable of lifting themselves up, and they simply don’t like them, plain and simple.
It seems to me that this points to an ‘impossible’ situation.
The crazy thing about all of this is that (all-caps incoming) WHITE-ON-BLACK CRIME HAS BEEN, AND IS STILL, DECLINING IN AMERICA, WHETHER BY POLICE OR OTHERWISE.
How we managed to get a new race-war in a time when things are getting BETTER is a testament to the rational and level-headed leadership we have enjoyed during the Obama era. I’m sure it’s in his Rules for Radicals playbook somewhere that race wars are a great way to motivate social change.
Now that’s an interesting point.
Hanlon’s Razor. In fact, it should be the theme of the entire breadth of the Obama Administration.
“WHITE-ON-BLACK CRIME HAS BEEN, AND IS STILL, DECLINING IN AMERICA, WHETHER BY POLICE OR OTHERWISE.”…..
while the epidemic of grossly-disproportionate black-on-white violent crime continues unabated and ignored, while everyone is on the defensive over white “racism”.
How’s this for a headline: “Mike Brown anniversary: Police shoot man in Ferguson – CNN.com”? Way to stay classy, CNN.
And then at the end of every Ferguson updated they reiterate their moronic version of the unarmed teenager being gunned down by the white police man. Awful.
Amazing how you have to go to a British paper to find out what’s really going on in Missouri.
Be sure to check out the Darren Wilson police pig. To paraphrase Rahm Emmanuel, I guess you should never let a good opportunity to have a bar-b-que go to waste.
You know, as far as I can discover, I was the first and maybe only one who published a piece on why the whole anniversary was a terrible idea. Now some people are dead, and Ferguson, which was trying to recover, is back in Hell. Will anyone else publicly call out these “activists” for the irresponsible fools they are?
Nope. The stories always give precedence to the opinions of the relatives of the suspects over what the police say happened. It’s interesting that the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons seem to be steering clear of these protests. They seem to have left the field to all these amateur shit stirrers. Maybe because in Ferguson and the poorest parts of Baltimore there are no corporate treasuries to shake down. Or maybe they’re just on Martha’s Vineyard playing golf.
Whip crackers are only needed when work isn’t getting done.
For the Leftists, their plantation is very productive right now, so their whip crackers can take a break for a moment.
Speaking of the opinions of suspects’ relatives, in the photos in that last article you linked, the dad of that scumbag who got shot by the police the other night after shooting at cops was quoted as saying ” there’s more to this than they’re saying”. Wow. I’m guessing that this guy is a moron, and passed the gene on to his son. Morons often believe that everyone else is also a moron, and will put stock into something like this. The pandering of the media doesn’t help. So, this angel, a pal of the “Gentle Giant”, by the way, was framed? Those dastardly cops! Oh,almost forgot. This is a must-see:
Deblasio, what a horse’s ass. Crime went up this summer, therefore summer is to blame. I’ll bet he also thinks night causes day, because day follows night. Then there’s the sociologist, sniveling about socioeconomic disadvantage being to blame. Fool! Blame anybody or anything but the beloved criminals. Stating the obvious isn’t going to keep him employed, though, so he’s got to ascribe it to something only he has the skill set to recognize.
Of course it’s the Ferguson effect. Of course cops are pulling back. I would. In fact, I wish they’d pull back entirely, until the ingrates are begging them to return.
This is in reference to the link Other Bill provides in his above post.
I have a good post colonial idea the current administration should consider: Reduce the prison population in the U.S. by sending the unlawfully imprisoned to Cuba as a gesture of good will.
That WOULD be an appropriate gesture. Castro, may he rot in hell, did exactly that to us in the early 90s.
A reverse Mariel? I suggest we crowd them all into Gitmo, then evacuate the entire garrison and tell the Castro boys it’s all theirs.