On Ferguson, stop bitching and pitch in

Greenwich-Voices-von-KeyserlingI have indulged in many hours of thought about the situation in Ferguson, Mo., and have developed a few conclusions.

It is so painful for many to examine truly the Ferguson situation and even social telltales like the media have adjusted the text. The grand jury “failed to indict,” which presupposes that there was a miscarriage of justice. But this is not so and that has been confirmed to me by legal experts and “people of color” who have read and studied the grand jury transcripts. They feel justice was served: 70 hours of solid testimony and forensic evidence were held against two questionable “eyewitnesses” (one was the robber’s partner and the other an 80-plus-year-old woman observing from a 13th story window).

The media say the policeman shot an “unarmed victim.” Victim? It is stipulated by all that Mr. Brown was being apprehended by a police officer as a result of beating and robbing an old man in a local retail store. He was an accused and identified felon. He was six foot three inches and over 300 pounds, not the 14-year-old portrayed in his dressed-up middle school portrait (the only picture I have seen of Mr. Brown in the media). He fought with the arresting officer, causing severe physical damage to that officer, and then was charging back with the appearance of the intent of further bodily harm, if not deadly intent.

He had struggled with the police officer to grab the service revolver, which was discharged twice inside the patrol car.

The media statistics of African-Americans is skewed out of context. Therefore, conclusions drawn from them are generally erroneous and misleading. As regrettable as any police shooting may be, they are relatively rare statistically. Last year the whole national total was a mere 409, and that includes aberrations like accidents and “suicide by cop.” Rudy Giuliani recently stated public homicides almost exclusively involve black males between 14 and 24 and 93% of all black youth shot and killed are done so by another black youth. There is no coverage of black violence as a social disorder.

I am wise enough to know that no sane and productive outcome will evolve from an emotional frenzy of righteous indignation, especially when the complainants take no personal responsibility in the matter. I find the “black and white” logic (excuse an ironic pun) an affront.

I am saddened that no one seems to have any sympathy for the police officer, as if he were simply an object aka “The Man.” He was absolved of any wrongdoing in his performance of duty, after extraordinary scrutiny. Yet he is being harassed and his life credibly threatened by zealots who wish to carry out “street justice” (and yet my friends get so indignant about “redneck lynch mobs”). He had to resign his career, and probably change his whole identity, life, and geography. No matter, since people knew he was guilty. “We don’t need no stinkin’ laws.”

No one seems to care about the officer’s field of view, about his mortal fear after trying lesser remedy and the second perpetrator lurking to the side. No one cares about the effect on this man’s life from the consequences of doing his job (one may parse how well or badly).

There is plenty of discrimination out there and plenty of work to be done before we have “Heaven on Earth.” But please acknowledge that my generation has had the privilege to witness, and sometime effect, the greatest social shift in the history of our country.

All of my classmates’ reminiscences of racism 40 years ago were of blatant circumstance, which almost never apply today. No black lunch counters, buses, and public facilities. No “separate but equal” education, even at higher levels. No more poll tax and other voting laws to quell minority voting. We witnessed the Johnson Great Society that hugely changed the public view of government assistance and safety nets. We even have a black president.

Resist contributing to zealotry and emotional binges of guilt-driven righteousness. In this new Christmas season, let us all start fresh and tidy our own yards.

Christopher von Keyserling is a Republican and a longtime member of the town’s Representative Town Meeting, though the opinions expressed in this column are his own.

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