Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Very Sad Night for America

In the days to come there'll doubtless be much commentary on the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri.

I don't know whether or not the black community in Ferguson has been mistreated by the police over the years, as has been claimed. Maybe they have. Maybe some of the treatment about which the community has complained is warranted by the circumstances that exist in their community. In any case, even if there have been unjustifiable abuses by the Ferguson police force that doesn't mean that Officer Wilson was one of the offenders, and it is unconscionable to insist that he be made a scapegoat regardless of whether he acted properly in the shooting of Michael Brown.

Justice demands that individuals be treated according to how they behave, not according to the behavior of others who may have the same job or may be of the same religion or race. To demand an indictment and to riot, burn businesses, and threaten lives because the grand jury didn't believe the evidence warranted the indictment the rioters insisted upon is disgraceful.

Some of the businesses that were burned last night were small minority-owned enterprises whose owners have lost everything. No doubt all of the ruined businesses employed blacks who now find themselves out of work. The actions that deprived these people of their livelihoods were not only criminal they were incredibly stupid.

The rioters didn't care about the exculpatory evidence presented to the grand jury, much of it by black witnesses. They didn't care whether Officer Wilson was in danger of being done great harm by Michael Brown. Many of them probably didn't even care about Michael Brown.

What they cared about was that a white cop killed a black man, and given that solitary fact, the cop is, in their minds, ipso facto guilty. Moreover, if he's not punished they'll take matters into their own hands and burn down the stores and other businesses which employ them, and then they'll wonder in a year or two why no businesses want to open in their neighborhood and why they have to travel across town to shop.

If Americans cannot base guilt and innocence on facts and evidence, but must base it instead on some racial calculus - one tribe pitted against another - then we are in real danger of devolving toward the sort of mindless feuds and hatreds that plague the Arab world, and our civilization, built on the rule of law, truly is in peril.

David Harsanyi at The Federalist has some wise words on the Ferguson situation. I recommend his column.