Friday, August 15, 2014

Oh No! Not Again!

I suspect that the private reaction to the Ferguson, Missouri, shooting among old white guys like me was: Oh, no, not again.

Because racist sexist homophobe guys like me just want this whole era of race politics to be over.  That's why we all voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

Then we learned that for Barack and the boys race politics is what it's all about.  They had no intention of moving on to a post-partisan, post-racial politics.

But still, it's discouraging: nearly 50 years after Watts, over 20 years after the Rodney King riots, here we are again with riots after a questionable arrest of a black man.

In retrospect it's not surprising, according to Megan McArdle.  Ferguson is a suburb of St. Louis that just flipped to majority black, and the city council and the police department are still white.

But now we learn that the dead 18-year-old might have been involved in a robbery immediately before his fatal encounter with the police.

Here was my takeaway from Ferguson: black folks booing Reverend Al Sharpton.

That's the thing about putting your faith in princes and politicians.  You find out eventually that it's like enlisting in the army.  First of all, you find out pretty quickly that you can't leave: desertion is what the army chiefs call it.  Then you realize that you are just cannon fodder.  The leaders aren't leading you to a promised land.  They are just using you in their cunning political power plays.  And when you are no longer useful, they will leave you by the side of the road.

That's why it's discouraging to me that blacks are still rioting, 50 years after Watts.  Back in 1992 Pat Buchanan coined the idea of "peasants with pitchforks" rebelling against the GOP establishment.  It's an apt notion because peasant uprisings never succeed.  Why?  Because the peasants are no match for the army.  And working-class or minority rioters are no match for the government and the middle class.

And that's the point.  The middle class doesn't riot.  Why not?  Because the middle class doesn't just sit there in a deteriorating situation, blaming the world for its problems, and finally exploding in rage.  Peasants do that, whether rural or urban.  But the middle class is different, because the middle class is composed of People of the Responsible Self.  The middle class believes that it is up to each individual to fix their problems, and waiting around for the government to fix things is likely to be a long wait.

And that's why I'm discouraged.  The riots in Ferguson, Missouri, tell us that African Americans still haven't climbed up into the middle class. And that's a crying shame.

On the other hand, they are starting to boo Barack and Al. That is what I call progress.

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