Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ferguson's Misdirected Fury

As white as I am, I believe my disability gives me a small glimpse of the fear and frustration that many young black men experience daily in this country. If you'll read my November 29, 2011 post, My Criminal Record, you'll see that I underwent the indignity of a police officer questioning me simply because someone felt "concerned" by my unattended presence on the street.

In that respect, I have some empathy with the African-Americans who protest the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson, MO. Do I fully understand their suffering? I don't know. I refuse to claim that I do, even though living with Cerebral Palsy frequently subjects me to a variety of indignities. I've realized, for instance, that my drooling, slurred speech and poor posture will always convince people that I have intellectual disabilities. That reality helps me sympathize with blacks who battle false assumptions society makes about them.

Michael Brown's supporters regard him as a young black man who died because an overzealous white police officer racially profiled him. These supporters want vengeance, just as I wanted  vengeance when that police officer detained me in 2011. After 300 years of suffering the cruelties of slavery, the horrors of Jim Crow laws, and now the indignities of racial profiling, black Americans have had enough! As they  see it, Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown maliciously...and because of Brown's race. To them, Brown represents centuries of white oppression. And they feel anger.

My anger toward the officer who detained me helps me, in a very small way, comprehend the outrage black Americans feel.

Having said all that, I have some objections to the reactions to the Grand Jury's decision. I may, by expressing them, gain the reputation of a racist, and I realize that some of my readers will judge me as such. Given my struggles as a disabled person, they may assume that I should side against Wilson.

But let me make a few points. If you disagree with me, please at least consider my perspective before you write me off as a bigot.

Michael Brown and his friend not only matched the description of two men who had just robbed a convenience store, but he possessed cigars like the cigars that had been stolen. Wilson had heard the dispatch regarding the robbery, and saw reason to interrogate. He didn't profile the  men; he made a reasoned response to a crime report. Therefore, people should not hold Brown up as merely a victim of racial profiling. (In fact, the store's security camera confirmed that Brown stole the cigars.)

Additionally, Brown responded to Wilson's questioning by aggressively beating Wilson. I know, first hand, the anger a person feels when confronted by police, but giving in to that anger by physically attacking an officer doesn't exactly exonerate someone. Wilson said he feared for his life. Perhaps he  fired more shots than necessary. I don't  know. What would I do if someone physically assaulted me? What would you do?
 Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; ~~Luke 6:37 (ESV)
Let's be careful not to condemn a man for 1) doing his job and 2) acting in self-defense when he felt threatened.

Finally, the violent protests against the decision both target innocent people and perpetuate stereotypes of lawless black mobs. The violence can only worsen racial tensions. I've heard of people making death threats on Wilson and his family. Such vindictiveness betrays how far Americans have departed from trusting God to exercise His perfect vengeance.
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ~~Romans 12:16-21 (ESV)
I do, in small part, understand some of the frustration black Americans feel because of the ways people respond to my disability. Yet I believe the furor over the Ferguson Grand Jury decision ignores Michael Brown's illegal activity and assumes an attitude of vigilante "justice."  I grieve that Americans can't (or won't) deal with this situation in ways that honor Christ.

2 comments:

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post! I'd love feedback, as long as you attach a name. Disagreement is fine, as long as it is presented respectfully. Please keep comments confined to a maximum of four short paragraphs. Sorry for making to do the Word Verification, but I've been getting too much spam.

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