Our Better Angels

I served just shy of a full term on Macon, GA’s City Council. When I took my radio job, I had to step down. In the time I was there, there were multiple times black members of the City Council had to challenge the local police force for what they saw as overkill or police abuse. From my vantage point, not every incident was as these council members claimed. But there were enough times that no one should dismiss the issue. On more than one occasion, there were legitimate grievances about police abuse.


Too many law and order conservatives want to ignore the police abuse as libertarian or left-wing whining about law and order. But there are too many numerous incidents to think there is not a problem. I know of more than one black minister pulled over randomly by police. I have had more than one friend pulled over randomly and the only common denominator is that they are not white. None were charged with crimes, but all were treated as if they were guilty of something.

Likewise, a young black man tends to more often be involved in violence than young white men. From 1980 to 2008, “blacks accounted for 52.5% of homicide offenders.

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, in the year 2008 black youths, who make up 16% of the youth population, accounted for 52% of juvenile violent crime arrests, including 58.5% of youth arrests for homicide and 67% for robbery. Black youths were overrepresented in all offense categories except DUI, liquor laws and drunkenness.


There is a serious problem in the black community and when any white person raises the issue, too many people scream “racism.” Look at [mc_name name=’Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000570′ ]’s comments about family troubles in cities. The left savaged him for saying what large numbers of people in the black and white community agree with.

The sad truth is that too many young black men have been, for so long, told they are victims that they’ve started acting as if they are not responsible for their actions and that society is out to get them.


And you know what?

In a lot of cases, it is true. Society is out to get them. Instead of judging them individually, police and others judge young black men collectively. In a group? Probably up to no good, whether it is true or not.

Conservatives have a tendency to say young black men need to rise so far about the stereotyped behavior they cannot be blamed. Liberals say that is unfair. And the truth is that in some cases they could rise as close to the standard of Jesus as possible and some policeman somewhere still might pull them over.

If only we could all rely on our better angels. But I am a pessimist on this issue. Too many people on both sides have too much of an incentive to keep tensions going. It is a TV ratings bonanza for cable news and reality shows. Too many profit off it.

Listening to the reporters question the District Attorney in Ferguson proved it. The agenda was apparent. The press corps was not interested in facts or justice, but social justice. They were interested in the grievance. One reporter tried to claim, after the DA recounted the facts, that it was Officer Wilson who had said Michael Brown charged toward him. Actually, it was a black witness. Another reporter asked a loaded question about how it was okay for police to shoot an unarmed black man with his hands down or in the air. Another yelled out asking how the DA could sleep with himself.

White liberals on twitter were positively Levitical in their demands that Officer Wilson be found guilty, then tried, for murder.


Ezra Klein of Vox went so far on twitter as to ask who represented Michael Brown before the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury is not there for either side to represent themselves. It is there to try to ascertain, as best as possible, fact and truth. It is a collection of citizens who are there to serve their community. And what did they find?

They found, and the facts showed, that the police officer was punched in the face while in his car. The facts showed the officer chased Michael Brown. The facts show that Michael Brown charged the police officer and was shot several times. The eyewitnesses who reported these things were black.

The facts and witnesses show that Michael Brown was a thief. The facts and witnesses show Officer Wilson was doing his job.

The facts and witnesses show that this is not a case of police harassment.

But the facts also show that Michael Brown was a son who had parents who love him. He is now dead and Officer Wilson’s career is ruined.

The facts also show it is impossible to have an honest conversation on these issues. There are too many agendas. Desired outcomes have become far more important than the legitimacy of processes that reach other outcomes. We cannot and will not move beyond this because the parties do not trust each other and no one trusts the institutions of government. We cannot move on and change when the media speculates that a Grand Jury should have indicted an innocent man on something just to stop rioting.


This is what happens when everything becomes political. Michael Brown’s death should not be political.

There is one last thing the facts show. The facts show that much of what the media initially reported, reporting even I relied on months ago, was simply wrong. There were no “hands up, don’t shoot,” there was no shot in the back, and there was never a media trying to be honest in getting facts, when instead they wanted some perverse honesty to a fabricated story.

None of the professional race baiters, fear mongers, and grievance peddlers can hold a candle to the media in Ferguson, MO. The collective behavior of the national and international media in Ferguson has been disgusting and we are all worse off because of it.


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