Monday, August 18, 2014

Michael Brown and Ferguson in Historical Context: No One Does It Better. White People are America's Foremost Experts on Rioting

Events continue to develop in Ferguson, Missouri. In the aftermath of Sunday night's civil disturbances, the Missouri's Governor has deployed the national guard to supplement the local police department. The autopsy results on Michael Brown's body indicate he was shot several times in the face, arm, and torso. The evidence from the autopsy is consistent with the witnesses who say that Michael Brown was surrendering and the killer cop Darren Wilson shot him multiple times. 

President Barack Obama delivered a careful and empty statement on the events in Ferguson, Missouri where he played Scold-in-Chief for Black America while also trying to condemn police violence in his role as Chief Law Enforcement Officer for the United States. Eric Holder--Obama's conscience and mouth piece on matters of the color line--is going to Ferguson to monitor the federal investigation into the murder of Michael Brown.

Ferguson is now a theater for race and politics. It features many actors.

Historians, sociologist, political scientists, and other experts who could put these events within a broader context have not been featured by the mainstream media. For example, I have yet to hear someone talk about the Kerner Commission Report on national TV or radio. Alas, for the corporate news media the money is in the sizzle and not the steak. Consequently, substantive answers to questions about the horrible events in Ferguson are less compelling than is a narrative that the events in Ferguson are a surprise, mysterious, or complicated.

To point.

The Right-wing propaganda machine has offered up a woman by the name of "Josie" who has crawled out the bowels of the White Right's propaganda sewer to now be interviewed by CNN about "what really happened" when Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown. 

Josie is a Darren Wilson's low rent version of "Deep Throat".

She offers a version of events in which Michael Brown is a negro cocaine fiend, rampaging and "bum-rushing" Darren Wilson. "Josie" must have taken lessons in Negro dialect from the same school that coached George Zimmerman's father and teaches white women how to best tell the news media and police that a nebulous black man kidnapped their kids. I am surprised that Josie did not say that Michael Brown called Darren Wilson a "honky".

Josie's role in the Ferguson debacle is important: will a semi-random, anonymous white woman who is trotted out by the Right-wing hate media and calls into CNN be given the same level of credibility as three independent black witnesses, whose accounts are more of less the same, as to the truth of what transpired when Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown? 

Moreover, Josie's story is pure bovine scatology as exposed by its lie that Wilson was responding to the report of a theft that was never called in to the police.

If Pew's new survey on the divergence in racial attitudes between white and black Americans regarding the murder of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson is any indication, the white racial frame will elevate a phantom white woman whose hearsay mirrors what they would like to believe about white victimhood in the face of black "histrionics" about racism to the level of empirical truth. 

We must not forget how on a foundational level, racism is fundamentally about resources and power. 

The institutional white supremacist American social order that killed Michael Brown also works through emotion and psychology. 

The instinctive defense of white on black police violence is an act of transference and idealization. As I wrote here, white society views black life as less than--it is somehow predatory and dangerous.

Some white folks wish that they were the cops beating and killing black and brown people; the vast majority of other white folks are glad that the police are there, even if they are overzealous on occasion, because the the latter are protecting "good people" like "us" from "bad people" like "them". 

Winston Churchill famously said that "We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us." As an arm of the racial state, police fulfill that role for White America.

"Rioting" is the meta narrative and assumption tying together how the news media frames the events in Ferguson, Missouri. This language and its underlying assumptions are very important because they 1) depict the anger and rage at the murder of Michael Brown by the police as somehow unreasonable, irrational, and uncontrolled and 2) is part of a long tradition where Whiteness and White Supremacy, as America's historically dominant political ideologies, re-imagine violence and disruptive social behavior as something inseparable from blackness and the black community. 

The white racial frame rewrites American history by ignoring how the language of "riots" and "rioting" has historically been used to describe white on black racial pogroms, lynchings, and a centuries-long campaign of ethnic cleansing. It was only in the aftermath of the 1960s and its urban rebellions that the word "riot" came to be synonymous with black people.

No group of people riot like white Americans. White Americans are geniuses and experts in the art. 

There are no black on white versions of the Great Chicago race riot, East St. Louis, Tulsa, Washington D.C., Rosewood, and the many hundreds if not thousands of black towns and communities that were destroyed by rampaging white mobs. 

The civil disturbances in Ferguson, Missouri are not a "race riot". However, the subtext and framing of those events by the American news media and the white American collective consciousness is located within a visual lexicon and its associated history of images, associations, and cultural narratives about black violence and criminality. 

