I have to admit, I don’t know what happened in Ferguson, Mo., between Michael Brown and police officer Darren Wilson. Then again, neither did any of the columnists who helped fan the flames of racial tensions immediately after Brown’s death.
Much of the early media spin — not to mention that of professional race hustlers like Al Sharpton — that helped spark daily unrest was that Brown was innocently walking down the street, minding his own business, going to Grandma’s house — just like Little Red Riding Hood — when the Big Bad Cop Wolf shot him dead for no reason other than he was black.
For example, New Yorker columnist Amy Davidson wrote that Brown “was described as gentle, committed to sports and to his friends, working hard to make up classes when he fell behind, and excited about starting college.” He was also described as a “child” — despite being an 18-year-old adult who stood at 6-foot-2 and reportedly weighed in at some 290 pounds.
Only later — well after the riots, violence and looting began — did we learn that Brown was “no angel” and may have had a juvenile arrest record. Only later, as the New York Times reported, did we learn that Brown “was caught on a security camera stealing a box of cigars, pushing the clerk of a convenience store into a display case.”
Initial reports also claimed, with metaphysical certitude, that an “unarmed” Brown had his hands above his head and was backing away when he was shot. Only later — well after the riots, violence and looting began — did we learn that Brown might have assaulted the officer in an altercation.
Again, we don’t yet know what really happened. But that didn’t stop people from irresponsibly jumping to conclusions and painting Brown as a saint and lionizing him as a martyr who was the victim of an “execution style murder” at the hands of a rogue, racist cop.
That Brown robbed that convenience store just prior to his altercation with Wilson may have had nothing whatsoever to do with how the incident played out. Then again, it might have. No one knows for sure. And we should stop pretending we do until all of the facts come out.
That said, I’m sorry but I just have a hard time buying the story that a “gentle” black “child” was just innocently walking down the street when a white police officer randomly decided to gun him down in broad daylight for no reason whatsoever.
But let’s say it’s true. I still don’t understand how the appropriate response is to break out the windows of a local retail store and steal a flat-screen color HDTV. Would someone please explain that one to me?
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grass roots advocacy organization. He can be reached at www.muthstruths.com.