Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.
Ferguson happens a few times every month. More often in the summer when tempers are hot and crowds of bored men and women fill the streets looking for something to do. Teenagers ransack stores. Small cities stretch their budgets in a bad economy to put as many cops as they can on the street.
And then somewhere between the open fire hydrants, the stores that do most of their business in EBT cards and lottery tickets, the check cashing places and furniture rental outlets, something happens.
And it happens a lot more often than you think.
A crowd gathers. Fists rise in the air. The police deploy. The EBT stores, check cashing places and furniture rental outlets roll down their shutters. A tense hour passes before the scene fades away leaving behind a crude graffiti scrawl of a wannabe gangsta and his favorite pit bull, a few faded color photos and some purple candles guttering in the night underneath his portrait.
Not the full scale rioting, looting and curfews. That’s the sort of thing that doesn’t happen on its own.
It has to be community organized into being.
Fergusons usually happen locally, but when it’s convenient then the looting and car stomping go national. The Trayvon Martin case happened in an election year. So did the Michael Brown case.
Maybe we can look forward to another Ferguson in 2016 and every two years after that.
There’s no need to belabor how Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson profit from the racism industry. Even the crowds booing them in Ferguson know that by now. Both men became irrelevant dinosaurs in 2008.
Obama’s election marginalized Jesse and Al. Jesse Jackson was shoved aside, muttering something about cutting off a part of Obama’s anatomy on FOX News. Sharpton became Obama’s messenger boy to the black community while scoring a teleprompter reading gig on a liberal cable news network.
Jackson and Sharpton were displaced and made irrelevant by Obama. Their old way of monetizing racism through protests and private organizations is as out of date as pay phones and cassette tapes.
Obama’s way of monetizing racism for fun and profit is infinitely more sophisticated. Where Sharpton and Jackson pretended to be community advocates collecting tribute from white politicians and companies in exchange for “controlling the anger” of the black community (a community that usually consisted of a few dozen outside thugs that they had imported), Obama plays both sides.
The old community agitators “negotiated” racial tensions with white liberals. The agitators and liberals profited while the working class populations of both races that they exploited lost out. Obama however negotiates these tensions on his own, playing both the agitator and the liberal at the same time.
The new community organizers work for the Justice Department. The agitators shouting through bullhorns are dinosaurs. The government now has a monopoly on racial agitation and racial violence. Obama can use the DOJ, its teams, its investigations and the media to turn the tension on or off.
Sharpton looks unimaginably crude compared to Holder. Wright sounds like a clown compared to Obama. Their empty posturing and hysterical displays of racism have been replaced by actual power. Obama can do what Sharpton and Wright couldn’t; he can merge political power and symbolic power, law and outrage, together into an arsenal of votes, violence and guilt.
Obama sends racial and post-racial signals. He flips from sounding like a JFK liberal envisioning the day when all American children can live together to a Chicago community organizer who uses justice to mean resentment. He tends to avoid explicitly racist rhetoric. Instead he empowers those who do. From Jeremiah Wright to Sharpton and Holder, he surrounds himself with race-baiters on the nastier edge of the spectrum. And while it’s easy to mistake them for the Ferguson looters, that would be a mistake.
Wright is a wealthy man from an upscale family. Holder’s father was a real estate broker. Sharpton’s father was a slumlord who drove a new Cadillac every year. Despite exploiting the resentment of poor blacks in places like Ferguson or Crown Heights, they don’t have much in common with them.
The same is true of Obama.
The race-baiters exist in a different world than the EBT stores, open fire hydrants and tense summer streets. They live in a world of limousines, private organizations and private jets.
And they use places like Ferguson to stay in power.
They don’t need to loot stores. They loot countries. They aren’t the defenders of the black community. They are its destroyers.
Black families have vanished. The kinds of jobs that the black residents of Ferguson might have once held also vanished. All that remains are the EBT stores, the open fire hydrants and the angry crowds.
The black community has been divided between a small elite that runs things, a shaky middle class clinging to government jobs and a vast army of the poor. Everyone who can leaves. Everyone who can’t pays taxes so that the police can buy bigger guns until the money runs out and they’re left with Detroit.
This is the Great Society that the Democratic Party has given us. The Hope and Change that Obama offered was for a privileged club of black limousine liberals. For everyone else there are government cell phones, government food, government housing and government community organizers who will tell them when they need to riot to protect all of these commodities from the government plantation.
Obama abandoned the black working class as much as he abandoned the white working class. He used their dreams and left behind broken communities sweating through the summer and waiting for the next explosion when another wannabe gangsta gets shot in another swing state.
And out of that rioting, the bosses he really represents, the billionaires with a big stake in everything from big banks to subsidized solar power, hope to retain their lucrative grip on the Senate.
The real issue isn’t the militarization of the police. It’s the militarization of racism. Violence doesn’t come from police officers decked out in military gear. It comes from the toxic mingling of entitlement, anger and hopelessness that is the hallmark of failed states and failed communities. The odor isn’t new.
The SWAT team emerged from race riots. The War on Drugs was actually declared by LBJ, not Nixon, and was a spinoff of the racial failures of the Great Society. Ferguson will come again. The riots, the tear gas and the clenched fists are a familiar script that will only stop when we start telling the truth about it.
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