Quote of the Day:
It is impossible to give up on America at Thanksgiving, that unique and most wonderful holiday. Yet it is also difficult to gaze across our troubled land and conclude we are on the right path, or that we’d even know it if we stumbled on it.
—Michael Goodwin in the New York Post
Thanksgiving is indeed the quintessential American holiday—the celebration of a virtue in a republic born of an idea—and yet I don’t think I am being unduly sour when I say that this year our feasts are overhung with the sense that we are in a boatload of trouble. Scenes of discontent and anger are everywhere.
Indeed, I am hoping that this Michael Brown protest won’t prevent my New Jersey friend from having her son and his family present for Thanksgiving. President Obama got kudos for his urging of calm in the wake of the Ferguson Grand Jury verdict from pundits I like last night on Fox.
I am less sanguine about the president’s allegedly calming words. He was right to “understand” that everybody has a right to disagree with the Grand Jury’s decision and to protest that verdict, as long as they don’t burn houses, businesses, and cars. But the underlying theme of the president’s words was that he also “understands” that the United States is a raw deal for many and that that is what is really behind the protests.
When the president speaks of the broader problems in American society that are at the root of the Ferguson riots, he is peddling his usual class warfare—just more subtly. There is a sense in his words that the police need to be fairer—no problem there, we always want the police to be fair to all citizens. But there is no sense that the underlying problems raised by the Ferguson riots is something else entirely.
Michael Brown’s stepfather urging violence with cries of “burn this b—- down” is the face of that something else. We can sympathize with the grief of Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown’s mother, who wept upon hearing the Grand Jury’s decision. The loss of a child is a terrible, unnatural thing. Our hearts go out to her. But the hatred of Louis Head, the stepfather, who jumped up on a car to shout his unprintable viciousness, is something else.
President Obama should have stressed that some of the broader problems that need to be addressed in the nation don’t revolve around cops and unfairness, but rather are problems of social breakdown. Here’s a simple fact about the Ferguson rioters: if you have a job, you can’t be a full-time rioter. Unless of course you are Al Sharpton, and stoking anger is his job—and a very lucrative one at that.
Michael Goodwin captures what is truly disgusting and alarming about the Ferguson riots—and it is deeper that the ugliness of mere violence:
However you feel about the grand jury, it doesn’t offer even a fig leaf of rationale to justify looting and arson and gunfire. Nor does the decision justify the counsel of surrender coming from America’s leaders, starting with Obama on down to the Ferguson commanders.
Asking troublemakers not to make trouble doesn’t cut it. Even demanding that they stop won’t make them stop.
That’s what cops are for. They are the thin blue line between civilization and mob rule. The line collapsed in Ferguson because nobody had the courage to demand that it be held. Or maybe our so-called leaders really believe the B.S. that cops are the problem.
Long after the racial rabble-rousers and Molotov-cocktail throwers retreat into the darkness, the ordinary people of Ferguson will be left to clean up the mess, heal their scars and bury their dead. It is ever thus with the riot-and-run parasites.
It is said that famous people die twice. Once when they stop being famous, and once when their hearts stop beating.
So it is with civilizations. The failure to defend America’s culture and laws predicts the eventual collapse of society itself.
Emboldened by the destruction in Missouri, those who riot for fun and profit are hoping for similar results across the nation. The punk who ambushed NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton with fake blood represents a hero to the anti-hero crowd.
We are reminded against this backdrop for Thanksgiving 2014 that for many Americans grievance has replaced gratitude this season.