Tag Archives: racism in america

How the Great Society surely killed Michael Brown

The police had shot and killed a black man again but, this time, the neighborhood wasn’t taking it. They’d long ago gotten fed up with a white police department that treated them like second-class citizens – pulling them over, harassing them and arresting them much more quickly than they did whites. Now a policeman had pulled aside a young man on a Saturday afternoon and then ended his life. The cop had gunned down an unarmed teenager in the middle of the street, as if the kid were public enemy number one. Shot him six times for the crime of jaywalking.

Every night now Ferguson, Missouri, explodes in protests, mayhem and looting. No one pretends to be surprised by the violence because they’ve seen it before; they’re only surprised to see it now, in 2014. Accordingly there have been hours and hours of national news coverage and solemn TV punditry, and an endless number of op/eds and blog posts arguing how and why this is happening in what many hoped was a post-racial America.

Tragic as this is, though, we can all be thankful for one thing. Conservatives have figured out what went wrong.

Okay, it’s a media circus but an eighteen-year old kid died here, even if he was a bit of stoned thug who liked to beat up clerks in convenience stores just to make off with a box of cigars. He didn’t deserve to die.

Of course, Michael Brown was just another street thug, but Roger Simon doesn’t believe he deserved to die. It’s a start.

Everyone knows we’ve seen it before and everyone knows we’ll see it again. In fact, many parties don’t want it to go away. The beat must go on. It has to go on or their very personalities will disintegrate. And I will tell you why — what caused it.

Give him credit for admitting that America has tolerated the deaths of young black men for too long. It’s being tolerated even today. Unfortunately, Roger’s advice will have little to do with that. He’s not interested in answering the central question arising from Brown’s death: How could it have happened? He won’t address the secondary question either, which follows the first: What’s wrong with the Ferguson police department?

Roger’s concerns are more traditional. He’d like to take on the issue that people like him have been obsessed with since slaves first arrived here in the 1600s. To wit: What’s wrong with black people? Over the centuries conservatives have always had a theory to explain that mystery. Here is today’s theory, courtesy Roger:

The Great Society. There, I’ve said it.


Ferguson is the Great Society writ large because the Great Society convinced, and then reassured, black people that they were victims, taught them that being a victim and playing a victim was the way to go always and forever…

You thought this Ferguson controversy was about police casually killing an unarmed teenager. Roger knows better. This is really about how BLACK PEOPLE ALWAYS END UP LOOTING IN THE STREETS. Hot tip: the second thing is wrong.

And then it repeated the point ad infinitum from its debut in 1964 until now — a conveniently easy to compute fifty years — as it all became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For decades the government worked to pull Americans (of all colors) out of poverty but that massive wide-ranging effort ended – just now, incidentally, a week ago Saturday night – as predictably as ever, in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Some cop shot a teenager and black people started yelling like they were victims. If it weren’t so pathetic it would be annoying.

Those misbegotten kids running around Ferguson high on reefer and wasting their lives screaming at cops are the product of all this. Stop it already.

Enough with the whining. And look how these Ferguson kids waste their lives. Running around town, getting high on drugs, yelling at cops and being completely…misbegotten. Don’t pretend they weren’t going to get shot, at some point. Don’t tell Roger that “the product of all this” is anything but deadly denial. And when some three year-old catches a bullet I’m sure we’ll hear from him how ‘misbegotten’ city toddlers have become.

How is it we can no longer agree that the death of Brown is the real problem? We can’t go on without the tragedy being addressed. But half of us, like Roger, want to pretend that when a violent act is followed by a violent argument somehow the act no longer matters. They seem to be saying that if Ferguson could only behave itself then the town might have a point. But how many Michael Browns have been killed without sparking even the slightest controversy?


Obama’s State of the Union worthy of a Roman Senator

He’s certainly a master at getting the tone of an anticipated speech just right. He proved that for the first time, for me, with the ‘Jeremiah Wright / Racism in America‘ speech where he effectively re-established his command of the campaign and the tangent issues.

He did it again tonight. He made it clear that America was angry with him, and he accepted that fact, and then he made it clear that both heaugustus obama and America were merely doing their jobs.

He said this year was the one to focus on jobs and to attack deficits, both of which everyone wanted to hear. He did not back down on healthcare reform, which he badly needed to make clear. He made a case for that being critically necessary whether politicians now have the courage to finish off the package or not. And reform’s the best way to address deficits, and he’s right.

It was very well done. I think he’s again seized the narrative, but that will only last for a couple of weeks.

I got a real sinking sense tonight of Obama’s being wholly but an American patrician. Intellectual and philosophical, he’s remarkably capable of measuring the buffeting political choruses with great accuracy and then invoking a call for a comprehensive plebeian answer grounded in sensible activism and incisive real-world experience. Really amazing, honestly.

Really empty, too. The one endeavor in his entire political life where that call showed up in reality and flesh is healthcare reform. All he’s done tonight is say that he’s still behind it. If he were really serious about it, he’d have been doing the dirty work of nastily twisting House Democrats’ arms this week. Instead, he’s spent all of his time thinking and pondering and balancing and crafting a terrific-sounding speech. Quite the Roman Senator.

He’s spent all his life parsing these issues. But he hasn’t figured out how to move people to do his considerably sensible will, other than to mull and draft another inspiring speech. Do you think that if the mob continue to ignore him, which they’ll surely do, he’ll just throw up his arms in exasperation? I do.