The recent shooting of Michael Brown, a young black man in Ferguson, Missouri by a white police officer has sparked a predictable response from the black community in Ferguson, unofficial black spokesmen like Al Sharpton, the media, and even from high public officials like President Obama and his Attorney General, Eric Holder.
Initially, Brown was described as a teenager but it soon was revealed that he was a hulking six foot four and weighed almost 300 pounds. A surveillance video showed him shoplifting in a convenience store and roughing up the relatively small proprietor who tried to stop him. Shortly, after the robbery Brown had a confrontation with the police officer for an unrelated reason. The full story has not yet been told but it appears that an altercation ensued before Brown was shot five or six times.
Brown’s death was followed by riots and looting. The governor of Missouri called in the national Guard for a while, and called not for an investigation, but for the prosecution of the police officer. Subsequently, President Obama spoke out and Attorney General Holder made the shooting a Federal case.
Contrast the situation in Ferguson with the situation in Chicago this year. So far this year there have been 255 homicides in Chicago. It is safe to assume that the majority of the victims were young black men shot down by other young black men. In 2013 there were 415 homicides in Chicago, down from the 516 in 2012.
Over the July 4 weekend there were 12 homicides on the streets of Chicago. Again most of the victims were young black men. I’m sure these killings made headlines in Chicago but I don’t think they attracted much attention either online or in the traditional media.
President Obama, who owns a home in Chicago, did not see fit to send Attorney General Holder there to speak out and take over from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former Obama aide. As far as I know there has been little outrage within Chicago’s black community, certainly not enough to make the Governor call our the National Guard. Even black activists like the ubiquitous Al Sharpton have seemed remarkably unconcerned by the deaths of so many young black men.
What is the difference between Chicago and Ferguson? Last year one of the most quoted lines from the first encyclical letter of Pope Francis was the following:
How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points…?
It is true that the Pope was making a point about the relative value of human life and money, but his statement raised an interesting point about news. It is not news when a homeless person dies of exposure because it happens all the time. In the same way it is not news when the stock market goes up or down two points because that is also a frequent, largely insignificant change. Coincidentally, it was news last month when the SP 500 Index went up two points but only because that market average crossed the 2000 mark for the first time.
In that sense homicides in Chicago are not news because they happen all the time. The killings of young black men by other young black men are also not news because they also occur with great frequency. The warfare going on in the streets of Chicago does not seem that important.
However, it is news when a young black man is shot by a white man, especially a police officer. It is news first because it happens so rarely. Ferguson is a city with a largely black population but how many blacks have been shot by members of its largely white police force? It is the same all over the country. Young black men are murdering each other at alarming rates, but activists close their eyes and claim that white police officers have declared war on black men.
This brings us to the second reason why the shooting in Ferguson was so newsworthy. Despite its rarity, the shooting of a black man by a white police officer inevitably brings forth cries of racism in a society permeated more by ignorant political correctness than by racism.
Political correctness will never be able to find, for example, racism among blacks. In a subtle form of racism some commentators believe that blacks are almost genetically immune to racism. Even though about 70% of the inmates in American prisons are black men, the criminals on American TV police dramas are usually white businessmen.
PC has also created many other privileged minorities who are above criticism. This last week a story in the Wall Street Journal told a shocking tale of child sex abuse in the United Kingdom. No, it was not Catholic priests preying on young boys, but immigrant Pakistani Moslem men who were abducting and forcing teenage white girls into a widespread prostitution ring. Only investigative newspaper reporting finally revealed the scandal that had been covered up by authorities for fear of offending politically correct sensibilities.