REFLECTIONS ON FERGUSON
December 2, 2014
My life is now going on into its eighth decade. Having been born during the tail end of the depression (1939), I have no memory of the start of WW 2 hostilities. I do have deep impressions of the later years of the war. As such, I have experienced numerous events in my life. My earlyimpressions are of our nation and people as strong, victorious, and proud. After all, the United States was instrumental in bringing the Nazi regime to its knees, as well as Imperial Japan. The world was a better place because of America. The events of the Korean Conflict that followed (1950-1953) were hard on my psychic. Based on my altruistic world view (when riding my bike about the neighborhood was what I did most), a nation with the strength and resolve to have brought WW 2 to a successful close could certainly defeat a bunch of rag-tag commies dressed in quilted pajamas. It was at that time that my inner being became that of a crushed idealist, in other words, a cynic. For the sake of a refresher on the Korean War era, I recommend the movie Pork Chop Hill starring Gregory Peck.
An incredibly important day in my formative life was October 4, 1957, the day that the Soviets placed a basketball-sized sphere transmitting a beeping signal into Earth orbit called Sputnik. That event launched the Post-Sputnik era, which lasted twelve years, accompanied by a race to beat the Russians into space. Duringthose twelve years (1957-1969)my studies culminated in my receiving a Ph.D. from Purdue University (1969). My specialization centered on the mathematics of guidance and control. Said another way, I had become a full-fledged rocket scientist. In this epistle I could list numerous significant events in the life of our country, but for the sake of brevity I need to skip a little and fast forward to 2014.
Based on my world view, the decline that is presently going on in America is nothing short of appalling. In the past, as seen through my eyes, the enemy was external to our nation, and easily identified. They either spoke foreign languages, or wore uniforms of an opposing nation, or were dressed oddly shouting out “Allah be praised, death to the infidels.”
Yes, in the past we have experienced domestic civil unrest within our nation, one notable being the Bonus Army (WW I jobless veterans) March on Washington D.C., circa 1932-1933. That led to active military firing on the assembled WW I veterans, and killing several.
Another notable period of unrest surrounded the Vietnam War era protests, with a dark day in American history being the shooting of civilian demonstrators at Kent State University (in Ohio) on May 4, 1970.
Yet another period of unrest centered on civil rights actions in the south, mostly in the 1950’s, 1960’s and into the early 1970’s. Moreover, the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK Jr of the 1960’s are not to be forgotten. A more recent event of unrest in our country took place on the infamous 9/11 in 2001.
My point is that we as a people and we as a nation have experienced unrest and discomfort before and even attacks – and many times before. The entire Civil War was fought so as to preserve the union but as well as to abolish slavery. The truth of the matter is that we as American people have bent over backwards to erase the wrongs of slavery. Within our system of law, we have a principle known as the statute of limitations. Crimes and injustices from decades and even centuries ago need to be put to rest. Any who, either in groups or as individuals, choose to hold onto hatred will only be consumed by their own hatred. Scripture passages repeatedly make this point. Now I want to turn attention to Ferguson MO, the events of 2014 and of the last week or two in particular.
The Ferguson riots, if you wish to call them that, were in no way riots that erupted spontaneously. Rather they were orchestrated, staged, and planned events. Anybody with half a brain could tell in advance the time, the place, and almost what would happen. The protesters knew, the media knew, and even the authorities knew precisely the script to be played out. The public at large also knew what was to come when the Grand Jury’s verdict was announced. Moreover, the announcement of a no indictment had been an obvious and foregone conclusion.
Yet as we look back at Ferguson, the authorities allowed the events to proceed, and with virtually no use of force to restore order and to provide for public safety. The National Guard of Missouri, although previously mobilized and assembled, effectively stood by. Police watched in large part, but did not engage the situation of looting, mayhem, burning of buildings and vehicles, and outbursts of weapons being fired. Area fire fighters as well withdrew rather than risk coming under fire. One fact is abundantly clear – as was the case in prior unrest notably the Rodney King riots of 1992, the police withdrew leaving the citizens on their own fending for their own safety because the safety of the police took precedent over the safety of the public at large. Those persons who argue that the citizenry have no need for firearms saying that the police will provide protection are either outright liars or are grossly misinformed.
As sad as all of the above might be, the real tragedy in our present nation is that the highest law enforcement officials in our land – the President and the Attorney General – publicly uttered ghastly words. The President stated on a national televised broadcast that the actions of the Ferguson protesters were legitimate. The Attorney General, at the request and urging of the President, stated that his office was conducting an investigation into the actions of the police with an eye towards charging the police with civil rights violations. More recently, the President uttered the phrase “communities of color” in a public address. This is America. The President of the United States should be the President of our entire and unified nation and its entire people, and not just the President of a segment at his choosing so as to serve his current political agenda.
And yet, the facts surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown were made as clear as broad daylight. Unfortunately, we have slipped into a situation where facts are irrelevant, and that only the agenda, or what some call the narrative, counts. Also, the posturing of the highest law enforcement officials is clear.
The highest officials in this nation are engaged in outright lawlessness, such as blithely rejecting the deliberations of a Grand Jury convened to hear countless witnesses and examine the evidence in a myriad of forms. From my perspective, I treasure the rule of law. Without the rule of law, our society will crumble into anarchy and chaos. As a cynic and crushed idealist, it is my fervent conviction that the President has exactly this objective in mind as he seeks to transform our nation. Unfortunately for us, his vision of a transformed nation is in reality a destroyed nation – one that he is intent on personally destroying.
The glimmer of hope that still rests in me is that significant numbers of Americans agree with me, and that significant numbers of Americans are likewise prepared to do something so as to reverse this decline and to restore our nation. Leaders are leaders only when the people will follow. What is happening and is about to happen is that true patriots will set upon a new path. In my own situation, as I reside in and move about the greater St Louis area, I carry at all times. Moreover, I carry at minimum two firearms and at times three. My son advises that I go nowhere in St Louis without additional firepower in the trunk of my vehicle. I define additional firepower as an AR-15 style rifle with ample ammunition (loaded into standard capacity magazines), and a riot shotgun. My favorite riot shotgun is a Remington 870 Marine 12ga pump loaded with #4 buck.
I am strongly convinced that significant numbers of American gun owners will not put down and will not surrender their arms. The task of finding and collecting the firearms would be impossible. The rank and file police and military are strongly pro-gun. Only small numbers of police and/or military will turn on their own people. Those that would knock on doors, or even smash down doors, will bear the consequences of their actions. Yes, a few firearms will be confiscated, but the ability of news to spread will cause many more to be prepared and waiting.
Other consequences will come into play. One consequence relates to taxes and the collection of taxes by governments. A long time ago I came to the realization that Americans are in large peaceful and law abiding. We pay our taxes in what is largely a volunteer mode, albeit with some governmental coercion. In my view, most Americans pay the tax and move onto other matters. Many of us have our own ways of handling our affairs, notably by what is commonly referred to as the underground economy. As an illustration, flea markets and barter economies are difficult to tax. Objects are often sold, such as by Internet listings, to cash buyers and without the benefit of a paper trail. Without getting too specific, my sense is that the true patriots are inventive and as inventive people, the American way of life will become like the national game of France – tax avoidance/evasion.
I own two commercial properties in nearby Alton IL, just across the river from St Louis. These two properties are located a stone’s throw from each other. In the process of walking back and forth, often several times a day, I am forever picking up trash and debris. Most trash, I presume, is thrown out of the windows of passing cars. I must add that the neighborhood is mixed, and also that considerable vehicle traffic carries various minorities. About 80 percent of the trash is that of fast-food wrappers and containers. Another 10 percent consists of alcohol beverage bottles and cans. The last 10 percent is Swisher Sweets(cigar) wrappers. I had never realized until quite recently that the drug addicts purchase Swisher Sweets so as to use these for “blunts,” thus for rerolling and smoking stuff that has a little more kick. This use of Swisher Sweets came to my attention as Michael Brown strong-armed some from a convenience store in Ferguson shortly before his unfortunate (for him) confrontation with Officer Wilson on August 9th.
The supposedly unhappy and oppressed people who are prone to rioting are in effect victims of themselves. These unhappy and down and out people lack, in my view, two skills – how to (properly) shop, and how to cook. If one can’t shop and cook, which requires some discipline and planning, then one becomes pretty dependent upon purchasing fast food. The truth is that a steady diet of fast food isn’t very healthy, and it certainly isn’t cheap. If you combine that with a minimum wage job or possibly no job, the habit of sustaining one’s self on fast food is a recipe for economic disaster.
The real problem that America faces stems in part from the last half-century of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. Welfare handouts (of trillions of dollars) have destroyed the family unit and have destroyed the work ethic. In my business I could easily employ several people, but in truth I opt to do all the work myself so that I don’t have to deal with somebody who is incapable of showing up, incapable of performing an assigned task, and incapable of working with a smile. The unemployment rate (in communities like Ferguson) is out of control because these (mostly) young people have scant marketable skills and scant desire to work. The few alternatives for these young people that remain are to be filled with hatred, to deal in drugs, to be a gang member, to be a career criminal, and/or to become the “man” on the street where physical aggression is the measure of a man. This type of psychic might prevail on the streets and extend into prison populations, but life in that mode is typically both brutish and short.
In summary, I grieve for my country and for the greater St Louis area. Nothing good can come of the violence, hatred, and destruction that we are now seeing. As an optimist I must believe that at some point the name Barrack Obama will hardly be remembered. Moreover, when it is remembered it will be footnoted as an embarrassment to our nation and the many fine presidents who have served us since our founding.