Uh oh: Columnists now calling situation in Ferguson a ‘race war’

posted at 8:41 am on August 18, 2014 by Noah Rothman

The violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown only grew more intense over the weekend. As the primarily, but not exclusively, African-American locals continue express dissatisfaction with the state of American law enforcement, some of the nation’s commentators are examining the societal circumstances which have led these protesters to believe they have so few stakes in the system that they are prepared to take the risks associated with participating in mass violence.

A few political commentators have observed that there is something gravely wrong with our urban centers. They see the violence in Ferguson, which has been welcomed and celebrated by sympathizers in many of America’s great metropolises, as evidence of the breakdown of the social contract. Though perspectives vary widely as to what element of that contract is in breach.

National Review’s Kevin Williamson, for example, noted that many of these cities have experimented with virtually uninterrupted progressive governance for over half a century, promoted the state over the family, and put their faith in redistributive economic policies to provide social mobility. The results are predictable disappointment and, in some regrettable cases, violence.

Progressives spent a generation imposing taxes and other expenses on urban populations as though the taxpaying middle class would not relocate. They protected the defective cartel system of public education, and the union money and votes associated with it, as though middle-class parents would not move to places that had better schools. They imposed burdens on businesses, in exchange for more union money and votes, as though businesses would not shift production elsewhere. They imposed policies that disincentivized stable family arrangements as though doing so would have no social cost.

But the liberal perspective is quite different. A handful of influential writers on the left are raising concerns about the coming “race war.”

“This fist-shaking of everyone’s racial agenda distracts America from the larger issue that the targets of police overreaction are based less on skin color and more on an even worse Ebola-level affliction: being poor,” wrote former NBA player and Time columnist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in his column which warned of a coming “race war” that won’t be about race at all.

“Of course, to many in America, being a person of color is synonymous with being poor, and being poor is synonymous with being a criminal,” he added.

With each of these shootings/chokehold deaths/stand-your-ground atrocities, police and the judicial system are seen as enforcers of an unjust status quo. Our anger rises, and riots demanding justice ensue. The news channels interview everyone and pundits assign blame.

Abdul-Jabbar did not excuse the violence which has erupted in Ferguson, but he did seem to absolve those who believe that the hopelessness of their situation justifies dramatic actions designed to drive national attention toward their circumstances.

“The middle class has to join the poor and whites have to join African-Americans in mass demonstrations, in ousting corrupt politicians, in boycotting exploitative businesses, in passing legislation that promotes economic equality and opportunity, and in punishing those who gamble with our financial future,” Abdul-Jabbar added.

The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky was more blunt in his column noting that Ferguson is one battle in the larger, ongoing “urban-suburban race war.”

“[T]here’s a larger story here about race in America that involves the transformation of inner-ring suburbs over the last 30 years, and the response to that transformation, which have combined to create tensions that often rage in the suburban areas that surround our major cities,” he wrote. “These tensions are almost wholly about race.”

The Daily Beast columnist echoed themes similar to those touched on by Williamson about gentrification, tax policy, and the flight of the tax base. Tomasky’s conclusions diverged slightly, though, from those of the National Review columnist.

So even as black people pushed their way out into the suburbs, they typically haven’t done so in large enough numbers to gain real political power. This means that while the political power in many cities is in black hands today, whites still tend to run things in the counties within which those cities rest. Thus, one sub-story of the last 20 or so years in America has been a quiet but constant power struggle between municipal and county governments over who has what authority.

“The specific issue is this that juries in the United States are drawn from county-wide population pools,” Tomasky wrote of the situation in Ferguson. “This means, as the criminologist William Stuntz has observed, that people from large counties with exurbs and farms are often sitting in judgment of urban kids.”

While the language about a “race war” is somewhat irresponsible and largely unfounded (and would be the considered the height of recklessness had they been written by a conservative), the notion that some of these protests were sparked by a sense of desperation at the start is valid and important. It is worth having a national discussion about the criminal justice system, which many on the right and left believe is in desperate need of reform. But it is not fair to suggest that the current momentum and the tempo of these protests are entirely due to social dissatisfaction.

On Sunday night, amid some of the worst rioting in Ferguson yet, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was forced to call in the National Guard. The officer in charge of the police response in Ferguson, Capt. Ron Johnson, determined that premeditated and coordinated attacks were being executed by protesters against police and on private businesses. Directionless expressions of social distress by a disenfranchised minority do not take the form of managed and focused assaults. That is the work of the criminals who have hijacked these protests for their own ends.

