SOUTH FLORIDA, December 1, 2014 — The hug seen around the world will either become a force for good, or just a momentary snapshot in time between bouts of destruction.
When white police officer Darren Wilson killed black teenager Michael Brown, the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri erupted in flames. The evidence showed that Wilson acted in self-defense. Wilson had a spotless record after six years on the force. Brown had robbed a liquor store only hours before he died. Al Sharpton encouraged the black community to pull a Johnny Cochran. Everybody was supposed to “forget the evidence” and punish Wilson to make up for past racial wrongs.
A case that had nothing to do with race suddenly turned the criminal Brown into Rosa Parks and the professional Wilson into Bull Connor. Sharpton was playing himself. The man who blamed white law law enforcement officer Steven Pagones for raping black runaway Tawana Brawley was still stoking the racial fires. The man who attacked Jewish “diamond merchants” and created the climate that resulted in Yankel Rosenbaum being stabbed to death was still rabble rousing. “No justice, no peace” became a meaningless slogan for mob vengeance against a man who has dedicated his life to saving lives of every race.
Darren Wilson resigned from his job, but for the Sharptonistas that will never be enough. Community organizing requires perpetual war. There must always be an enemy. Over the Thanksgiving Day weekend, Wilson’s home address was published in the New York Times.
Meanwhile, Sharpton was on to other pursuits, as Walmart was connected to Ferguson by agitators exploiting Michael Brown’s death so they could tear down the entire capitalist system. As expected, Attorney General Eric Holder is attempting to indict Wilson on federal charges in a move that reeks of racial politics and contradicts the facts of the case.
President Obama has offered the most tepid criticism of rioters while welcoming Sharpton to the White House. Rioting has spread to other cities across the nation.
In the midst of burned buildings, destroyed businesses and community wreckage came a ray of hope. Two people from disparate backgrounds decided to give peace a chance.
In Portland, Oregon, 12-year old Devonte Hart is a black youth who was adopted by a white family. Bret Barnum is a white police officer.
Hart fears ending up like dead like Michael Brown, a future victim of police brutality. Unlike Brown, young Hart is all heart. In the midst of the turmoil and anger, Hart held up a sign that read, “free hugs.”
While Hart deserves praise for his positive message, equal praise must be given to Barnum.
Barnum chose to reach out. Barnum chose to motion Hart over to him. Barnum chose to look past the prism of race and see Hart for who and what he is, a human being in desperate need of receiving what he was offering. Barnum asked Hart about his life. When Hart broke down in tears, Barnum referenced the sign. Hart w as not offering hugs only for black people or young people. He was not exempting police officers.
He was offering hugs for everybody.
Barnum asked for the hug. Hart delivered it. Photographer Johnny Nguyen captured the moment for all to see. The moment was beautiful. What matters is what happens next.
Hardened cynics will scoff, dismissing the moment as no more meaningful than when Rodney King asked “C-c-c-cant we all j-j-just get along?”
A more appropriate response is to ask what works and then do it.
The Barack Obama approach has not worked. Racial tensions have increased, and Obama’s personal biases make it impossible for him to heal those tensions. Obama is not entirely to blame, nor is he blameless.
The Eric Holder approach has clearly not worked. Using the Department of Justice to pursue racially motivated prosecutions, or not pursue them, only exacerbates hostilities across the racial spectrum.
The Al Sharpton approach will never work, unless the goal is to financially enrich Al Sharpton. His racial grandstanding has gotten innocent people of all races killed in riots that he overtly encouraged.
The Devonte Hart and Bret Barnum approach does work. The evidence is there for everyone to see.
Sharpton spreads poison. Hart and Barnum have the cure. It will be up to every human being to decide which approach they choose to embrace.
For those who want to help the world burn, Holder and Sharpton are available for anybody wanting to grab a pitchfork and torch an innocent person or property.
For those wanting a better world, Hart and Barnum showed a different approach.
For a better world, we all should want the elimination of the Sharpton Barnum and Bailey racial grievance circus and more Barnum and Hart outstretched hands and caring hearts.