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Is the Ferguson Nightmare Just Beginning?


Could it be that our long national nightmare is just beginning?

Could it be that after decade upon decade of refusing to address the cost of racism in America, the bill has finally come due?

The protests in Ferguson, Missouri, the arrests, the shootings, the armored vehicles, the police in full battle regalia indiscriminately training military-style rifles on unarmed citizens, the clouds of tear gas, the Molotov cocktails, the social media "reporting" of both hard truth and dangerous rumor as if there were no distinction between the two — could it be that this is our new normal?

Ferguson has become America's nightly reality show. During the day, we get talking heads, and during the night, we get clouds of tear gas.

It is often difficult to tell which is denser.

The truth should not be hidden. The truth should be revealed. But truth is often hard to come by as the battle is still unfolding.

Instead, the fog of war has come home to America.

Some people who had never seen a real tank decided that tanks were being deployed by police in Ferguson. They have not been, even though our attorney general was among the confused. "Tell them to remove the damn tanks," Eric Holder told his deputies on Thursday. He meant armored vehicles. Tanks have treads, which tend to tear up asphalt roads. Tanks also tend to be very large, very noisy and much more ferocious-looking than armored vehicles.

If tanks ever come to Ferguson, we truly will be at war with our own people.

President Barack Obama has offered little help thus far. Ferguson is a racial dispute, and the president would rather talk about Iraq or just about anything other than race.

He appeared in the White House briefing room Monday without a necktie to signal he technically was still on vacation.

"Let's seek to heal rather than to wound each other," he said. "That's how we're going to move forward together."

The words seem to have been assembled by committee. They did not seem to have originated in the president's heart or soul.

"I've got to make sure that I don't look like I'm putting my thumb on the scales one way or the other," the president reminded us.

Actually, I wouldn't mind if he jumped on the scale with both feet, as long as he came down on the side of justice.

"We've got to make sure that we are able to distinguish between peaceful protesters who may have some legitimate grievances ... and those who are using this tragic death as an excuse to engage in criminal behavior," the president said.

Yeah, fine.

But tell us how we are going to do that before you go back to Martha's Vineyard, Mr. President.

Obama's entire statement, which included more on Iraq than it did on Ferguson, and the few questions that followed consumed exactly 27 minutes of his time Monday afternoon.

That evening, he spent five hours at dinner at the home of White House chef Sam Kass, who is also the president's frequent golfing partner.

The president needs time to relax. I don't begrudge him this. But so do the people of Ferguson. And they haven't gotten much "down time" lately.

True, perspective is called for.

Since the tragic killing of Michael Brown, there have been (as I write this) no additional fatal shootings and only a few dozen arrests. For all the police hardware and "asymmetric" response, for all the anger of some in the crowds, the violence on both sides has been light.

In 1992, the Los Angeles riots that resulted from the beating of Rodney King left 53 dead, more than 2,000 injured and $1 billion in property damage. Not only did the National Guard have to be called out but also the 7th Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Division were there.

Nothing like that is happening in Ferguson. Let us count our blessings. And hope they continue.

But what will be the lasting result?

Last year, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin, it looked like a good time for Americans to start a genuine dialogue on race.

But President Obama wanted no part of it.

"You know, there has been talk about should we convene a conversation on race," Obama said. "I haven't seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations."

As David Maraniss, whose biography of Obama was published in 2012, wrote, "once Obama reached the White House, it appeared that his intense interest in the subject (of race) diminished. He would be judged by the content of his presidency, not the color of his skin. Race seemingly became unimportant, if not irrelevant, to the first black president of the United States."

Obama is ready to go back to Martha's Vineyard.

Ferguson? Well, Holder is heading there, and maybe he will find a way for all concerned "to heal rather than to wound each other."

Obama? Well, in a few weeks, he is supposed to go to Estonia and then Wales.

Racial unrest in America? Maybe if we refuse to talk about it, we will get lucky and it will all go away. Nightmares sometimes do.

But I wouldn't count on it.

Roger Simon is Politico's chief political columnist. His new e-book, "Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America," can be found on, and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at



9 Comments | Post Comment
Who is not talking about race. The left talks about race constantly. What is that the left loves to call the right? Oh, yes, racist. It appears every day on national news, cable news, newspapers, you name it.

