Scapegoating vs. Progress

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Larry Elder notes a self-defeating trend that has become manifest in the wake of the Ferguson, Missouri, police shooting:

Many simply have chosen to believe that teenager Michael Brown was "executed" or "shot several times in the back" -- the evidence can wait. Witnesses who definitively assert that officer Wilson "shot him in the back" have been contradicted by the Brown family's own medical expert, respected pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, who conceded the wounds could be consistent with Brown charging toward Wilson, not running away. [bold added]
While I have not been following this story -- or any other -- very closely, it has been nearly unavoidable since it is local news for me. Some of the belief in the "shot in the back" narrative must surely be blamed on media coverage: This is the first time I have heard about this medical evidence despite an apparently non-stop torrent of such coverage.

Most people would call such claims -- when made contrary to evidence or (worse) the need for evidence -- "self-serving". That is clearly not the case, particularly for blacks:
The No. 1 cause of preventable death for young black men is homicide. For whites, it's unintentional injuries, such as car accidents. And if a high percentage of the kids in a neighborhood are without dads, and if those children are 20 times more likely to end up in jail, isn't this a far bigger problem than the rare instance in which an unarmed black person -- unjustifiably or not -- is killed by a cop?
As Elder implies, the incessant pursuit of what he calls "The Great White Defendant" is hindering any real examination of the actual difficulties poor blacks face in places like Ferguson, and, therefore, any progress towards a solution.

Even assuming the worst of the police officer who shot Michael Brown, it is folly to spend energy on this one case at the clear expense of failing to attack so many other real and bigger problems.

-- CAV

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