So, let me begin by saying that I’m back from my hike, and will be resuming blogging forthwith.
Next, let me say that I am not going to talk directly about what happened in Ferguson, Missouri. Frankly, I don’t know enough about what happened there to offer a halfway decent opinion on the matter, save that, to be totally honest, I don’t trust anybody involved in the initial altercation.
What I am going to talk about is the national reaction and what it indicates about the state of 21st-century America. My chosen repreentatives, oddly enough, come in the form of two Matts: Matt Stauffer and Matt Walsh.
Stauffer’s blog, while an extreme example–my apologies, but Martin Niemoller is completely out of place in this situation–has most of the tropes of the reaction of the American left. That is: The enforcers of political authority are the ones at fault when things go south, this is a sign of incipient fascism, no one cares about black people, and the only reason that force was used was because the cops wanted to break heads.
Walsh’s blog is a lot closer to the reaction of the American right to this case, and brings in the following tropes: the police aren’t the problem, the policed are the problem, why don’t blacks get upset over black-on-black crime, those hating on the cops will be first one to call them for help when things go outh, and the looting that occurred basically means that there’s no actual problem on law enforcement’s end.
Both of these are…problematic. At best.
Well, for one thing, absolutely none of that has to with the question that started this whole mess: namely, was the shooting of Michael Brown a cold-blooded murder or self-defense gone awry?
For another thing, each seems to assume that their chosen side–for Stauffer, the protestors, for Walsh, the cops–are blameless in this matter due to provocation of various kinds.
Which leads me to the state of the nation. The fact is, if one read Stauffer’s blog and Walsh’s blog without context and without location names, one would wonder if the two were describing the same series of events. Stauffer has jackboots smashing freedom and black people into the asphalt, while Walsh has a band of heroes defending society against the lawless self-destructive hordes.
Thing is, this is highly representative of the two main narratives in American politics: taking over and taking back. “Taking over” is the narrative of the Left, and runs something like this: “The oppressed minorities must fight their oppressors and take their rightful place as leaders of America (led, of course, by white liberals).” “Taking back” is the narrative of the Right, and goes like this: “The “oppressed minorities” and their white liberal masters are wrecking the nation and we (true Americans, as we define it) must stop them.”
These two narratives influence how everyone sees current events, and often act as a sort of filter for inconvenient facts. Stauffer refuses to see the rioting of the protesters, Walsh refuses to see the excesses of the police. I could go on, but do not believe that I need to.
Look, I don’t know how to fix this mess, beyond something I’ve said before. Treat people like people, not monsters.
‘Til next time,
Lowell Van Ness