CNN contributor Sally Kohn has a bone to pick with all of you racists. Apparently unsatisfied with the unbelievably favorable coverage which Ferguson’s “peaceful protesters” have been receiving in the media, Kohn seeks to draw a comparison – while assuring us it’s not a comparison – between the months of riots, shootings, arson and assault in Missouri and (wait for it…) a pumpkin festival in New Hampshire. Where’s the outrage about all of these out of control white people?
But when white people got up in arms at the Pumpkin Festival in Keene, New Hampshire, a few weeks ago — for apparently no reason whatsoever — they were merely accused of “disruptive behavior.”
The two situations — protests in Ferguson and drunken violence in Keene — are not equivalent. However, it’s revealing how the two groups are perceived differently by society and and the media. How is it that the bad behavior of some black people is used to condemn an entire community, while the bad behavior of some white kids is excused and explained away? Maybe this is why residents of Ferguson protested in the first place.
I understand that there’s a temptation to read that first, jaw dropping introduction and just walk away shaking your head, but Kohn’s outrage really provides a good example of what passes for justifiable rationalization in the liberal media. Why, she appears to wonder, are the rioters in Ferguson described in such pejorative terms when a bunch of drunken white kids are treated differently when they were hurling broken glass and rocks at police (as well as, apparently, pumpkins).
Since Ms. Kohn is apparently confused and seeking answers, allow me to volunteer my services in my usual, helpful way. The fact is that we have plenty of harsh words for people like those college students. Let’s start with… idiots. You want to call them rioters? Fine. Count me in. They were rioting.
Nobody is saying that white people don’t go out and cause problems as these morons did, and sometimes they do far worse. The fans of the Detroit Pistons, particularly in the 90s, used to be legendary for trying to burn their city to the ground every time the team made it to the playoffs. Granted, that’s a pretty racially diverse crowd, but there were plenty of white people there, trust me. If you go across the pond you will find limitless examples of almost entirely white soccer hooligans causing all manner of mayhem during and after game time. Yes… they are rioters. Happy?
With that point out of the way, let’s focus on the original question of why the descriptions and coverage of these events are completely different. Let us first note one substantial difference in media treatment and, more importantly, public perception here. Nobody – and I mean nobody – is out there defending the morons at the pumpkin festival or the Pistons’ fans. Nobody is excusing their behavior. Nobody is calling them “peaceful protesters” (or protesters of any sort, for that matter) and coming up with reasons why their behavior is justified. They are idiots and are quickly identified as such.
Next we might ask why the coverage of such things fades so quickly. The reason is that the events themselves are over in rapid order. Unlike in Ferguson, where rampant violence or the threats of more of the same drag on for months on end, the rioters at the pumpkin festival were gone the same night. The next morning you saw the ones who were not in jail waking up with horrible hangovers, an embarrassed look on their faces, and probably calling in sick to work. That sort of story just doesn’t have a lot of staying power.
And finally, let’s not try to pretend that there is any sort of equivalence between the root cause and goals of the rioters in these scenarios. The pumpkin festival was a festival. It was a celebration. The drunken morons in the streets were celebrants. The rioting fans in Detroit were celebrating the victory of their team. In neither case did the room temperature IQ participants get together to organize an attack on the cops or on anything else. They were partying, and the conflicts with the cops erupted spontaneously when they attempted to break up the brain dead festivities. And – yet again – it happened and then it ended, with general feelings of shame and embarrassment all around.
That was never the case in Ferguson. These were planned protests and, yes, planned attacks. There was intentional violence. People showed up with guns and Molotov cocktails. And some of them were there specifically to attack the structure of law enforcement and the government. Nobody was celebrating a damn thing. It was a mob enforcing mob rules in a deliberate effort to disrupt the social order. No, this does not apply to every person out there. Some just wanted to carry signs, chant slogans and make their voices heard. But there were more than enough in the former category to constitute a mob. And, as such, I don’t plan on apologizing for calling it a mob.
Words have meaning, Ms. Kohn. And there is a clear reason why the rioters in Ferguson are not being described in the same fashion as the clueless cohort in Keene, New Hampshire. It’s because they are entirely different, and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference what color anyone’s skin was in either instance.