Ferguson raises some deeper issues

Different sides to the protests in Ferguson

WASHINGTON, August 22, 2014 — There are two distinct narratives emerging from the events in Ferguson, Missouri. The first, which surfaced within hours of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police, posits that “the gentle giant” was shot six times by a police officer when he had his hands up and was either leaving the scene or attempting to surrender. This is a narrative of police brutality and the continued violation of civil rights of black citizens, especially of young black males.

The other narrative is that Brown had just robbed a convenience store, had been using marijuana, had been stopped by Officer Wilson and struggled with him, inflicting an eye injury on Wilson that required a trip to a local hospital. When Brown left the police car after striking Wilson, he was ordered to stop, he turned around, and advanced aggressively towards Wilson. Wilson then fired at Brown, first to stop him, then to drop him.

Those who favor this narrative claim that according to a medical examiner’s report, the six shots that hit Brown hit him as he faced the officer.

Too much already has been written about this event. What is needed is a thorough and calm investigation, without pressure from the likes of Al Sharpton or Eric Holder. Officer Wilson has not been charged with any crime yet; that would be the job of the grand jury, if it decides there are grounds to indict him.

But the news media jumped on this case with alacrity and unrestrained zeal, assuming that this case is “one more example of police violence against African Americans.” And political leaders and race hustlers have been quick to use it to advance their political agendas; these people have no shame, and seek to use the grief of the Brown family for their own purposes.

But there are some deeper issues this case raises, and they are not being discussed by the establishment media. Indeed, they are being studiously avoided.

Over the past 50 years, a benchmark template has gradually emerged as the standard mainstream template for judging race and racial relations in America. This template dominates today in our media, in our schools, in our politics, and in our culture. Both political parties pay obeisance to it. Hollywood inserts it into our films and evening television fare. All our networks and media, from MSNBC to Fox News, accept it. Our schools and universities inculcate it into the flabby brains of our children.

That template takes as given that — since blacks have suffered historic oppression, and since white Americans and Europeans are responsible for that racist oppression — events like the one in Ferguson are, ipso facto, the fault of the still-dominant white power structure and its continued oppression of blacks.

The long-range solution to this is a never ending stream of “reparations” — verbal, financial, electoral, educational, cultural — that must be imposed on the current (and future) white population. Even more, white people and their future progeny must be “sensitized” and “re-educated” to comprehend their substantial historic racism.

They have to understand that this “guilt” will never really go away. It’s like the stain Lady Macbeth’s hand: there is nothing that whites can do to remove it. Affirmative action, race preferences in education and in job placement (irrespective of ability), and a transformation of the culture, itself, may perhaps ease just a bit the sense of guilt carried by whites, but the burden and stain are permanent.

This sin of racism only affects whites. As Shelby Steele wrote in The Wall Street Journal about ten years ago, blacks are in fact not really capable of racism. Only whites, with their historic guilt and their position of power to oppress, can be true racists. And that is why in the present scheme of things, black-on-black crime (which is the great majority of crime among blacks) is much less important. It doesn’t represent the racism that is inherent in white (especially police) treatment of blacks.

As Steele wrote, under this template, there is a radical disconnect between how the races are viewed in the United States: “It is quite acceptable for either party to explicitly go after the black, Hispanic, or even the Jewish vote … But it is absolutely verboten for either party, or any white candidate, to appeal to whites as a racial identity group. Racial identity is simply forbidden to whites in America and across the entire Western world. Black children today are hammered with the idea of racial identity and pride, yet racial pride in whites constitutes a grave evil. Say ‘I’m white and I’m proud,’ and you are a Nazi…. White guilt—the need to win enough moral authority around race to prove that one is not a racist—is the price whites today pay for this history. Political correctness is the language that enables whites to show by wildly exaggerated courtesy that they are not racist; diversity does this for institutions.”

The presumption from the beginning in any event like that in Ferguson is: “It’s whitey’s fault. It’s another sign of white racism. By definition, the white man is guilty.”

There is another factor at play here, and it is more difficult to arrive at, but a major reality, none the less. It is actually what might be described as a “religious” aspect.  Decades ago the black Afro-French Marxist, Frantz Fanon, authored an influential book, The Wretched of the Earth (1961), in which he posited the fundamental innocence of the corporate black race who, he asserted, had been oppressed colonially and historically by European—White—imperialism and racism. Over the years, the dominant liberal view, now transformed largely into what scholar Dr. Paul Gottfried terms a “Cultural Marxist multiculturalism,” partook increasingly of this template, and, from a survey of texts in sociology, history, ethnographic studies, and biology, began to see “blackness” in a quasi-religious manner.

In a sense, then, over the centuries the black race, innocent thus by definition, has been “crucified” by imperialism and white “privilege.”  Salvation for historians like (white) Eric Foner, in his vitriolic diatribes against the “racist” white South, lies in being an “apostle” for “blackness.” Anything Al Sharpton says or does, even the most outrageous, is tolerated and okay, since he is speaking for the “wretched on the earth” who have suffered oppression, and, who, in at least a metaphorical sense, now occupy the place religiously of a corporate, terrestrial Jesus Christ. Any hope for salvation for whites can only be achieved by admitting and expiating their historic “sins,” making reparations, and praising and worshipping at the feet of any and every black personality highlighted by the media, whether the latest athlete in the news (e.g., Tiger Woods, LeBron James, etc.), the latest Hollywood phenomenon, or our incredibly brilliant black president.

