Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Who Framed Ferguson, Missouri?
Much has been made of the poverty in Ferguson as the mitigating factor in the violence, linking the suburban city's violence to its failed economy, and in turn Obama economic policies. While Ferguson is below the state and national average in per capita income, it is not as bad as Carbondale, Illinois, which is a predominantly white community also in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. Unemployment rate is not the only figure one should consider, Lou Dobbs, as 48 per cent of Carbondale residents live below the poverty line, whereas only 22 per cent of Ferguson residents do.
It just shows how you can pick and choose statistics to suit your argument. For Fox pundits, it is convenient to look at the Ferguson protesters as a lazy, jobless lot, more interested in looting than in expressing their First Amendment rights. During the most recent protests, this is what Fox News has predominantly focused on, essentially shaming Ferguson residents. It allows Fox to avoid the questions that concern Darren Wilson's testimony, and continue to treat Michael Brown as a "thug," and product of a dysfunctional society.
As protests spread, and were reflected in NFL Sunday, Fox news pundits went into overdrive trying to diminish the impact of the public outcry. Even Sir Charles Barkley, one of the most eminent sports broadcasters, came out in support of the grand jury decision and said that it was time for Ferguson residents to move on. He also admonished the looters as scumbags.
Since then, other prominent Black figures have similarly chastised Ferguson for its protests. Notably, Dr. Ben Carson, who blames the unrest on Feminists, saying the lack of "father figures" is partially to blame for this incident. It doesn't seem to matter that Michael Brown has a father, actually two fathers, who have been at the forefront of the protests along with his mother. Here are his parents on Charlie Rose.
Michael Brown doesn't exactly fit the image of a thug or his parents that of a dysfunctional family. From most indications, he had a supportive family and was scheduled to attend technical college this fall before being gunned down. There is that nasty bit of video tape, which shows him strong arming a shop clerk over a box of cigarillos, which has become the single defining moment of his "character" in the conservative press, and also Darren Wilson's testimony.
Not only has Michael Brown been racially stereotyped, or profiled if you will, but so too has Ferguson. In the conservative mind, the suburban St. Louis community is emblematic of all that is wrong in the nation, especially in regard to "Obamanomics," and the perceived lack of respect for law and order among youth, particularly Black youth. It has even led to photoshopped memes that have been widely distributed through the social network.
Once again we see a narrative being set that contradicts the reality on the street. It is amazing in this age of high speed Internet that news networks like Fox, and to a somewhat lesser degree CNN, can get away with setting the narrative to suit their viewing audience. You would think viewers would be circumspect, given the number of times these news channels have been "punked," but apparently not.