How the Media and Obama Made Ferguson Even Worse
Three shots rang out early Thursday in Ferguson, Missouri, that severely wounded two police officers. Our thoughts and prayers are with these brave officers who, like thousands of their brethren across the United States, form a thin blue line that protects citizens in communities large and small regardless of their wealth, skin color, or religious beliefs.
Yet, something perverse has permeated our culture in America today, a culture where taking personal responsibility for one’s actions has been replaced by a grievance industry that promotes white privilege as the root cause for all that ails them. Sadly, America’s first African-American President and Attorney General have encouraged this myth—with the media promoting an agenda rather than dispassionately reporting facts.
The fact is, most Americans never should have even heard about a shooting involving Michael Brown and police officer Darren Wilson. Every day in communities large and small, criminals commit crimes that elicit interaction from the police. In the instant case, it is a fact that Michael Brown committed a crime in a small town on August 9, 2014, failed to heed Officer Wilson’s instructions, and was shot to death when the officer thought his life was in danger. The shooting never should have happened—a young man never should have committed a crime and never should have rushed at a police officer.
Sadly, this incident provided the perfect opportunity for those who think that America is inherently racist and permanently ensconced in a 1965 Selma, Alabama, mindset with an opportunity: an opportunity to declare that a racist cop had gunned down an innocent black youth as the teen shouted “Hands up, Don’t Shoot”—a fictional account that never happened.
On matters of race involving local police investigations, President Obama has not been shy about injecting himself into the narrative while shaping the desired outcomes. In 2009 when Harvard Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates had a disagreement with a Cambridge police officer outside of his home leading to his arrest, the president opined that the officer “acted stupidly.” Never mind that Mr. Gates didn’t have his keys and was thought to be breaking into a home by the police officer in question. What I found revealing at the time is that the president offered the Gates incident as showing how “race remains a factor in this society today” when the facts revealed race had nothing to do with the interaction between a professor and a police officer.
Turning to the ginned-up cauldron of race that is now Ferguson, the president was once again quick to offer his opinion on local matter on which he knew nothing of the facts at hand. Days following the shooting the president assured the press that he had sent both the FBI and the Department of Justice to investigate the shooting of Michael Brown. Of particular relevance, Mr. Obama offered:
“Of course, it’s important to remember how this started. We lost a young man, Michael Brown, in heartbreaking and tragic circumstances. He was 18 years old. His family will never hold Michael in their arms again. And when something like this happens, the local authorities—including the police—have a responsibility to be open and transparent about how they are investigating that death, and how they are protecting the people in their communities.”
The circumstances under which Brown lost his life are both heartbreaking and tragic—but not in the manner implied by the president. Rather than waiting for local authorities to complete their investigation, the president took sides—particularly with the “his family will never hold Michael in their arms again” line. The implication here is that a white police gunned down a young black man in a manner that was irresponsible and opaque.
The narrative thus set, Al Sharpton and the media descended upon Ferguson alongside outside agitators who marched with such slogans as “No Justice, No Peace” or “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.” More unrest would follow when the grand jury elected not to indict the officer for the tragic shooting. Riots and looting would ensue—with breathless coverage in the media and little from the President of the United States and the Attorney General to quell the violence.
The promised civil rights investigation by the Department of Justice was delivered on March 4, 2015. While the DOJ cited specific incidents of racism in the Ferguson police department leading to the resignation of the Mayor and the Chief of Police, the federal government substantiated the fact that Wilson’s shooting of Brown wasn’t motivated by race. The same Department of Justice that went into Ferguson to determine whether Michael Brown’s civil rights were violated left having concluded that Wilson’s shooting was deemed justified in light of the facts. I must give Holder’s Justice Department credit for this impartial finding. But I’m saddened that it was a finding that neither the president nor the media were interested in learning in the first place. The “America is racist” narrative was broadcast endlessly, and our president did nothing to stop it.
So today in Ferguson, our thoughts and prayers are with two shot police officers who are tasked to protect and serve their community. If only they were protected and served by an irresponsible president who sees racism around every corner and reported by a corrupt media all to happy to help write the storyline.