Here we are, in the first week of the last month of 2014, and by way of good cheer, I can say that things haven’t descended quite so far into the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse territory – pestilence, war, famine and death – as I had feared some two or three months ago, when Ebola was all the rage in news. People are still falling sick to it, of course, but curious that such news is no longer in the News, capital-N News, run by the professional news-gatherers, whose motto and mission does seem to be comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted. Funny old world, that.
Still, certain elements of the current scene do give cause for alarm. Not new alarm, but just the same old abiding fears which spurred me to begin writing books to persuade readers of the virtue of the grand American experiment and to refit the kitchen pantry closet to allow storage of mass quantities of staple foods. At the age of 60-something, I appear to be turning into my grandmothers, one of whom conserved a box of Ben Hur brand cayenne pepper over several decades until it was nothing more than some rusty-red dust, and the other of whom had a two-year supply of on-sale-purchased canned food stashed in the garage. I am trying to advance on my grandmothers’ example, though – since I have a vacuum-sealer and freezer. I do wish that I had somehow managed to get ahold of the ancestral can of cayenne pepper; it’s probably valuable now as an antique for the container, if not the rust-red pepper dust therein. Enough for pestilence and famine – what about those oldie-but-goodie standbys, War and Death?
They seem to have taken up residence, or at least, renewed the lease on a number of different places in recent weeks, most notably in Ferguson, Missouri – a somewhat … what’s the word? Struggling? In Transition? Pre-Gentrifying? Anyway, a relatively urban suburb of St. Louis. Which, to judge from the google-maps and the various businesses involved, is not entirely unlike my own very dear suburb as far as retail establishments go. Though it would appear that Ferguson is tilted a more towards the career-welfare-benefits-recipient person of color side of the scale as far as the general population goes, whereas San Antonio tends heavily towards the military retiree side of the scale.
In reading various reports of what is going on in Ferguson I am simultaneously troubled and reassured – troubled in that the mayor, governor and federal administration, at least as much as the established media – seemed to be going out of their various ways to pour more gas onto a bonfire. The various free-lance civil-rights ‘activists’ and sympathizers seem also to be doing their bit. Fortunately so far, their bit seems limited to terrorizing Christmas shoppers, alienating rush-hour drivers and pro football fans, reducing children’s Christmas-carol singing choruses to tears and otherwise alienating many of those who otherwise might rightfully entertain second thoughts about aggressive and militarized policing. The usual urban thug element have concentrated their energies on burning and looting various small businesses along Ferguson’s main drag, undeterred by any feelings of racial or community solidarity, in that a good few of them were owned and operated by persons of color living in Ferguson or nearby, and contributing to the assault and murder of incidental passersby who just happen to be of the wrong color skin…
Frankly, I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if those local businesses cut their losses and relocated elsewhere … but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see that many decided to hang in there. People tend to be stubborn about their home community, and to give up on it with reluctance and only when there is little choice left. I am reassured reading reports of go-fund-me campaigns to raise donations benefitting those businesses which have been harmed, like Natalie’s Cakes, and that local men banded together to protect a Conoco station, whose white owner had been a friend to and employed many of them. It is also reassuring to read that members of the St. Louis Tea Party are working on ways to effectively assist residents and business owners, and that volunteers from the Oath Keepers are volunteering to guard Ferguson businesses. At a guess many of the go-fund-me contributors, Tea Partiers and Oath Keepers willing to weigh in are decidedly white, which would or should argue against the cause for wide-spread white racism in America, if we had an intellectual or a news-reporting establishment with any brains, nerve, or sense of independent inquiry. We might be safe from race-war and racially-motivated death for a little while longer, not that the establishment intellectuals can take any credit for this.
It is curious that the agitation in the wake of Michael Brown’s death is even more frantically focused than that following after Trayvon Martin’s. There is no doubt that it is being deliberately fomented, and finding a ready audience in the community of the professionally offended, which slightly overlaps that of the black community. I have seen a couple of different reasons suggested for this – one of them being that an all-out balls-to-the-wall race war would be to the advantage of many, not least to this Administration – but the most compelling to me is that Barack H. Obama was presented to the black community as all that and a bag-o-chips, the light-bringer, the wonder-worker, the anointed one, the champion of the racially-oppressed, who would make everything better. Six years later, it’s clear that he has made things worse, and most especially for the black community which turned out for him, heart and soul and votes. All this agitation is a kind of massive psychological displacement: they can’t blame themselves for being fool enough to believe the promises of a sweet-talking charlatan telling them everything they wanted to hear, or blame him because he is (sort of) black and is The First Black President-Evah! The anger has to go someplace. And so it goes to Ferguson. Discuss.
(Cross-posted at www.ncobrief.com)