Let’s get something straight: Not all race agitators are black. The people agitating for higher minimum wages are not all black. The people agitating for comprehensive immigration reform and marijuana reform, a war against the Islamic State and against education reform are not all black. The people agitating for justice reform are not all black.
Awhile back I said that something wicked this way comes from Ferguson, Missouri, and it has arrived.
The Ferguson “troublemakers” have already made a name for themselves. We’ve seen the photos and videos, and we’ve heard and read the nonstop for-and-against commentaries.
Too many of them call it a black thing, though our eyes and ears prove it is not.
It is an American thing, and we’d be better off if President Obama said so.
One of the chief reasons there is “simmering distrust” of police in some communities, as Mr. Obama said Monday, is because there was a time in America when the police forces were bigoted and racist against blacks, Jews, Catholics and others who were not white and Protestant. Indeed, in the South members of the KKK served on the police force and killed blacks and burned temple and mosques in the name of Jesus.
That history is retold online, in schools, in houses worship and in the media.
The “troublemakers” of today keep trying to resurrect Jim Crow and ignore the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. Hell, some of them want to hold a resurrection of Jim Crow on the upcoming anniversary of King’s birthday.
Some people have been hankering to do that since Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Now come more intriguing plans for the nation’s capital, where street-walking activists are putting their feet where others’ mouths are.
In a dear “Comrades” email, #DCFerguson announced plans to rally at beginning of evening rush-hour in front of the Justice Department, and on Tuesday to gather at the popular Busboys and Poets foodie spot on the edge of downtown.
Next Monday evening they plan to hold a rally on Florida Avenue NW in Center City D.C., near where protests, parades and other historic events gained steam in years past. There also is a call for civil disobedience on the birthday anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther Jr. “Comrades” were urged to “Stay tune for details.”
Now, I have a problem with that.
People being addressed as “Comrades” and being urged to be civil disobedient, being urged to break the law — on King’s birthday?
Organizers and participants have already been breaking the law — marching through the streets, blocking interstates and major corridors, and tying traffic in knots.
Sure, it’s the far side of looting, and destroying others’ property. But be cautious.Advertising that you plan to break the law on Jan. 15, King’s actual date of birth, isn’t wise. There are people who never wanted to honor King at all, and it gives the opposition an opportunity of a lifetime. The opposition has been calling Ferguson protesters and the people who encourage them names all along. (My Copy Desk chief tells me they are too offensive to use, while longtime readers of The Washington Times are smart enough to read the unwritten words between the lines.)
The protesters, demonstrators and organizers should be careful for one obvious reason: They need police protection.
They need police to protect them while they make the 120-mile trek from Ferguson to the home of Missouri’s governor, and they need police to protect them while they disparage police tactics in protests and rallies across the nation.
They need police to protect them wherever their soap boxes lead, because police are sworn to serve, protect and defend.
They need to know that police do not like mobs.
So you professional “troublemakers” out there, you professional activists who won’t let sleeping dogs lie, should seek another hobby.
Take up bowling, go duck hunting, teach a kid how to lace up and tie her shoes, or read the Bible.
The Ferguson issue is not a race issue. There have been blacks and whites hand-in-hand since former officer Wilson mortally wounded Michael Brown. The races were even united over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, as protesters pushed back against the no-indictment decision in the Wilson case in Ferguson hit the streets of D.C. Thank God there were no mobs, because in this city, D.C. and federal police don’t like mobs and know how to handle them (and we’ve had court cases to prove it).
Some news stories on Ferguson spin on the justice angle and the police-tactics angle, but far too many are all about the angled aspects of race.
It’s like never again mouthing “Palestine,” as if it never existed or the Bible doesn’t say “sorrow shall take hold of the inhabitants of Palestina.”
And Mr. Obama talks about the mistrust of police and other law enforcers as if Ferguson is the defining case. Well, the “race” issue is not going to be resolved because people are demonstrating across the nation.
Or because Mr. Obama holds a string of mini-summits.
Or because white folks complain.
Or because a grand jury did not indict Mr. Wilson, or because he resigned from the police force, or because he did not get a severance package.
The “race” issue won’t even be resolved when nearsighted pundits and hard-of-hearing law enforcers grasp the error of their ways and put their hands up as if to surrender.
Race, ethnic and spiritual differences are good. They are reflective of the way things are supposed to be.
But good character is better.
That is one of the most important points we should take from one of the most oft-cited speeches of the 20th century.
“I have a dream,” King said, “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
• Deborah Simmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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