TBH: Michael Brown as a meme and the obstruction of truth.
Philip Snowden, in his introduction to Truth and the War, by E. D. Morel. London, July 1916, wrote “‘Truth,’ it has been said, ‘is the first casualty of war.’”
This analogy appeared to have been around since the dawn of recorded history. But with any conflict or controversy, there has always been 3 sides of the story. Sadly, in the age of soundbites, simple-minded sloganeering and 140-character quips, truth appears to be constantly on the receiving end of a smackdown.
Even before 9/11, if something terrible happened, the first reaction would be the pointing of fingers, the flinging of accusations and innuendoes that would eventually taint media coverage and cause the actors to make rash decisions to counter the trend.
The internet and social media have made matters worse, as people hit the search engines looking for answers in some of the darker corners of the web. While some sites offer reputable explanations, others exist to feed the fires of the wronged, the marginalized and the outcasts.
All that one has to do is simply go to various sites such as the Daily Kos, the Democratic Underground, the Huffington Post, Fox News, World News Daily and Free Republic to find the appropriate version of the truth with varying degrees of success. If this person possesses a certain political bent, chances are that the need for the correct can be easily satisfied with a mouse click or a tap on the touchscreen.
Over the past 7 days, the meme has been Michael Brown and Ferguson, MO police department. Long story short: white cop sees black kid; black kid now dead; black community rises up; Ferguson becomes Fallujah. The end.
Hopefully, saner heads will prevail, dialogues will happen and closure and healing can be achieved. But all these things cannot be achieved so easily if people simply depend on a Tweet or a Facebook “Like” to determine what is the truth.
While I cannot say who may be at fault in this incident (was Michael Brown threatening the officer; did the officer overreact), I did check some statistics on Ferguson (at least up until 2012-2013). And on top of that, I checked its crime rate. It’s no Chicago, and compared to neighbouring Kinloch, Ferguson is an island of tranquility.
This doesn’t mean that Ferguson is immune to gang activity, unemployment and discontent among the underclass: they exist in every big-city suburb in varying sizes. But the rapid escalation in violent protests may indicate that these factors, combined with longstanding issues between the black residents and the police are the prime contributors.
But it takes two to tango, and the local police hasn’t been doing a very good job explaining what happened either. It’s unsafe to assume that the enemy cannot exploit whatever means available to get a certain message or command across, and for some reason, the police delayed in providing detail of the incident to the public in a timely manner. Had they communicated sooner, there would still be protests but not at the level seen in the past few days.
Between the 2 parties, rhetoric has distorted the truth in such a way that most of the media reports have become nothing but manifestations of histrionics in varying degrees of ideological bent. There are still many questions to be answered, but it appears that the three most dangerous jobs in America at this time are young urban male, white male law enforcement officer, and the people looking for the truth between the former two.
All this, and both Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis are still relatively warm in the ground.