And thus the outrage in Ferguson. It does not really matter that Brown was guilty of anything or not. As a young black male killed by a white cop, in a sense he takes the place of Jesus Christ as the innocent, almost angelic “gentle giant,” who by definition is truly pure and is now a “martyr.” Once again a black male is the victim of historic white racism, and a symbol of the ongoing struggle of oppressed blacks to “resurrect” themselves against the evil and white colonial class [AKA, the evil Sanhedrin].

The fatal fallacy of the “civil rights” revolution and, equally, of much of current mainstream conservatism, has been to think that all that is needed to cure America’s complex racial history is “equal opportunity,” that once the civil rights laws enacted in the 1960s came into effect, that once Brown vs. the Board of Education was decided in 1954, that America would move into a glorious “multi-racial” society, in which “a man would be judged on the basis on his character” and his ability.

Such wishful thinking is misplaced and founded on a misreading of naturally unequal human nature, and now has been contorted by the radical politicization of our culture by the followers of figures like Marxist Frantz Fanon.

There will be no improvement until this neo-Marxist template is overturned, and that will require writing and speaking some harsh realities, not just about race, but about our decaying cultural milieu. And that depends on Americans beginning to understand that for the past fifty or sixty years they’ve been sold a bill of goods, an intolerant pseudo-religion that will not brook the accustomed traditional “his majesty’s loyal opposition.” Rather, it will only be overturned by pursuing the truth fearlessly and intelligently, and, yes, risking reputations and livelihoods, but doing so in the name of honesty and real liberty.

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Boyd Cathey
Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard Weaver Fellow, and an MA in intellectual history from the University of Virginia (as a Jefferson Fellow). He was assistant to conservative author and philosopher the late Russell Kirk. In more recent years he served as State Registrar of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. He has published in French, Spanish, and English, on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera. He is active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and various historical, archival, and genealogical organizations.
  • My son has as many black friends as white. All are welcome in my home (or not when they are being “boys” and making me crazy.) But there is a difference in the message I give my son every day and that his friends receive. I tell them, as a group, I expect them to be responsible, self accountable and reliant, make good decisions as they walk out the door. That if they do stupid stuff, well, they won’t like me so much, but I will be there for them. The football team coaches give them this message – be a better son, brother, leader, team mate – but they don’t get it as much from home. I ask. We talk. A lot of parents hold their kids responsible, but why aren’t all parents – white or black – teaching this to their children, in every home.

  • Lisette Muntslag

    My thoughts exactly….”There will be no improvement until this neo-Marxist template is overturned, and that will require writing and speaking some harsh realities, not just about race, but about our decaying cultural milieu.” I ran away from this socio-political dynamic wreaking havoc in the Netherlands only to have it slap me in the face again in the land of the free and home of the brave, sad but the cold and harsh reality!

  • Tricia Bernard

    I think this is a spiritual issue. I think we are being asked, as humans, or maybe tested (depending on your belief system), is a better word. And that basic question, despite any labels we put on ourselves of Christians, Catholics, etc, is ‘What do you stand for?.’

    I don’t think I’ve lived in a time in my years where it’s more necessary to know what you really, at the end of the day, stand for. What does your spiritual system, belief, religious affiliation, really ask of you?

    Do we stand for human life? To me, that is the question in a nutshell. Do we think, as a society, that we could do better to sustain the lives of all humans? Do we base the value of a life on it’s level of education and poverty? Or do we address the issues of education and poverty and do we fight poverty rather than fighting, and discrediting, even marginalizing, and ultimately judging, victomizing – the poor?

    From the responses and comments I’m seeing, I don’t think we are. I think we are not thinking in such a way as to sustain human life and addressing the issues of those people of race, economic stature, and education.

    I think we’re making up our minds based on a sad commentary of the issues that have plagued humankind for centuries. But, we will argue that; we will lay out tons of information to dissect the argument of a rightful or a wrongful death. We fight abortion, our labels insist that we do. But our deep-seeded prejudices can’t see through the fact that we are either Pro Life or we are not. There are no other versions; there are not ‘buts’ to the stance of Pro Life, however really inconvenient that may be.

    We should be fighting with the poor and oppressed, not against them. Now is the time, before what is happening now in one town becomes the norm in all towns, by examining ourselves. And that is to answer the one simple question of, what is it that we really stand for?

    If we can’t examine ourselves, if a prejudice of years and years makes that impossible – then while you’re calling out God’s or Jesus’ names today in church, ask yourself – What would Jesus do? What does the good book say?

  • Swo Ford

    Paradoxically, the gun-control fanatics’ ongoing war against our 2nd Amendment has lead to record firearms sales in these united states.