These columnists are correct to examine the origins of these protests and determine that they are founded in root causes far more universal than the shooting death of one teenager. They have, however, apparently evolved to a point now where they no longer resemble social unrest at all. In fact, they look much more like the majority of history’s reptilian mobs; common, recognizable, and fleeting, the majority of those violent outbursts did not herald some grand social transformation.


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Comment pages: 1 2

“Remember Ferguson!” will be our battle cry for Election Day in 2014 and 2016.

Frank Lib on August 18, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Now that’s funny right there.

Bitter Clinger on August 18, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Frank Lib is getting pretty good at this … whatever it is…

There Goes the Neighborhood on August 18, 2014 at 9:17 AM

Wow! I thought that was a funny piece of sarc until I read the original commenter. I agree with BC and TGtN.

freedomfirst on August 18, 2014 at 10:42 AM

This isn’t about race except for the fact that the left has hoodwinked minorities with alarming success. This is about the control exerted by the public school system, the press, the left in this country that teaches from cradle to grave that people who have little are oppressed and have little through no fault of their own, which entitles them to have whatever they want in retribution.

It is nuts. It is coming to a city near all of us and it is contrived.
Crazy lib is right, this will be the mantra of the next 2 election cycles and it will work.

ORconservative on August 18, 2014 at 10:44 AM

I know a lot of suburban and upper crust conservatives think this is crazy talk, but poor whites know what is going on and its already a race war. Read the Turner Diaries….It is more prescient than ever..

Redstone357 on August 18, 2014 at 10:44 AM

they typically haven’t done so in large enough numbers to gain real political power

.

That’s all you need to read. It is all about race, the left using race to divide and destroy this country. If a black family moves into a mostly white suburb, what issues do they need political power to effect? Don’t all the residents have the same issues; utility bills, schools, roads and traffic, etc.

The more posts I read from this rothman guy the more obvious it is that he is an ed clone, a fence sitting squishy pseudo-intellectual.

Let me simplify it for you noah, a predator in Fergusen, MO. attacked a police officer and was shot and killed and his intellectual, psychological equals have been looting for 5 days while less criminal minded residents, who are still brainwashed, democrat/leftist professional victims, scream for the lynching of the police officer. Got it?

peacenprosperity on August 18, 2014 at 11:22 AM

This guy, as far as I’m concerned, tells it like it is, but you’d never know it from the comments on his vid or in the comments on FB where I also saw this posted. He’s just another Uncle Tom to the other blacks and of course the white people who might agree with him just “don’t understand.”

PatriotGal2257 on August 18, 2014 at 11:22 AM

The only “race” involved is “protestors” RACING to loot the nearest liquor store.

GarandFan on August 18, 2014 at 11:25 AM

Hey Rothman, YOUR FRIENDS at MSNBC are lying and spinning like tops trying to change and influence what the autopsy reports are saying. YOU better get over there to help them, they are falling flat on their collective faces……

Realdemocrat1 on August 18, 2014 at 11:28 AM

I know a lot of suburban and upper crust conservatives think this is crazy talk, but poor whites know what is going on and its already a race war. Read the Turner Diaries….It is more prescient than ever..

Redstone357 on August 18, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Oh for the love of…

The TURNER Diaries? Really?

BlaxPac on August 18, 2014 at 11:31 AM

I watched past midnoght Missouri time and it looked quiet. When did all the violence start? Keep trying to spin that “the majority” of people are “peaceful protesters”……Liberal Democrat American ISIS soldiers have egg all over their collective faces……Even Tamaron Hall is playing the race card every chance she gets…..

Realdemocrat1 on August 18, 2014 at 11:32 AM

Just as Muslims can die in the hundreds of thousands with little or no Arab getting his keffiyeh in a wad, but let one rocket launcher get obliterated by Israel and the cacophony of rending dishdāshas will cause permanent deafness amongst half of the globe’s inhabitants. Blacks can kill each other by the dozens and the above will say nothing other than the perfunctory ‘It’s Whitey’s fault…or da JOOOOOOOOOOOOS!’

Resist We Much on August 18, 2014 at 11:33 AM

The Liberal RACIST Al Sharpton is very disturbing in the divisive hate speak coming out of his mouth…..

Realdemocrat1 on August 18, 2014 at 11:34 AM

This is not a national issue. Chicago killings are not NATIONAL ISSUES…….

Realdemocrat1 on August 18, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Frank Lib on August 18, 2014 at 9:05 AM

“Loyal Dem”, good to see you expanded over to HA from Townhall.

Just like there, you’re trapping the ones with no appreciation for sarcasm or humor!

