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Juan Williams’ Wide-Angled View of Ferguson, MO

Posted by Larry Doyle on August 20, 2014 9:21 AM |

I am compelled to digress today from our standard navigation of the economic landscape to touch upon the troubling situation playing out in Ferguson, MO.

I hope those who read this commentary and my blog would come away thinking the only side I come down upon in any situation is that of the truth. Over and above that pursuit, I hope people would also believe I have a real contempt for corruption and a real love for my fellow man.

The troubles in Ferguson are clearly very fluid and a cauldron for those who feel disenfranchised. Similarly, there are some folks who would use the loss of a young man’s life to further incite violence for violence sake.

Might America be able to use the unrest in Ferguson to have an intelligent conversation on the issues involved? I certainly hope so.

As much as many people might like to point at one reason or another as the sole or primary cause of the ongoing tragedy and trouble in Ferguson, I would hope that cooler and calmer heads can prevail and we can all take a much wider-angled view. What do I see as some of the issues that should be addressed?

Correlations between single parent families and a host of social ills; the all encompassing relations between races; correlation between education and employment opportunities; reasons why people have strong sense of disenfranchisement and animus toward local and federal government (could it be a sense that real corruption within our government is finally catching up with us? you think? I do!!); personal responsibilities.

This list is certainly not comprehensive but it is a start. Is our nation able to have the necessary honest conversation? If not now, when?

To that end, I applaud Juan Williams for doing just that in this morning’s Wall Street Journal. I have cut out his editorial entitled Ferguson and America’s Racial Fears to share with my own children and would encourage others to do the same. I welcome providing the link here and a few of  Williams’ words of wisdom:

Yes, the death of Michael Brown is a tragedy. Yes, the use of excessive and in this case lethal force by police must be fully investigated. And yes, the increased use of military equipment by local police forces is a frightening threat to American democracy and the constitutionally protected right to peaceful protest. Fear cannot justify police in tanks and carrying military weapons facing down people who want to protest the shooting of an unarmed man.

But please, let’s hit pause on the political spin and bitter exchange of racial fears. If we are to stop angry clashes between police and poor black men, it is time to admit that thuggish behavior creates legitimate fear in every community. Close to half of black men drop out of high school. High unemployment and high rates of out-of-wedlock birth leave too many of them without guidance. Given this reality, the violent behavior of young black men and the police response have become a window on racial fears.

The imbalance in economic and political power among racial groups as well as the long and difficult history of racism in the U.S. amplifies these fears on all sides. After Hurricane Katrina there was black fear that a conservative administration did not respond quickly because most of those in need were black. And white police responded by shutting off escape routes out of fear of black looters. History tells us it was government ineptitude, not racism, that led to the slow response, and the reports of looting were overblown by white paranoia. Despite today’s increased racial diversity, these racial fears persist across America.

I would suggest that all the protest groups in Ferguson stay on the case and peacefully demand justice. Then they should drive to big cities like Chicago and Baltimore. There they should hold protests against the forces feeding the racial fear of young black men among white people, black people and everyone else—the drug dealers, the gang bangers, the corrupt unions defending bad schools, and the musicians and actors who glorify criminal behavior among black men.

Far too many in our nation would like to point the finger at selected individuals or groups as the core of the problem.

When will America have an adult dialogue and dismiss the destructive political correctness that impedes the needed conversation so we can fully pursue and embrace the truth in all its colors and from all its corners?

Navigate accordingly.

Larry Doyle

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