The Double Standard of Michael Brown

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, is an unfortunate case where a severe penalty was imposed that was not equivalent to the crime committed. Yet Brown was a suspect in a robbery; and Officer Wilson, the cop who pulled him over for questioning, later ended up in the hospital with reports of a broken eye socket, swelling on his head, and other unconfirmed injuries from a scuffle. Brown was a victim of circumstance, yet of circumstances he perhaps created. The events that occurred that day would not have happened had Michael Brown stayed home or gone with the officer without fighting.

This is not a story of a police officer hunting down a young adult due to the color of his skin. There should be no story here, at least no more than that of John Winkler, a white thirty-year-old man who was gunned down in Los Angeles accidentally while fleeing from a knife-wielding assailant. In that case police officers thought Winkler was the assailant, while in fact Winkler was applying pressure to another fleeing victim’s bleeding wound. No one was asking what race the police officers were in that situation, or if they shot Winkler due to his ethnicity, religion, hair color, or the shoes he was wearing.

The riots spawned in Ferguson would never have occurred had outside forces not jumped on the story. With the media adding anything possible to feed the frenzy to save their dwindling jobs and with propagandists such as Al Sharpton flocking to Ferguson like vultures after a battle, the situation clearly deteriorated. The double standard shown by Sharpton and others is ridiculous in this day and age. Instead of waiting for the story to unfold and for the facts to materialize, Sharpton jumped on the raw emotions and used them to his advantage as he repeatedly has in the past. What could have been an avenue to review the militarization of the police force spiraled out of hand and instead became an argument on race. How is society ever supposed to be move past race when it is always thrown back in everyone’s face by those quickest to call the members of society racists? When first reviewing this story, why is it that a white man killed a black man was seemingly the only fact that was conveyed? Yet when reviewing the first press releases from the Winkler case, race was not mentioned once.

The answer is complicated and is a combination of the media’s bias coupled with headlines that sell—and the need to mobilize part of the Democratic Party’s base ahead of the November midterm elections. The response to the protests—such as President Obama dispatching the most controversial of his cabinet members, Attorney General Eric Holder to Missouri—again shows the bias and controversy of the entire situation. Holder was quick to say: “The selective release of sensitive information that we have seen in this case so far is troubling to me,” referring to the released video of the robbery ostensibly signaling Brown as a suspect. The video conflicts with the beautified image, which has been falsely perpetuated in the media, of Brown as an innocent young man in the wrong place. Holder never mentions that the assigned medical examiner should not have spoken about the condition of Brown’s body before a full report and investigation were conducted.

The situation in Ferguson has worked well for the President, congesting the news feeds. Gone are the videos of ISIS beheading fleeing Christians, or of their militants torturing men and raping and killing women and children—all while systematically destroying eight years of work by the United States that provided a modicum of stabilization to the region, paid with the lives of 4,487 brave Americans. The only allies the United States has in the Middle East are still being bombarded with rockets daily, and the only mention they get in the news is that the Pentagon infuriated the White House by releasing missile orders to Israel that the White House had wanted to keep from them. The IRS scandal is another issue that has persisted for more than a year yet basically disappeared. The news has room for only one story, a story that is just what was needed for those who have instigated it, a story of racists, guns, and a deceased young adult—innocent or not. It is time to move away from the double standard; it is time to drop the race card.

The President has barely discussed the incident in Ferguson, yet as Jim Pasco, Director of the Fraternal Order of Police, said, “I would contend that discussing police tactics from Martha’s Vineyard is not helpful to ultimately calming the situation.” In other words, continue with your vacation, Mr. President. The country does not need you fueling the fire even more.