In the past five years 94 blacks have been killed by white police. In the past 5 years 44,000 blacks have been killed by blacks. Wanna talk about that? I thought not.

Don't tell me to talk about race because I won't get a chance to talk. Besides, the left has a new enemy, the Jews. Racist, Zionist, arpatheidic Jews. All three of those terms have been used by voices from the left in describing Jews.

The left has taken to wearing masks. Ask yourself if this is a good thing.

Will we have an honest discussion about race in the 21st century? I wouldn't count on it.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Tom
Tue Aug 19, 2014 12:22 PM
Author say "The president needs time to relax. I don't begrudge him this. But so do the people of Ferguson. And they haven't gotten much "down time" lately."

Or maybe they've had too many years of "down time" and are saying no more.

And now come response to blovated Tom and his incomplete stats.
Tom's perspective, though myopic and misguided, remains pervasive and embedded in the broader social consciousness. This red-herring approach is not new, but in the face of Mike Brown's death -- for which there remains no arrest, no charges and no arraignment -- these obstructive tactics require an equal and opposite response.

What Tom failed to mention is the exacting truth that white Americans are just as likely to be killed by other whites. According to Justice Department statistics (pdf), 84 percent of white people killed every year are killed by other whites.

In fact, all races share similar ratios. Yet there's no outrage or racialized debate about "white on white" violence. Instead, the myth and associated fear of "black on black" crime is sold as a legitimate, mainstream descriptive and becomes American status quo.

The truth? As the largest racial group, whites commit the majority of crimes in America. In particular, whites are responsible for the vast majority of violent crimes. With respect to aggravated assault, whites led blacks 2-1 in arrests; in forcible-rape cases, whites led all racial and ethnic groups by more than 2-1. And in larceny theft, whites led blacks, again, more than 2-1.

Given this mathematical truth, would anyone encourage African Americans to begin shooting suspicious white males in their neighborhoods for fear that they'll be raped, assaulted or murdered? Perhaps Tom should answer that question. If African Americans were to act as irrationally as White police, would any rationale suffice to avoid arrest?

And why is no consideration given to the fact that Mike Brown, and millions of black boys and girls like him, harbor a reasonably founded fear of whites but are hardly ever provided the deference and dignity that victimhood affords?

The term "black on black" crime is a destructive, racialized colloquialism that perpetuates an idea that blacks are somehow more prone to violence. This is untrue and fully verifiable by FBI, DOJ and census (pdf) data. Yet the fallacy is so fixed that even African Americans have come to believe it.

In Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, she explains that the term was coined in the 1980s as American cities underwent transformation as a result of riots, white flight and the onslaught of the drug trade. David Wilson, a professor at the University of Illinois, documents the phenomena in Inventing Black-on-Black Violence. Wilson says that instead of attributing increased crime activity to poverty, inequality and disenfranchisement, the media chose to blame "a supposedly defective, aberrant black culture."

In a 2010 piece published by The Root, "The Myth of Black-on-Black Violence," Natalie Hopkinson opines that journalists should follow the direction of the United Kingdom, where the Guardian newspaper banned the use of the phrase. A Guardian stylebook asked authors to ''imagine the police saying they were investigating an incident of white-on-white violence ... " Hopkinson concludes, "The term 'black-on-black violence' is a slander against the majority of law-abiding black Americans, rich and poor, who get painted by this broad and crude brush."

Mike Martin's tragic death and the many like it reveals the worst ills at play within America's criminal-justice system. Not only was he murdered in large part because of dangerous, persistent stereotypes, but the failure of police to judiciously respond to the crime underscores the inequities that characterize institutionalized racism.

Those who respond to the tragedy by retreating to narratives of black-on-black crime seek to promote it as a defense against an innocent child's violent homicide. This reveals how entrenched the lies have become and how eager too many people are to absolve both law enforcement guilt and their own tacit consent.

African-American media and policymakers have been equally complicit in promoting a "black-on-black crime" anecdote, thinking that it could help address some of the community's problems; but what it has actually done is provide support for racial profiling and promote the disproportionate policing of black criminality as "legitimate" and "acceptable." This over-policing has led to disproportionately higher rates of arrests in black communities, reinforcing the idea that blacks commit more crimes.

If we were to talk about "white-on-white crime," then at least we'd be addressing issues like gun violence in a racially neutral way. That doesn't happen because too many Americans remain convinced that black or brown people are the problem. Respected journalists like George Will further perpetuate lies as fact when they make blanket statements that support an ill-conceived narrative.