ZeusGoose on August 18, 2014 at 11:38 AM

BIG MIKE BROWN was bull rushing the cop and the cop was shooting his gun…..And an eyewitness says BIG MIKE BROWN “wasn’t being stopped by the bullets or the cop was missing”……..

Realdemocrat1 on August 18, 2014 at 11:39 AM

The Democrat American ISIS Liberals are not gonna give up as long as their boys are in the White House and the Dept. of Injustice….They are working feverishly to unravel America.

Realdemocrat1 on August 18, 2014 at 11:41 AM

“… which have led these protesters to believe they have so few stakes in the system that they are prepared to take the risks associated with participating in mass violence.”

Well, I mean, if you word it like that…

Tsar of Earth on August 18, 2014 at 11:45 AM

Oh for the love of…

The TURNER Diaries? Really?

BlaxPac on August 18, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Ignore it, it’s probably a troll from StromFront or dKos. I’ve actually read The Turner Diaries. Took me a week of scrubbing in the shower with a stainless steel wire brush to feel clean again. Complete nazi style horseshit and terribly written to boot.

Oldnuke on August 18, 2014 at 11:55 AM

Ignore it, it’s probably a troll from StromFront or dKos. I’ve actually read The Turner Diaries. Took me a week of scrubbing in the shower with a stainless steel wire brush to feel clean again. Complete nazi style horseshit and terribly written to boot.

Oldnuke on August 18, 2014 at 11:55 AM

I know…I too read the “book” and while I didn’t scrub, I laughed so long it actually HURT…anyone insane enough to buy into that kinda shoddy reading isn’t much of a threat, since they wouldn’t be able to put together a decent sandwich, let alone rebuild a Republic from the ashes of an old one.

:snort: Turner Diaries…Christ.

Not even *decent* socks to play with…

BlaxPac on August 18, 2014 at 12:16 PM

lol, im not a plant from anywhere. I am however not afraid to speak truth to power when it comes to race in this country. The Turner Diaries pretty much describe exactly what this country is melting into…It is hard to believe the guy wrote that book so long ago and go it so right. I am not advocating that Whites start a war, but what I am saying is that you had better have enough CO Jones to know when your in one…and you are in one, whether you accept it or not like the liberals with the Islamofacists does not matter. I supported Herman Cain for president, I am not a nazi, so just put away the reactionary nonsense and save it for the kids.

Redstone357 on August 18, 2014 at 12:26 PM

CNN several years ago ran an advertisement for themselves declaring THEY make the news and tell people what to think about….WOW!

What the media is doing now is no different thatn what the NAACP, Al Sharpton, and Jessie Jackson (who was BOOed after shamelessly engaged in fund-raising while at the podium talking about Brow) are doing…’Racism’ is a MULTI-Billion dollar industry in the US. There is no money and many jobs to lose by actually healing and uniting the country! ‘Racism’ / ‘division’ makes money, it keeps people divided & that helps politics. People are such friggin’ sheep they have no clue that they are being abused / manipulated by everyone from the news, the NAACP, their own politicians – everyone who is making a living off of pushing ‘racism’ and being a ‘race-baiter’!

easyt65 on August 18, 2014 at 12:53 PM

white-against-black economically impacts the future of the black community. Black-against-white has almost no measurable social impact

- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in Time magazine

This is quite possibly the stupidest thing I have seen printed in a major establishment news magazine in quite some time. (And I realize that this is quite a tough standard to meet.)

Of course there is a “measurable social impact” from black-on-white crime. What business owner in his right mind would build a business in Ferguson, Missouri now? What about the jobs that were destroyed, when the looters destroyed the businesses that provided them? What about the middle class and working class families (of all colors) who will flee the threat of violence, and take their taxes with them?

The most bigoted man I ever met – he dropped the N word like he thought he was a rap star or something – did not grow up in the deep south. He grew up in Boston – in a majority minority neighborhood. Got his but kicked on a regular basis in High School, by members of the local “majority” ethnic group. Obviously, these negative experiences shaped his worldview. (Just to clarify, he hated me too.)

I almost wonder if racialists like Al Sharpton (or, now, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) encourage black-on-white crime BECAUSE IT CREATES BIGOTS. After all, creating more bigots helps to justify their existence.

SubmarineDoc on August 18, 2014 at 1:37 PM

I don’t think it even needs to be pointed out, but a genuine race war in this country would be the worst thing that ever happened to African Americans in this nation, and I’m including slavery in that list.

Rusty Nail on August 18, 2014 at 1:48 PM

The Jabaar piece could be the most incoherent article I gave ever read.

Ellis on August 18, 2014 at 10:30 AM

LOL. It really was a mess.

justltl on August 18, 2014 at 2:21 PM

“Of course, to many in America, being a person of color is synonymous with being poor, and being poor is synonymous with being a criminal,” he added.

