Special Report

Neither Just Nor Peaceful

The crisis in Ferguson can’t be resolved with lies.

By 8.20.14

Send to Kindle

“No justice, no peace,” scream protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. Implicit in this menacing chant is that the rioting on display there for over a week has been justified. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, among other hucksters, disclaim the violence, even as they stoke it with reckless rhetoric. They aren’t interested in peace but power. Were they truly opposed to the violence, they wouldn’t coin chants that condone it.

“We’re not looters. We’re liberators,” says Sharpton. Liberating society from what? The rule of law? His view of justice is that the law be permanently suspended for the racially aggrieved. A police department can only satisfy his measure of racial progress by going soft on politically favored criminals. Sharpton is a “liberator” who enables looters.

It is clear that from his view of justice no peace will ever follow. It is a formula for new injustices and perpetually divided communities. It is “justice” without truth, giving rise to a culture in which facts, evidence, and universal standards don’t matter.

What will resolve the crisis in Ferguson, we’re told by advocates of this culture, is a hasty “arrest” and an “indictment” of the officer Darren Wilson who shot Michael Brown. If everyone agrees that Brown’s death was a racism-fueled murder, all will be well. Never mind that no hard evidence has emerged to establish anything close to that scenario.

Liberal activists are simply lying at this point when they call Brown’s death an “execution-style” killing. They have no idea what happened and they don’t seem to care. While inveighing against sloppy racial profiling, they indulge in it themselves, assuming the worst of this white police officer. While demanding transparency, they condemn any release of information that complicates the picture of Brown as a blameless teen incapable of resisting arrest.

What’s known so far about the officer’s encounter with Michael Brown and the circumstances surrounding it has already punctured their confident pronouncements. This case is beginning to look like a replay of the Zimmerman fiasco, where almost everything asserted at the beginning of it dissolved under close scrutiny.

Michael Brown wasn’t seized by officer Wilson and killed “like a dog,” as some on the left are eager to assert. He was on drugs and had minutes earlier robbed a store (strong-arming its clerk), fought with the police officer to the point where the officer sustained facial injuries, and, according to some witness testimony, charged the officer. The officer’s reported version of events—that he shot Brown only after an altercation that culminated in the almost-300-pound teen running toward him—is plausible enough. It should at least give one pause before calling for an indictment. Perhaps it will emerge that the officer acted out of fright or incompetence, but it appears unlikely that anything close to the original claim of an execution-style killing will be established. It doesn’t bode well for Sharpton’s side that the doctor who performed the autopsy for the family is already giving off hints that a serious altercation might have occurred. Dr. Michael Baden allowed that the bullet wounds might be consistent with Brown charging the officer and noted to Fox News that the marijuana in Brown’s system could explain his resistant behavior: “so that he may have been acting in a crazy way and may have done things to the police officer that normally he would not have done.”

And yet the authorities in Missouri, starting with its wishy-washy governor, Jay Nixon, have spent a great deal of time mollifying the mob while sending mixed signals to the police, which has been simultaneously criticized for aggression and passivity in its response to the riots. Showing little sympathy for the police at an impossibly chaotic time, the media has relished catching officers out in acts of misconduct, most of which have seemed debatable or minor. CNN’s Don Lemon was outraged that a police officer, assigned to clear a sidewalk, would dare interfere with his sacred broadcast and mildly push him and other members of the crowd back from the sidewalk. “We’re on national television,” he harrumphed. “Imagine what they’re doing to people you don’t see on national television.” Shopkeepers in Ferguson don’t share Lemon’s terror.

Instead of defending the law’s presumption of innocence for the officer, Nixon and his aides have been apologizing to agitators and expressing solidarity with them. It is hard to imagine that a political class as cowed as this one could resist an indictment of the officer. The massive pressure for an indictment—made even greater by Eric Holder coming to Missouri this week—is sure to produce one, and it will bring no peace.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author, with Phyllis Schlafly, of the new book, No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.