It seems that the media in general and white American society in particular prefer to focus on crime perpetrated by African Americans because it serves as a way to absolve them from the violence, prejudice and institutionalized discrimination engendered for generations against blacks. It offers a buffer against responsibility, a way to shift blame and deflect cause and effect. But the truth, and numbers, tell a different story.

The myth of black-on-black violence has become a stain on the sociopolitical consciousness and indelibly imbues mindsets as well as public policy. At the heart of an increasingly violent society is not a subculture among blacks but the violence and criminality of many Americans, and whites in particular. No one seems to speak about this. Why? Because the snake oil was duly purchased and consumed. It is time for race-based pseudo-facts to be challenged and dismantled.

Comment: #2
Posted by: steveM
Tue Aug 19, 2014 1:58 PM
Tom say: Wanna talk about that? I thought not.

Once again Tom. You thought wrong.

Comment: #3
Posted by: steveM
Tue Aug 19, 2014 2:04 PM
"The myth of black-on-black violence..." Year to date black on black murders in Chicago :227. Quite a myth, you don't want to talk about it because... I'm a racist.

"This over-policing has led to disproportionately higher rates of arrests in black communities,..." Yeah, in Detroit they claim under policing is the problem. Recognize a stupid argument when offered.

"Those who respond to the tragedy by retreating to narratives of black-on-black crime seek to promote it as a defense against an innocent child's violent homicide." Have you read ANYTHING about this event? 6 foot 4, 290 pounds, strong armed a store owner for Swisher Sweets to make blunts with, may have attacked the policeman in question, was not shot in the back at all. You call him an innocent child to blur facts and de facto call me a racist.
Neither you, nor I, nor anyone knows what happened, but don't obscure facts along your racist calling route.

"The term "black on black" crime is a destructive, racialized colloquialism..." used by racist whites, no doubt.

Why should I take the word of a bogus poster who has referred to jews as "evil" and "the devil"? Hating jews has somehow purified you of all other prejudices? Talk about your hate, Stevie. How you hate Jews, hate America, hate whites, hate everybody. Talk about your compatriots chopping off heads and hoping America burns so you can establish your caliphate. Oh, you will be a big man when that day comes. They won't murder you like they do everyone else. They are too civilized to chop your head off.

Your hate and bias are on prominent display in your words. Why would anyone give a scratch for your demi-intellectual patter? Are you now including whites in your pantheon of "evil" and "the devil"? Go ahead, hate me like you hate the jews. It's your strong suit.

Hater Stevie.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Tom
Wed Aug 20, 2014 6:07 AM
Tom's sad plight is having to refute facts and he fails miserably blinded by his own unreasonable, unrecognizable, inadmissable hatred which nullifies his ability to be objective. If he didn't see it or think it or say it, it didn't happen. Unable to refute reasonable factual arguments, Tom like so many of his type, ignorant, uninformed, and blinded by deep ingrained biases strike out and accuse others of his own shortcomings. Tom, like others such as he, are more full of s^hit than an outdoor portapotty at a Republican convention.
Comment: #5
Posted by: steveM
Wed Aug 20, 2014 6:31 AM
Stevie, are you denying that you called Jews vile, the devil, evil? Shall I pull up the post?

Deny you said it.

If you can't we know who the real hater is; you.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Tom
Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:19 AM
Maybe Tom used to people telling him what to do? Have to ask permission before doing what he choose? Maybe feel that take responsibility off him and he not responsible for own actions? Grow a pair Tom. Take responsibility for whatever you choose to do. Is always your choice. Converse w/Tom is like converse w/spoiled little child.
Comment: #7
Posted by: steveM
Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:35 AM
So you admit you posted that jews are vile, the devil, evil.

Converse with Stevie silly. He a hater all time. Think Jew vile, evil, the devil. He blame others for own problems.
Deny his own words, not a man.

Comment: #8
Posted by: Tom
Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:15 AM
Tom as I said conversing w/you is like conversing w/spoiled child and with each of your comments is even more obvious. Was my initial mistake for think I conversing with adult. As I read your last comment is more than obvious just how pathetically immature you are.
Comment: #9
Posted by: steveM
Sat Aug 23, 2014 4:45 AM
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