I’d like to share some of the more interesting and enlightening pieces on Ferguson I’ve come across. Among other things, they argue against the belief that riots and some of their more aggressive aspects – looting, property destruction – are inherently bad. Do take a moment to read them. Even if you don’t entirely agree with the writers’ conclusions, you might walk away with a a more nuanced perspective.
“Barack Obama, Ferguson, and the Evidence of Things Unsaid,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
“In Defense of the Ferguson Riots,” by Robert Stephen II.
“Smashy, Smashy: Nine Historical Triumphs to Make You Rethink Property Destruction,” by Jesse A. Myerson and Jóse Martín.
“In Defense of Looting,” by Willie Osterweil.
A great quote from Osterweil’s piece:
The mystifying ideological claim that looting is violent and non-political is one that has been carefully produced by the ruling class because it is precisely the violent maintenance of property which is both the basis and end of their power. Looting is extremely dangerous to the rich (and most white people) because it reveals, with an immediacy that has to be moralized away, that the idea of private property is just that: an idea, a tenuous and contingent structure of consent, backed up by the lethal force of the state.
Last week, I had a conversation with some family members about the events in Ferguson. With the grand jury’s decision on the way, some of them were confident that Darren Wilson was going to be indicted for the murder of Michael Brown. Their confidence came largely from watching news coverage of the protests that had been going in Ferguson since the killing. They saw the anger and the desire for justice and said there was no way they would not indict him.
I disagreed. My reasoning was as simple as it is truthful: this country does not give a damn about justice for black people. People can protest demanding justice, they can demand reforms, they can sign petitions, they can write eloquent op-eds and think pieces, and it will do nothing to change the minds of a frightening number of our fellow citizens. In fact, such actions serve only to harden many of their hearts.
I wanted to write something on Ferguson ever since the grand jury decision came down on Monday, but I kept myself from doing so because I was too angry and too disappointed and my thoughts were more disjointed than usual. Where would I even begin? There are so many infuriating, depressing aspects to this tragedy: the murder, Wilson not going to trial, the media’s stunning incompetence and obfuscation, the astonishing amount of vile and hatred unleashed online.
The disease that has plagued this country since its inception – racism – continues to fester, taking lives and rotting the host. And still many refuse to even acknowledge the disease, making it that much harder to come up with a cure. What the fuck are we supposed to do against such ignorance?