White America makes sense of the events in Ferguson, Missouri and the killing of Michael Brown relative to a cognitive schema that is heavily influenced by prejudice, racism, and old fashioned bigotry towards black people. Those biases have to be overcome in order for White America to fully understand how Ferguson's black community is acting in a very restrained, rational, and righteous way. 

There are a good number of white folks who are on the right side of history in regards to these matters.

Unfortunately, too many others would rather accept the default assumption that black people are criminals, ergo Michael Brown must have done something wrong to "provoke" a white cop into killing him execution-style in broad daylight. White privilege is moral rot: it corrupts the souls of those who are invested in it by making clear matters of right and wrong into something flexible and malleable.

One of those white lies is that violence and "rioting" are acts committed by "urban blacks". To inform white folks that their people are America's greatest experts in domestic mass violence is an impolitic truth that would shatter the lie of Whiteness as an identity which is benign and innocent. 

Few people are willing to speak that uncomfortable in the mainstream media, our classrooms, or in other spaces where teaching and political socialization take place. The consequences are too great.


Myshkin the Idiot said...

Damn dude, that's exactly what I was thinking about Darren Wilson's friend. She has more credibility than Mike Brown's friend.

There is also the "smoking gun" audio of a witness basically saying he *thinks* he saw Brown turn and run back at the cop. I briefly argued with someone about it who was convinced Brown had a death wish. Of course this one witness testimony is also "more credible" than the other witnesses.

Apparently Mike Brown, after assaulting the officer and being shot at and missed from close range, ran away from the officer while the officer continues to shoot, then turns at 20 feet away LOWERS HIS HEAD and charges back at the officer while being shot at. Of course, you would only believe this if you believe he was jacked up on some super human potion by which he thought he was invincible. But he was 300 pounds, so he had to be killed for the safety of...

This shit is disgusting.
Ferguson PD is disgusting.
Ferguson PD is begging for civil disorder so they can justify their extreme use of force.

Thanks for the comparison to white riots. Especially in history. You know during the American Revolution there were a ton of riots. The revolutionary generation used that populist anger to garner support for a rebellion. The revolutionary elites didn't like destruction of property and attacks on British officials by citizens, so they utilized the fervor as best they could. Of course now with our historical amnesia, no one remembers this and if they do it was because the British were oppressive.

I still keep seeing operations against ISIS being discussed one after the other with what's happening in Ferguson. I guess they're trying to show us what happens when you become a pronounced enemy of the state. I'm surprised the word "terror" hasn't been tied to the protesters in Ferguson.

grumpyrumblings said...

Shame on CNN.

joe manning said...

The current outpouring of the new Civil Rights Movement exposes the big picture of officialdom's coercive maintenance of class divisions and the function of the sacrificial caste in that equation. Despite the media's heavily edited, choreographed, and biased clips and the police's baiting of the crowd replete with agent provocateurs, public sentiment is clearly on the side of the protestors. Only the sadistic white right gets a vicarious kick out of public exhibitions of police brutality. The majority is outraged and demanding justice.

chauncey devega said...

The Right-wing propaganda machine is working hard to protect their hero killer cop. Now, they are saying his orbital bone was broken. So what? Maybe the gun caught him in the face while shooting, maybe Michael Brown hit him? either way that does not justify executing someone who was running way and had surrendered.

The new lie is that Michael the wild cocaine weed fiend was running at the cop like Superman. These people are delusional.

chauncey devega said...

Josie Deepthroat is on the cover of CNN. Sick stuff. This false equivalency and lying b.s. given credibility.

KissedByTheSun said...

Sometimes I want to give up. I'm not going to lie. Sometimes I feel as a man being robbed at gun point. Like no matter how eloquent I can wax about how wrong my assailant is, and how unjustified his actions are, I'm still getting robbed. Our ancestors fought these evils valiantly in the past. But, the foe presented himself as such, as a foe, as overtly enemies of our ancestors best interest. However, these days I feel like white supremacist America is like Stinkmeanor from Boondocks. Not only are they blind but they aggressively pursue they're own course no matter who gets hurt in their wake. How do you present reality to someone who not only will not see it but cannot see it even if they wanted to? How do you defend yourself against someone who plays the victim when you hit back because "who gets in a fight with a blind man"? Like I said sometimes I want to give up. Sometimes...

Wild Cat said...

It's not just the right-wing. Everything is corrupted. My dog, just check out the comments in the NYT and the rest of the 'liberal' media. I trust what I see from "Democracy Now," but I wish they'd manage to get someone to Occupied Ferguson (all their reporters are currently in the Middle East, I imagine). The right-wing fiends that are throwing gasoline on the fire are going to receive a nice paycheck this week on the networks' various Pravda-esque Sunday shows.

