As long as I'm pointing out the obvious, I figure I should point out a few of the proverbial elephants in the living room in Ferguson, Missouri: the town is 70% black, but the government is overwhelmingly white. There are only two possible reasons for this: either blacks think that having their town run by whites is just hunky dory, or blacks in Fergusson don't vote. Unsurprisingly, the latter turns out to be the case.
According to a Washington Post analysis, an estimated 6% of blacks and 17% of whites turned out for the 2013 municipal elections in the townshipI was shocked by these numbers. It's not just that blacks don't vote, nobody votes in Ferguson! Let's do the math: Ferguson has about 21,000 residents. 70% are black, 30% white. So 21,000 x 0.7 x 0.06 = 880 black people voted, and 21,000 x 0.3 x 0.17 = 1070 white people voted.
As the mechanic who opened the hood of the non-function car only to find that the engine was gone said, "Well, there's yer problem right there." It would only take an additional 250 black voters showing up to completely reverse the power dynamic in Ferguson. That (and remember, this post is about pointing out the obvious) is far fewer than the number showing up to protest in the streets.
If there is a silver lining to Michael Brown's tragic death it is that Ferguson's black community might be finally driven out of their complacency. There are renewed efforts to register black voters there. And also unsurprisingly (pointing out the obvious again), Republicans are not happy about it:
In an interview with Breitbart News, Missouri RNC executive director Matt Wills expressed outrage about the reports [of efforts to register black voters].
“If that’s not fanning the political flames, I don’t know what is,” Wills said, “I think it’s not only disgusting but completely inappropriate.”So black people registering to vote is "disgusting and inappropriate" according to the Republicans. I'll say this for Matt Wills: at least he's willing to stand up for what he believes. But as long as I'm pointing out the obvious, I will once again celebrate the fact that we live in a great country, where everyone has a right to express their views, no matter how repugnant.
Finally, no discussion of Ferguson and repugnant views would be complete without giving a shout-out to Professor Sunil Dutta, an ex-police officer who opined in the Washington Post that the best strategy for not getting shot dead by a police officer is to unquestioning obsequiousness. Pointing out the obvious is starting the get a little old, so I'll leave it up to the fine folks at Reason.
If you have the attitude that you are owed deference and instant obedience by the people around you, and that you are justified in using violence against them if they don't comply, we already have a problem. That's especially true if official institutions back you up, which they do.
If you really think that everybody else should "just do what I tell you," you're wearing the wrong uniform in the wrong country. And if you really can't function with some give and take—a few nasty names, a little argument—of the sort that people in all sorts of jobs put up with every damned day, do us all a favor: quit.
The law enforcement problem in this country goes well beyond boys with toys. It's much deeper, and needs to be torn out by the roots.