The recent conflict in Ferguson, MO, besides being a travesty in itself, bodes as a terrifying foreshadowing of American division. For those of you who are unaware of what is occurring, I leave it to you to find a trustworthy news source with which to research this event.
The violence in Ferguson, MO, sparked by the death of a young black man by a white police officer, has led to conflict between armed protestors1 and a heavily militarized police force. This situation displays the underpinnings of a fault line right here in America. Fault line wars, as defined from a Geopolitical perspective, are “between clans, tribes, ethnic groups, religious communities, and nations…rooted in the identities of people…they also tend to be vicious and bloody, since fundamental issues of identity are at stake…decisive military victory by one side in an identity civil war…increases the likelihood of genocide. (Emphasis added.)”2
While Huntington’s definition is written specifically addressing wars, his definition also applies to the current situation because the Ferguson situation does in fact comes from perceived ethnic differences. America, especially under current leadership, has become increasingly polarized between the “haves” and “have nots”; the so-termed majority versus all minorities. In fact, the socialist/communist ideal must promulgate class warfare; simply consider Marx’s proletariat vs. bourgeoisie class distinction.
Due to current rhetoric by political leaders playing upon America’s history and economic disparity, the classes have been implicitly drawn distinctly into the white “oppressors” and the “other” minorities— be it Latino or African American — regardless of the true socio-economic situation of individuals. In a distortion of truth, it is disseminated that those that are better off are better off only because they trampled upon the backs of the poor, the minorities, to get there. Further, political leaders allow and promote the blurring of economic status with that of skin color. This is generally done implicitly, but is none-the-less effective. This rhetoric forms the foundation of class hatred and the blurring of socio-economic status with that of cultural identity, i.e. race/ethnicity and “otherness”. “Rich” is equated with “oppressor” and, specifically appealing to American history, after only a short time “oppressor” is equated with “white,” especially “white males.”
The blurring of the lines is, most importantly, a blurring of human dignity and denial of our universal brotherhood; we all equally deserve to be treated with dignity while our particular race is a nonessential aspect of our human nature. As this class division is increasingly pushed, no longer is a person seen as an individual who can do what is right or what is wrong, but as a member of a particular class and guilty of the evils projected upon that stereotype. In a highly repeated rationalization, the created “class” loses its right to human dignity and even loses consideration of its humanness. Once this rationalization is complete, killing such a person is not murder and is, in fact, a “good” thing to do. To kill a classified person, even an innocent infant, becomes a glorified and heroic feat in the mission to rid the world of that class. For an example of one of the many global examples, consider the Rwandan genocide where the Tutsis were slaughtered at the hands of the Hutus in the 1990’s.
Some might view the this as far-fetched, that America would walk the path of civil war and genocide. However, it is important to note that economic woes are often the catalyst that sparks war and genocide; consider, for example, the Third Reich’s rise and the impact that that had on the world, not to mention the Jewish community.
Class distinction based upon socio-economic factors, can blur into a ethnically motivated war quickly given the right catalyst. Imagine, for example, if it starts simply with the death of a black man at the hands of a white police officer. Riots and looting ensue as local authorities are blamed for preventing “justice” merely because they investigate the shooting prior to convicting. Militarized police forces are called up to “gain” control as the rioters arm themselves. Everywhere in the nation watches as the two groups clash. At first, causalities are minimal primarily due to the non lethal means employed by the police. Then, in one incursion, the protestors up the ante and trap a squad of police. One police officer falls dead, shot in the head. His brothers, fearing for their lives and shocked by the bloodied corpse they once knew as Joe, drop the rubber bullets for live rounds. Chaos ensues and when the dust clears, a handful of police and forty or fifty protestors, including innocent bystanders, lie dead. Regardless of the color of anyone’s skin, the event is charged as racially motivated “murder” of blacks by white police officers. This terrible tragedy fuels not only a greater division but also a larger tragedy as bloodshed pops up around the nation. Violence occurs not only between police and protestors, but to women, children, and elderly merely because of the color of their skin; of the fact that they are white and therefore are “oppressors,” i.e. no longer human.
Unfortunately, this current situation poses such a threat and does demonstrate an ethnically based fault line here in America. The Ferguson conflict is not about if a white police officer unjustly killed a black man, but that a white person killed a black person. Though protestors shout for justice, the issue has not been about justice at all. Our political leaders should be stepping up and calling our nation to seek justice — not justice for a black man, but justice for all men — yet they are not. Our President, due to gravity and importance of his leadership position, should be calling for the violence to be replaced by true justice because justice is not, cannot, be achieved through anarchistic means. Arguably, anarchy is in fact the antithesis of justice; the medium through which justice’s violent death comes. Anything less than a clear call for true justice by our President is complicit consent and the promotion of one-sided justice.
Protestors, rationalizing violence against their “oppressors” though the mantra of “Justice!” have forgotten great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., a man who aggressively fought racism and class distinction through right and moral actions. He demanded justice not through the force of arms, but appeal to the objective truth that “all men are created equal.” His words “I Have a Dream” are often shouted from the very lips of those who stir up racial tensions; who sell the lie that “you have been put down by the majority, by the oppressors, whites”; who have polarized our country over economic issues and promote the distinction of our skin. These leaders, along with all of us, would be wise to remember some of the words that follow MLK’s famous phrase. “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character. (Emphasis added.)”3
Just, nonviolent protesting can be an extremely powerful statement; MLK knew first hand of its effectiveness. We should all be adamantly for justice, but it is important that we, the protestors, and America’s leaders understand what fighting for justice means. When justice is sought as a means to an end for only one group, then this is not justice at all, but a tyrannical abuse of the judicial system. However, when justice is sought for all men — regardless of their class, race, socio-economic standing —that is when true justice triumphs and the integrity of all is protected. If we slip into the rationalization of us vs. them and fail to fight for the rights of all, then, at the very least, we forsake the principles upon which our nation was founded and sound the death knell for justice.
There should be but one side that we all stand upon, the side of true justice. Justice who is rightly immortalized as being blindfolded, free of bias; who is for all mankind. Not justice for a black man over a white man, but justice that transcends mere skin color; a justice that truly judges character. This is what America could be and should be. I hope that she lives up to her own magnificent expectations. 1 “Seven arrested, 1 shot as police use tear gas on protestors defying Ferguson curfew.” August 17, 2014. Retrieved from Fox News.
2 Huntington, Samuel P. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. 2011. NY:Simon & Schuster. 3 King, Martin Luther “I Have a Dream…” 1963.