I believe that people, police and civilians alike, possess a natural right to defend themselves and others with lethal force when legitimately warranted. I also recognize that police officers are as human as the rest of us and thus not inherently above reproach. I believe that the increasing militarization of American police – though not directly related to this particular shooting but instead the events following it – is incredibly troubling to public safety and individual liberty. I believe masses of people possess a legitimate right to assemble and protest their government, its policies, its leadership, etc. provided they do peaceful and without disturbance of their neighbors’ rights. And sadly, I believe that we will likely never learn what truly happened that Saturday in Ferguson, Missouri and consequently true justice – be it for the victim’s friends and family or for the embattled officer, or both – will likely never be realized in this case.
Referencing the subsequent protests and community outrage associated with this incident, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar touched lightly upon the topic of social faction as a root contributor (if not outright cause) of such incidences and their associated civil unrest, and the inherent interest that the ruling class has in maintaining such infighting (a topic I similarly discussed some time ago):
The U.S. Census Report finds that 50 million Americans are poor. Fifty million voters is a powerful block if they ever organized in an effort to pursue their common economic goals. So, it’s crucial that those in the wealthiest One Percent keep the poor fractured by distracting them with emotional issues like immigration, abortion and gun control so they never stop to wonder how they got so screwed over for so long.
He posits that the shooting and others like it have very little if anything at all to do with race, per se (or at least solely), and everything to do with economic disparity – specifically the plights associated with and prejudice generally aimed at the poor.
This fist-shaking of everyone’s racial agenda distracts America from the larger issue that the targets of police overreaction are based less on skin color and more on an even worse Ebola-level affliction: being poor. Of course, to many in America, being a person of color is synonymous with being poor, and being poor is synonymous with being a criminal. Ironically, this misperception is true even among the poor.
And that’s how the status quo wants it.
By this view, it is somewhat contextually circumstantial that poverty in American is relatively and disproportionately correlated with black America, and so issues that may on their surface appear to be race-related are in fact class-related at their substantive foundation. While he digresses somewhat throughout the piece by focusing on contextual red herrings such as the media and the ever present (but somehow never named or otherwise specifically identified) exploitative entrepreneur, I think his basic assertion is that the impoverished are targeted by the nebulous “One Percent” for mass unrest and infighting as a means of keeping them that way.
Perhaps he is right; perhaps not. Perhaps the untimely death of Michael Brown has nothing directly to do with either race or class and everything to do with poor judgment and/or unmitigable circumstances (or something else altogether). In any event, there can be no credible denial that power brokers – he suggests the uber-wealthy; I suggest a broader oligarchy that includes Big Government stakeholders of various shapes and sizes – thrive on “squabbling” amongst the masses to shore up, maintain, and grow their own power pursuits. This is just one form of a tried and true, time-honored methodology of the power elite: mass distraction (think the Ludi Romani, immense public works projects, inquisitions and witch hunts, and the Red Scare, just to name a few).
While he does not propose any detailed practical solutions, it would be interesting to learn whether Abdul-Jabbar espouses more government (i.e., oligarchical) involvement to correct very real problems that it creates (or at least exacerbates) in the first place (e.g., via the Federal Reserve System and currency manipulation), or whether he espouses the greatest regulator of wealth possible – sound money and truly free markets. Given that the he labels the “real foes,” among others, as “do-nothing politicians [and] legislators” and suggests “passing legislation that promotes economic equality and opportunity,” I can only assume he ignorantly favors combating the “status quo” by further empowering and further reliance upon the status quo.
The truth that apparently escapes Abdul-Jabbar is that only free markets levy real consequences for poor and/or unethical decisions (i.e., no bailouts or otherwise socialized losses) to “punish those who gamble with [and lose] our financial future.” He is suspiciously quite about retirement and other wealth that is realized and strengthened by such successful “gambles,” or the fact that do-something politicians historically make up the real One Percent that rend far more devastating effects on individuals’ financial prosperity. Only sound money prohibits the oligarchy from indulging in the greatest and most surreptitious wealth transfers from poor to rich known to man (i.e., inflationary monetary actions and policies). Only their combination serves to foster meritorious opportunity, reward real individual achievement, and buttress personal responsibility.
There is a reason that the real One Percent consistently lobbies for and seeks to implement policies that are fundamentally antithetical to free markets and it is not because the free market inherently makes the One Percent wealthier, more powerful, or more influential. Common sense dictates that the opposite is true – that a free market is threatening to the real status quo.
(UPDATE: 20 August 2014) Further exploration of the potential relationship between urban economic conditions and policing.