Whenever an unarmed young black man is shot dead by the police, white conservatives determined not to feel guilty flock to one news source for their absolution: National Review.
If you haven't been following National Review's coverage of the Michael Brown shooting and its aftermath in Ferguson, Missouri, you are really missing out on some of the most high-level point-missing and self-justification in all of Republican America. A (very) brief sampling of views from National Review all-stars is below. What do all of these disparate stories from uh, disparate columnists have in common? They explain why you, the upstanding mainstream conservative, are not to blame for this tragic—though isolated—incident.
The vast majority of us are doing our jobs, going to school, raising our kids, taking care of our loved ones, and trying to carve out a little leisure time. For most people, that comes close to filling up the day. It's insulting to suggest that Americans either chose for their poor communities to suffer such conditions, or somehow inadvertently forgot some action that would have rectified this — as if "fix the problems of America's most troubled communities" was on the to-do list between filling up the car with gas and picking up groceries.
"I blame society" is the ultimate cop-out. The American people have their flaws, but to assign a national collective blame for the actions of particular police officers and particular agitators is to perhaps unwittingly excuse the inexcusable.
The rush to condemn Wilson's conduct and the gallop to martyr Brown may have set land-speed records. The New Yorker, like numerous outlets, reported that Brown was walking to his grandmother's home when confronted by Wilson. A video released from the by turns hapless and devious Ferguson Police Department alleges that he was actually walking from a thuggish and brazen shoplifting of a box of cigars from a convenience store.
That video is almost surely irrelevant to Wilson's state of mind, since the police said he didn't know about the shoplifting incident. It is, however, inconvenient from the martyrdom angle.
Let's assume that it turns out that a policeman there acted with racial malice in killing a young black man. That may be one additional bit of evidence that the Left is justified in some part of its racial agenda, but one incident, no matter how dramatic, is not a universal proof. So it's important that justice be done in this case, but it won't tell us anything definitive about what goes on elsewhere..
If the shoe were on the other foot, and a young black man was accused of some horrific crime, no one on the left would concede that one young black man's guilt made the case for this or that policy that the Left opposed. They would argue, rightly, that one incident can't bear that much weight.
In that sense, even the old racial warhorses Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have become passé, as we've evolved now well beyond the misinformation and racialist politics of the Tawana Brawley carnival, the Duke Lacrosse caper, and the Trayvon Martin controversy. And so what was once written off as street theater has now been elevated to revolutionary jurisprudence — a lasting legacy of the Obama administration in general, and in particular the Holder Justice Department.
Outside of narrow circumstances that are tricky to hypothesize, rioting is an unmitigated ill — a breakdown of trust, of order, and of civil society that all enlightened people should resist. Insofar as the United States is the venue for such behavior, it reflects poorly on the country, and, for the most part, reveals that there is room for improvement here — as, human nature being immutable, there always will be. What there is little room for, by contrast, is flippant equating of the free world's leading nation with the tribal, backwards, war-torn nightmares of the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. There are riots in Missouri; but Iraq is still a long way away.
The most poisonous "-ism" now infecting Ferguson, Mo., is not virulent racism. It's viral narcissism.
I feel fine now :)