Monday, December 1, 2014

Why the Ferguson Protests Are Going To Die

In Ferguson, the unrest continues. And the flames are still being fanned. Al Sharpton continues to call for justice, saying the prosecutor may have won the first round, but “don’t take your gloves off.”
Yet amidst all of shouting, burning, marching, demands for justice and the up cropping, suddenly, of many different groups, with all sorts of names like “Voices for Justice” the protests are still dying. The reasons of course, include the usual reasons protests die. People get bored. People have jobs and lives. But as the protests continue to splinter and become further and further from what the original issues were, there is another reason that the Ferguson Protests, and the other protests around the country coming out of them, are not going to survive: They are too small.
The fact that thousands of people are in on the protests doesn’t matter. What does is the message. And it is that the black are fighting the whites again. Whatever may have been the original story, it is now being portrayed as a larger debate about black v. white. It shouldn’t be. It should be good vs. bad. And the whole country would be running to join them. (Not the violent ones, the mentally sane ones.)
Americans hate injustice. We have fought wars over it. And Americans would be more than happy to fight this war too. Nobody likes it when people get shot unjustly by police officers, or anybody else for that matter. No matter what the color of the victim. But the moment you say that this is a “black issue” you just lost the majority of the nation. Not only the whites, but also the Asians and Latinos.
But it is not a black issue. It is an American issue. Whatever the truth about Mike Brown, there are problems with the system, as in every system, and this could have started a larger debate that could have begun to fix some of them. But instead these protests are going to fizzle out and die, and another excellent chance to reform and renew will be lost.
In America, on the streets, from New York to California, in many places, the cities are already quiet again. It flamed up and died down and is now nearly over. There may be some that hang on for weeks, maybe even months now, but the majority of it, at least for right now, is all over.
A great chance to fix things was just wasted. The main lesson of the Mike Brown Debate was this: black vs. white is never going to hack it. Good vs. bad will. Because good doesn’t have a color. Everyone will sign up to be on the good side.

Andrew C. Abbott

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