|14A034 Theater in Missouri by Jim Davies, 8/18/2014
The script was written a while ago, by creative Democrats probably not a thousand miles from the office of Gwen Ifil, and it was very well done.
The play's location was left open until earlier this month, as were the identities of the two principal actors. The producers just waited for the right circumstance to arise; a mostly-black community, policed by a mostly-white force, in which a cop killed an unarmed black kid. There was plenty of choice, all round the country, and as it happens Ferguson, MO fit the bill perfectly when Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown dead. That was Act One, performed by people who had no idea they were following a script. Brown, of course, never will have.
Act Two then opened. AgitProp experts and media crew descended on the town and the very reasonably outraged black community was led to parade and loot and protest, with the creative and well-justified gesture and slogan "Hands Up, Don't Shoot." That may well become a phrase often repeated elsewhere. More (white) police brutality followed, with the use of some of the heavy military weapons the Feds are handing out free, having no further use for them in their foreign wars. So far.
Reporters brought Act Two to the nation's viewers with enthusiasm, painting it as clear evidence of residual racism in America (which is mostly nonsense) as well as evidence of police savagery (which is perfectly true.) By doing the latter, they cleverly attracted support from libertarians, who have of course been decrying police brutality for years, and arranged for TIME Magazine to provide space to Rand Paul, the Lib-lite son of Ron.
Act Three was heralded even by Rush Limbaugh (so as to corral some support from Conservatives) and consisted of a takeover of policing in Ferguson by State Highway Patrol officers, of whom one was Captain Ron Johnson, who are predominantly black, and who played good-cops to the Ferguson bad-cops by joining the protests and hugging the protesters and so calming everyone down. Again, brilliant scripting. The main benefit was that MO highways were freed for a while from the menace of some of their radar traps. Message to the nation: blacks are good guys, whites are bullies. Well played, Gwen. It was only marginally spoiled by the news that Brown had been filmed stealing a packet of cigars from a convenience store. (Cigars? Why? - had his girlfriend just told him he was to become a father?)
Act Four was played out on the News Hour on Friday, August 15th, when host Hari Sreenivasan and WaPo reporter Ruth Marcus breathlessly announced that the incident had brought together "Libertarians and Liberals." True libertarians and true liberals have, of course, never been apart in deploring police savagery and other violations of civil rights; I recall a fabulous presentation to the LP of New Hampshire in the 1990s, applauded by a standing ovation, by Nadine Strossen, then chief of the ACLU. But on this Edition of the News Hour, I heard "libertarian" spoken more times than in all others I've watched this year, taken together.
Why so? - to identify Rand Paul as a libertarian and so separate him from mainstream Republicans, so as to damage his (very good) chances of being their nominee in 2016; and hence, of giving whoever runs for the Democrats a clearer shot. A play that surely deserves a Tony.
The fun bit is that Act Five appears at this writing to be developing off-script. When news of the cigar theft broke, black Fergusonians felt the local white cops were attempting to blame the victim. More riots and looting - but no more shots yet, for Johnson held his highway patrollers back. So they Didn't Shoot, but the looters' Hands were not Up; rather, they were stretched out, to grab the property of those who were least involved in the mess. Johnson said "Yes, we lost some alcohol [and other merchandise] but we didn't lose a life. Shelves can be replenished; lives can not."
Very true. But if you believe MOHP members (presumably, his "we") will take up a collection to compensate the store owners for their loss, talk to me about the land I'm selling in Florida. In any case, the Highwaymen were supplanted in the early hours of 8/18 by the National Guard, called out by Gov. Nixon - Democrat though he is. No doubt to the dismay of the playwrights, the actors in this drama have taken over the stage. Only they know which Fergusonians will end up the good guys and which, the bullies.
No deadly play-acting will feature in the coming zero government society, for there will be no elections to contest and no police to terrorize and murder. Violation of rights, such as the theft of cigars, will be handled efficiently by a for-profit justice industry, and anyone who kills an unarmed youth of any race will, through the same industry if necessary, be fully answerable to his family. Meantime while we wait and introduce friends to TOLFA, it's just possible that this theater production may bring the incidental benefit of taking back those heavy-weapon toys from PDs nationwide. Where they will go is anyone's guess, but it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.