MSNBC and the New Yorker have some integrity to show for themselves, but they're still Democratic party operatives who seem to be quite happy with the astounding silence of Democratic Party "leaders."

Sandy Young (Corkingiron) said...

The irony is that she is citing, almost verbatim, a FB page purported to be Darren Wilson's - but a major media outlet has already announced that the page is a fake.
Which media outlet, you ask?


Lkeke said...

I'll wager that all these witnesses to Officer Wilson's side of the story are either people that were paid or coerced to do so and also has the convenient effect of corrupting any jury, if it's ever convened.

The local PD put those lies out there knowing that the willfull ignoramuses they'd be drawing for any jury would have been well exposed to all this false information.

It's awfully convenient that they found so many witnesses after they've ad more than enough time to plant the seeds of victim blaming. Witnesses that are repeating word for word a report on the incident that Officer Wilson has had plenty of time to craft.

chauncey devega said...

I wonder what they are covering up in the Ferguson PD? All these resources and trouble for one person? Something stinks to high heaven here, really bad stuff has been going on.

skilletblonde said...

As soon as CNN began to cover the tragedy, I thought here comes the fix for the police. I felt the same way about Lisa Bloom's appearance on MSNBC. As I posted here on another thread, I was also concerned that the family decided to go with Michael Baden. Baden is a regular on Fox's Redeye. He's more of a celebrity than scientist, if you ask me, His firing as New York's Chief Medical Examiner in 1979, should have been investigated. Nevertheless, In the end, the corporate media , and those that they hire for the punditry class will create the narrative that will support the police. That's because the media is a function of the police state.

skilletblonde said...

Of course Chauncey is right as usual. Since the 1960's willful amnesia, overt racism, and the imagery of television, has made rioting a creation of African Americans. Not only that, any rally, gathering, event or protest of African Americans are always reported as infiltrated by criminals. You can see this in the old interviews of Martin Luther King on "Meet The Press". The accusations were then, as they are today. King was bombarded with allegations of looming violence. King accused them of instigating violence, which is exactly what they were doing. Of course those who were bombing churches, lynching, brutalizing, and violating every aspect of civil rights, received no such interrogation.

Furthermore, it is not merely our right to protest that is criminalized, it's also our living spaces. Black neighborhoods are designated as "bad" simply because black people live in them. Our neighborhoods are sequestered and scandalized as gang and drug infested. Yet, in Ohio where I live, there are Klan members, white supremacist groups, anti-government militias, meth infested towns. However, you will never hear these white spaces described as gang and drug infested or possessing a criminal element.

African Americans are also put in the position of having to apologize because we are not perfect. That is, not perfect in the eyes of whites. As I watched MSNBC last night and today, each African American have to explain why some African Americans were acting out during the protest. After all, if a few react violently, then we all must be condemned. In a nutshell, that's the way we are viewed in America. However, if one is white, you may RIOT VIOLENTLY for important causes LIKE THESE:

Justifiable Riots:

Coach Joe Paterno's firing because he shield pedophile Jerry Sandusky:

The University of Kentucky 2012 basketball tournament win:

Michigan State's win over Ohio State:

chauncey devega said...

Don't give up. Stay strong. Be good to yourself.

OldPolarBear said...

CNN seems to me almost worse than Fox. Everybody but the most thoroughly brainwashed knows that Fox is a sick joke of a news station, but CNN maintains this image of respectability while they are really just a propaganda arm of the oligarchy.

Courtney H. said...

Here is an article that points out the double standards that you are talking about here:

Wild Cat said...

Was Baden the person who covered up the Michael Stewart murder by the police under the racist Koch Administration?

Wild Cat said...

Thanks. It shows nothing is new under the sun and the North is rarely better than the South on these issues.

Lewis MacKenzie said...

Thank you for writing this lucid and deeply enlightening blog. I read a lot of the stuff you wrote about Elliott Rodgers and thought it was excellent, and this had been my go-to source on matters of racial politics ever since.

I read somewhere that the cops policing the situation in Ferguson are among those who have received training from the Israeli Occupation Forces in Palestine. Judging by their attitude and tactics, this sounds very plausible. I think it speaks volumes about the US police force that its officers are being shipped to an apartheid state that explicitly practises a form of ethnic supremacism, to receive training in how to subjugate and control an "enemy" population in an occupied foreign territory.

Courtney H. said...

Here is an interesting article: