Since I am going to be talking quite a bit about election stuff in the next year or so (provided I’m able to devote as much time to writing as I want to devote), I thought I’d put together some thoughts that came to me after seeing a link on Facebook. Also, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Facebook (and Twitter by extension) for providing me with a vast majority of the anger that has fueled my posts here on the blog. Thanks for being full of ignorant people, social media! I don’t know what I’d do without you.
Now then, on to the article. First of all, something about a site being called “Weasel Zippers” makes it very hard for me to take it seriously. Despite that, I think this article is a good example of what the real problem is in Baltimore and so many other cities like it. No, I’m not talking about extremists who are basically entirely anti-white or anti-black. I’m talking about the amount of attention that this one man is getting. This one person, who decided he wanted to say something controversial and extreme, is getting more media attention on his own than every peaceful protester and reasonable civil rights leader combined. So even though thousands in Baltimore have led peaceful marches without riots, held rallies and events within the faith communities, and even had calm, rational discussions with police and government officials, this one guy who grabbed a megaphone and started milking his fifteen minutes of fame is going to be the poster person for his extreme counterparts (namely racists on the other end of the spectrum).
Here’s my problem with Lawrence Brown: when someone like Rush Limbaugh talks about Baltimore, he’ll point to this Emmy-award winner and use him as a label for the entire movement within Baltimore that is trying to address the issues of police brutality, militarization, and racism. I can already hear the soundbite: “The Black Panthers and other black extremist groups are leading this movement to overthrow the white aristocracy and put Caucasians in Obama-established FEMA camps.” Suddenly, because one person said something extreme, there’s no longer a need to had a real conversation about the civilians and police officers being killed daily in cities like Baltimore.
THIS is the problem. It’s not black Americans or white Americans or Al Sharpton or the “N” word. When media drives the story, the most extreme viewpoints become the norm in the eyes of those watching. This is why we’ve had dozens of incidents like this in the past few years. Ferguson. New York. Cleveland. Florida after George Zimmerman was acquitted. Baltimore. The list goes on and on. And every time something like this happens, everyone gets very upset and tries to present their side of the story. But if none of the reasonable perspectives are given media attention, nothing happens. It’s a long, drawn-out fight over who can say the most ignorant, stereotypical thing before everyone just sees the whole situation as a lost cause and moves on.
If we don’t change the narrative, it won’t change. Look past the media (both liberal and conservative). Think of how stupid this is all going to seem in 50 years, when we tell our grandchildren that the only reason it took so long to fix a clearly broken system was because we believed the news gave us an accurate representation of the attitudes and emotions of those involved. Let’s not be those people.
To wrap this up, I’d like to pass it to the president himself, who had a lengthy response to a question about Baltimore. These are his raw comments, and they echo what I’m saying here. I’m not his biggest fan, but I have to give President Obama his due for this speech. He gave a rational, calm reality check to most Americans who are so enthralled about this issue (on both sides of the aisle). I encourage you to listen to his remarks. I’ll admit it’s a long video, but I feel that those fifteen minutes were the realest fifteen minutes of his entire presidency. Hats off to you, Mr. President.