My brief thoughts on Ferguson

  • When I first heard the ruling, a few hours after it had been announced, I checked the webpages of the international press. Only two outlets – Germany’s Der Spiegel and Al-Jazeera‘s Arabic language webpage (its English and Turkish language websites were different stories) – had front page headlines not highlighting the riots in the US. The Turkish and British media had the most extensive coverage of events when I checked them out (again, this was a couple of hours after the ruling was announced).
  • The United States has a racist past, and a racist present, that has yet to be fully addressed. Tocqueville saw this coming in 1825. Reparations for stolen labor is the only way I can see this issue being resolved. I don’t see anything that needs to be fixed about black culture. Black culture is an important component of the United States and its image abroad. Every kid in every Ghanaian village knows who 2Pac, Nas, and Jay-Z are, and as a result they implicitly respect the people of the United States. Every teenager in every Chinese city knows who 2Pac, Nas, and Jay-Z are, and as a result they implicitly respect the people of the United States.
  • Ending the War on Drugs will also go a long way to addressing the issue of state-sponsored oppression.
  • Affirmative Action is what you get when you try to address state-sponsored oppression through the legislative process rather than through the judicial process. Few, if any, blacks benefit from AA, and the few who do are highly educated and do not reflect the general population of blacks in the US.
  • Nationalizing policing duties, or giving Washington a more prominent role in policing matters, is a horrible idea that needs to die a thousand, painful deaths.
  • The people who loot and damage private property should be pursued and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
  • There are few things that make me smile more than seeing a police car burning. I hope the bill comes out of the pensions – themselves extracted from the taxpayer by public sector unions – of policemen, though I know this will not happen.
  • I have seen a lot of white, Asian, and Hispanic faces at the protests. There are some blacks who have made a living in academia and in the activist world by claiming that non-blacks are more racist than blacks (“micro-aggression”). I hope these protests will convince the neutral black observer that racism is a structural issue in this country, not a cultural one. I think, through my own anecdotal experience, that most blacks are both neutral and implicitly understand that this is a structural issue.
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7 thoughts on “My brief thoughts on Ferguson

  1. Charles Barkley (quote taken as I saw it from Nov. 17 issue of NR):

    “Unfortunately, as I tell my white friends, we as black people are never going to be successful, not because of you white people, but because of other black people. When you’re black, you have to deal with so much crap in your life from other black people. It’s a dirty dark secret….For some reason, we are brainwashed to think, if you’re not a thug or an idiot, you’re not black enough.”

    I have more to say, but my phone is being an ass.

    • Thanks Hank.

      As the homeless guy near my coffee shop always says: You can never go wrong by quoting Sir Charles himself.

      • Brandon, I meant to say more, but holidays and shopping and traveling and life got in the way. I didn’t want what Charles was saying (which was not even in response to Ferguson, by the way) to be taken as opposing your point about black culture.

        In short, I think you could apply what he said to any sort of generally oppressed or underprivileged racial or socio-economic group, whether it is inner city blacks, unemployed latinos, poor southern whites, or native tribes fettered to reservations. And that’s just to name a few in this country.

      • Hank,

        You sweet-smelling son of a bitch! The blog is lookin’ great, but we miss your trolling over here.

        Here is the thing about quoting celebrities: First, Sir Charles makes a point (that I’ll get to later) that is informed not by data but by anecdotal experience. Relying upon anecdotal experience to explain social phenomena is not in and of itself a bad thing, especially in an open society where every individual should (and often do) feel free to voice his or her opinion on any matter they please, and at any time they please through any venue they wish.

        In fact, these anecdotes are what makes a society like ours so vibrant (I hate to brag like this but – like the true whore that I am – I’ve been around). Imagine if nobody contributed their half-baked thoughts on some cultural or political phenomenon!

        In authoritarian states people can still voice their opinions, but not in the same way that Westerners like Sir Charles can. They have to take to social media (the best example I can think of is China’s “netizens” phenomenon).

        Woah, I’m getting way off topic. So Sir Charles is relying on anecdotal evidence, but his experience growing up in the South is very different from an average black person’s experience growing up in the South. Sir Charles was marked as a potential basketball superstar as a teenager. He was 6’4″ when he graduated from high school. You don’t think that high profile had something to do with his opinion of growing up in black neighborhoods? You don’t think Sir Charles took a little extra flack?

        This I like:

        I think you could apply what he said to any sort of generally oppressed or underprivileged racial or socio-economic group, whether it is inner city blacks, unemployed latinos, poor southern whites, or native tribes fettered to reservations. And that’s just to name a few in this country.

        Kudos, first, to your internationalist ethos, and to your bluntly-stated recognition of oppression, but “underprivileged”? I don’t buy it. I have never been comfortable with this term. It is too vague, and I suspect you think the same thing. Why patronize me, Hank? You had me way back at ‘hello’.

        Oppression, too, carries with it some awkward baggage that needs to be sorted and repackaged. Natives and blacks are oppressed, but I don’t think you could make the same claim for poor whites (of any ethnic or religious background; see Bean for more classification schemes) and immigrants (again, of any ethnic or religious background; see Delacroix for more immigrants and oppression).

        With all of this out of the way, I don’t see how you could apply Sir Charles’ musings to the situation of blacks today. It’s true that American blacks kill each other a lot (but not that much; see Caplan), but it does not follow that there is a general attitude of self-loathing in minority communities. Does this rambling make sense?

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