Clueless, irredeemable twaddle.

Midas on August 18, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Obama, as president, could have greatly improved the economic and social ills of the black community.
For that he would have had complete bipartisan political support as well as the support of the population at large. He would have had an eternally positive legacy for this.
But instead he accomplished the exact opposite and will have left the black community in a vastly worse state.
This, in my opinion, will be one of his greatest failures.

justltl on August 18, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Glad to see the press finally calling a spade a spade.

As long as we continue to have these deep pockets of Republican-controlled cesspools it will be open season on victimized African-Americans. We must remind all Americans, but especially blacks, Latinos, women, the poor, and the homosexuals, that only be electing Democrats can they hope to one day live in a safe and discrimination-free community.

“Remember Ferguson!” will be our battle cry for Election Day in 2014 and 2016.

Frank Lib on August 18, 2014 at 9:05 AM

I too dream of the day when we can all be as safe, as free, and as respectful of all cultures as the Democrat held bastion of freedom… Detroit.

Don’t you guys wish you lived in Detroit?

Hey, there’s your 2014 and 2016 rallying cry… We want to make the entire country JUST LIKE DETROIT!

I’m sure it’ll be a winner… what could possibly go wrong?

gekkobear on August 18, 2014 at 3:48 PM

The Jabaar piece could be the most incoherent article I gave ever read.

Ellis on August 18, 2014 at 10:30 AM

LOL. It really was a mess.

justltl on August 18, 2014 at 2:21 PM

Concussions?

slickwillie2001 on August 18, 2014 at 4:28 PM

“The middle class has to join the poor and whites have to join African-Americans in mass demonstrations, in ousting corrupt politicians, in boycotting exploitative businesses

I am with the big man on this. Since Obama is the corrupt politician meeting with the “exploitative businesses” TODAY, we should demonstrate against the man and get this corrupt bastard out of office and put these exploitative businesses out of business too. Who knew Kareem felt just like me.

KMav on August 18, 2014 at 4:59 PM

When my brother ran the Crime Prevention unit for one of our local, large suburban Dallas police departments, his team would go to the initial Neighborhood Watch meetings and start their presentations for the folks who were concerned with the gang activity. One of the first things that always came up was how these people had moved to this city from Dallas to “get away from the gangs” that were taking over their old neighborhoods. Invariably, the complaint was…”we’re still being victimized by the gangs”. At that point, the Gang Intelligence officers would break out their books of pictures of the “known gang members” in the area and just sort of ask…”how many of these faces do you recognized?” They were recognizing their own kids and their friends….THEY BROUGHT THE GANGS WITH THEM.

TexasEngineer on August 18, 2014 at 5:57 PM

I would suggest to these columnists they should be very careful what they wish for.

bflat879 on August 18, 2014 at 8:32 PM

It’s not going to be a race war, it will be a class war. Brought on by the stifling policies of the progressives. The upper upper elites will be able to flee or hide behind security and walls.

But the middle class, made up of producers of all colors/backgrounds/genders/orientation will be stuck fighting off the takers of all colors/backgrounds/genders/orientation.

It will be the makers vs the takers, and it will be deadly, violent, and last longer than most realize. The police and the feds are arming up. The military may end up getting involved, on which side I’m not sure.

This is the repeat of the French Revolution, 1917, Mao, and on and on.

Only this time it will be recorded on Iphones and Androids.

This guy basically foretells of it. Of course, being a Kareem and on the left, he blames the Right. He’s wrong on the source, but right on the outcome.

http://time.com/3132635/ferguson-coming-race-war-class-warfare/

archer52 on August 18, 2014 at 9:19 PM

If they want a race war, let’s see how quickly I can brush up on my USMC marksmanship. For the record, I was a Navy Hospital Corpsman. I served my first enlistment with the Marines.

307wolverine on August 18, 2014 at 11:55 PM

Why do only columnists insist on calling any conflict between two ethnic cultures a “Race War”? It sells.

The truth is that when different cultures disagree that is all it is a disagreement. In the case of Ferguson, one member of one culture chooses break the law and disregard for civil obedience. When confronted, the perp forces law enforcement to take action to protect the public and the officer. The end result, the perp lost his life and those that were just looking for trouble began the riot they wanted to begin in the first place.

Ferguson is not a issue of race (except in the mind of the media) it is simply the need to use force to protect persons and property.

When the media begins to tell the truth about such incidents, not create false images that stoke the fire of hate for headlines.

MSGTAS on August 20, 2014 at 9:18 AM

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