The protests chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” in the wake of the police killings in Missouri, New York, and elsewhere, will draw comparisons. They’re less pious than the Civil Rights Movement and they have the same ...
The protests chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” in the wake of the police killings in Missouri, New York, and elsewhere, will draw comparisons. They’re less pious than the Civil Rights Movement and they have the same problem as Occupy: a loose organization with no clear demands. But there are demands, and leaders, too, who are a big part of the story here. Young people of color, more women than men, and lots of them gay and lesbian, with a new common culture and , here and there, a critical analysis: of a society that they say has been resegregated, defunded, and overpoliced for too long.
A generation is on the march in the nation’s poorest places and on college campuses everywhere. Where do they want to take us? If you’ve led or joined the protests in Ferguson or anywhere in the past on the subject of police brutality, justice or inequality, please leave us a message by clicking here or on the microphone icon above. If you prefer, you can use your phone and call (617) 353-0692.
We’d like to know why you’re protesting, what you’re hoping for, and the details of your experience. (Onlookers, feel free to leave us a message, too!) Is there something building here, something new and maybe vital? We’ll include the best ones on the air and on our site.
We’re all caught in the floodlights of Ferguson, Missouri, still reeling from the death of Michael Brown and the non-indictment of Darren Wilson, the man who shot him. We seem to be seeing American society ...
We’re all caught in the floodlights of Ferguson, Missouri, still reeling from the death of Michael Brown and the non-indictment of Darren Wilson, the man who shot him. We seem to be seeing American society down to every fragile, moving part.
There were signs this summer, from the chief of police and the top highway cop, that the signs in might point to progress. But in the end Brown’s family and their supporters were met by a prosecutor, with deep ties to the police, playing defense on live television, and a president preaching restraint to a world that didn’t, and doesn’t, seem to be listening.
Since then we’ve watched a new outbreak of anger around the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland police and the non-indictment, too, of the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death on Staten Island this summer.
In all this it was the comedian Chris Rock who broke through, in interview with Frank Rich in New York magazine:
When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before… To say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress…
There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.
It’s about white people adjusting to a new reality?
Owning their actions. Not even their actions. The actions of your dad. Yeah, it’s unfair that you can get judged by something you didn’t do, but it’s also unfair that you can inherit money that you didn’t work for.
So if the story began in Ferguson, its roots in racism and its structures are national and historical. Michael Brown embodies a generation of young black men who are living poorer lives, nearer to violence and crime, with an exaggerated danger of wrongful death by cop, “wasted“, in many ways, by the country they call home.
The protests carry on and for now, as the protestors say, Ferguson is everywhere — not just in the news, but in our institutions, our interactions, and our ideas. We know Ferguson when we see it: another killing, another lost life, another city inflamed. But what does justice look like, and when will we — all of us — be satisfied?
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The Divide by the Numbers
In the so-called “age of colorblindness” there are still ways to detect racial bias everywhere nationally — the American division into what the Kerner Commission called “two societies… separate and unequal” almost 50 years ago.
One is visceral, visual and individual: to watch the videos that have surfaced of, for example, the killing of Eric Garner and Tamir Rice by police, and to wonder whether race might have played a role in the killings. But another is analytical — to look at the experience of black people nationwide in terms of encounters with police and the justice system, and within the American economy.
The current ratio of the black unemployment rate to the white one, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — meaning that where the white unemployment rate hits 4.8%, among black Americans it’s 9.7%. (This number has been startlingly consistent since 1970, never dropping below 1.75.)
China is out-manufacturing us. Islam is outbreeding us — even as Muslim sects tear each other apart. The price of all-the-world’s energy, oil, is going nuts. The Anglo-American end of the Atlantic alliance seems to ...
China is out-manufacturing us.
Islam is outbreeding us — even as Muslim sects tear each other apart.
The price of all-the-world’s energy, oil, is going nuts.
The Anglo-American end of the Atlantic alliance seems to have spiraled down in embarrassment in Iraq.
These are the fresh elements in the Scots historian Niall Ferguson’s recurrent War of the World nightmare. And they extend the theme in his subtitle: Twentieth Century Conflict and the Descent of the West.
Ferguson’s monster page-turner (all 767 of them, including fascinating notes, acknowledgements, bibliography and an appendix about war deaths) is notionally about the past. The war in his title was the 50-year “Age of Hatred,” from Japan’s war with Russia in 1904 to the end of the Korean War in 1953.
The scary point, though, is that the three-E root causes of the Fifty Years War as Ferguson tracks them through Central and Eastern Europe a century ago all turn up anew in the Middle East today and tomorrow. Ferguson’s lethal E’s are: (1) Ethnic hatred, or the break-up even of intermarried “pudding” populations like Sarajevo of old, or Beirut; (2) Empires in the falling-apart stage, more dangerous than empires in full bloom; and (3) Economic volatility, which can undo social harmony whether prices and profits are shooting up, down or sideways.
I read Ferguson with rapt fascination, but with my dukes up. After our last Open Source encounter in March, he inscribed his book Empire (2002) “To Chris … who thinks me an appalling old imperialist, which I’m not.” I observed on our page that Ferguson “is more nearly a beguiling young imperialist with a fierce nostalgia for British rule.”
In his celebratory tome on empire, he enumerated all the reasons that Americans make lousy imperialists: it’s not in our history, or our blood, or our present day finances, or our skill set. And still Ferguson urged the US literally, in Kipling’s words without Kipling’s ironies, to “Take up the White Man’s Burden” and plunge with full force into Iraq in 2003. His newspaper columns in recent months sound to me all too ready for a double-suicide war between Iran and Israel.
Simon Schama acknowledged Ferguson on our air last week as one of his best friends in the history-writing game and, at the same time, his “arch enemy” as to what history is telling us today. In this conversation we will be counting on the anti-imperial David Rieff to keep Ferguson honest and the conversation on the level.