Ferguson is on fire? Blacks are looting and trashing black stores, homes, and even churches? Who could have imagined? There is really nothing to be said about such events, as predictable as a celebrity face lift and as unsightly as a Kim Kardashian photo shoot.
Those of us who lived through the 60’s have seen it all before, albeit on black and white television. Remember the Watts riots, when black thugs burned and looted their own neighborhood. It took days, back then, for network reporters to convince the looters that, in boosting tvs and stereos, they were really asserting their civil rights. Back then, race-baiters like Martin Luther King stirred up the violence by predicting it, virtually demanding it, everywhere he went. Taken to task in the Senate for his self-fulfilling prophecies, King repeated that unless they passed the legislation he demanded, there would be blood in the streets. Back then, any honest commentator knew the truth, and some, like the late Edward Banfield in his fine book, The Unheavenly City actually spoke it. That is probably still the one book that best sums up what is going on today.
These days, baffled commentators and lonely young men writing into websites are asking: “Why do they burn their own neighborhoods?” The answers to that are pretty obvious. First, because their own houses and shops are right there, soft targets for thugs too lazy to go across town. Second, because if the Watts looters had gone to Hollywood, it would have been a massacre. The cops in affluent suburbs are hired to protect the taxpayers, and in places like Beverley Hills or Wilmette, Illinois, affluent property-owners hire private protection services that will not hesitate to shoot a trespasser, much less a looter.
Instinctively, the thugs know they are no match for middle class Americans, a high number of whom not only have guns but—unlike the thugs—know how to use them. I have talked to any number of cops and young white trouble-makers who have been shot at by gang-bangers. They love automatic weapons, because of the noise and the spray of bullets, but even with them they are unlikely to hit their target. Every week in Chicago, some child is killed in a botched drive-by shooting whose perpetrators could, literally, not shoot fish in a barrel.
The thugs, whipped up by our latter-day race-baiters, one of whom is in the White House and another heads the Justice Department, are dangerous only because white politicos like the contemptible Jay Nixon refuse to do their duty. Back then, the Black Panthers took to threatening and shooting at Chicago policeman. Old Mayor Daley gave the order, and the problem was, ahem, eliminated.
I feel sorry for the decent people, black as well as white, in Ferguson and St. Louis, who are under siege from these savages, but I have no sympathy for white Obama-voters and middle-class blacks who owe everything they have to the generosity of affirmative action policies and yet still recite the tired old slogans about slavery and Jim Crow. I tell my dwindling number of black friends and acquaintances that they have to choose which side they are on. Perhaps they could wear an identification badge of some kind. For a brief moment of stupidity I thought the badge could have a picture of an elephant, but, as Clyde Wilson would be the first to tell us, the GOP is more culpable in the long run than the Democrats.
The problem is not the gang-bangers who cannot shoot straight or even their race-baiting leaders that TV-watching Americans must be tired of seeing every night on their screens. The problem is not even leftwing Democrats who have something to gain from pandering to a voting base that consists exclusively of whining minorities, welfare dependents and public school teachers (a distinction without a difference), and people who confuse the words reproductive and excretory. No, the problem is Republicans, and, specifically, conservative Republicans who will not tell the truth about anything involving any minority groups, who cannot bear so much as to hear the inoffensive whispers of the truth uttered by John Derbyshire.
For a reality-check on American conservatives, I made a brief visit to several conservative websites. The best comment I could find was a Michelle Malkin column (syndicated) defending the police. The most telling, however, was a column that described Ferguson as the Left’s Benghazi. If the oblique verbiage means anything—and I am not entirely sure that it does—it is either that some die-hard “Libtards” will obsess over Ferguson the way Republicans did over Benghazi or, perhaps that some die-hard “Wingnuts" actually think the Ferguson thuggery is symptomatic of an underlying racial conflict in America. Who knows? The one significant thing about the argument is that the tar baby ain’t say nothing.
Conservatives these days can only look at reality indirectly through the mirror: How will this effect the next election? Look at how Holder and Obama stirred things up! The Left is making hay from white anger. Back in the Cold War, East European intellectuals, avoiding the Gulag and perhaps worse, took refuge in beast fables. Conservative editorialists today, fearing the disapproval of The Washington Post, take refuge in media analysis and “one the other hand” arguments that cover their retreat.
I have been saying this for 30 years: You can’t win, if you don’t fight. And to this one can add the corollary, that you can’t fight if you cannot even fake enough courage to speak out on events exploding in the headlines. As the Panthers used to say, when they tried to hustle me on the streets, “If you not part of the solution, you part of the problem.”
Thomas Fleming is the former editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of The Politics of Human Nature, Montenegro: The Divided Land, and The Morality of Everyday Life, named Editors' Choice in philosophy by Booklist in 2005. He is the coauthor of The Conservative Movement and the editor of Immigration and the American Identity. He holds a Ph.D. in classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Rockford Institute, he taught classics at the University of Miami of Ohio, served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, and was headmaster at the Archibald Rutledge Academy. He has been published in, among others, The Spectator (London), Independent on Sunday (London), Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Review, Classical Journal, Telos, and Modern Age. He and his wife, Gail, have four children and four grandchildren.