Race-baiting: From the Slime to the Ridiculous

The blowback from two recent grand jury decisions exonerating white police officers in separate cases wherein their use of force resulted in the deaths of black individuals has taken on a decidedly surreal tone. While to an extent we have grown to expect provocateurs like Rev. Al Sharpton and his ilk squeezing as much face time out of anything even remotely controversial in vein of race, the willingness of uninvolved (and often wholly uninformed) Americans in jumping on the bandwagon in this dark travesty is discouraging, to say the least.

Some have engaged in asinine, shallow displays of solidarity, such as the hands-up gesture on the part of five players on the St. Louis Rams football team, Singer Garth Brooks canceling a Thanksgiving appearance on NBC’s “Tonight Show” and Columbia Law School allowing students to postpone final exams due to “trauma” attendant to the grand jury decisions. Now, we also have the burgeoning “I can’t breathe” campaign, memorializing Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold by a New York City Police officer.

While some may argue that these gestures were harmless, they are indicative of a complete lack of critical analysis. Like the Ferguson rioters themselves, most of these people came to their erroneous conclusions despite the clear-cut nature of the Wilson-Brown case.

Some reactions were less harmless. Last Wednesday, student protesters at East High School in Denver, Colorado – ostensibly demonstrating in solidarity with the Ferguson crowd – actually cheered as a police officer on a bicycle was hit by a car and dragged underneath the vehicle.

As I’ve been saying for many weeks, agitators, operators, and politicos have been setting the stage for this tragic comedy since August. Activists and community organizers so vigorously advanced the idea that Michael Brown had been murdered by Darren Wilson that they have been able to parlay the incident – and subsequently the Eric Garner case – into a nationwide call to action against America’s institutionally racist police. Their rhetoric has been deliberately inflammatory, whether on the part of Brown’s stepfather, Louis Head, who admonished Ferguson rioters to “Burn this bi–h down,” or Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who said prior to the Ferguson grand jury announcement that if the demands of protesters for the indictment of Darren Wilson were not met, “we’ll tear this g–dd–n country up!”

We cannot discount the influence of the press in this matter, however. They have not only been instrumental in shaping the flawed worldview of so many Americans, but were instrumental in validating the sentiments of those who wished to make the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner into hate crimes.

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