Just now I read an opinion piece in the Washington Post titled, "Ferguson Isn't About Black Rage Against Cops; It's White Rage Against Progress." The gist of the column, written by an associate professor in the African American studies and history department at Emory University, is that what's sparking the controversy isn't the shooting itself, nor the looting and violence thereafter, nor even any national concern about where we are, after all these years, with black crime and white police.
Nope, it's about how Ferguson "shows us" that white people still want to subjugate blacks a la' slavery (or as close as whites can get to slavery). They want to do this by such vicious means as efforts "to dilute African American voting strength [through, e.g., voter ID laws] or seek to slash the government payrolls that have long served as sources of black employment."
The article is, in its way, just the most recent in a long line of furious, Sharptonesque attacks on whites, not dissimilar to the one I noted before arguing that what Ferguson is "about" is that whites had better cough up reparations. But there's a more fundamental point about the vocabulary in which this entire discussion is being conducted.
Ferguson is the name of a town in Missouri. It isn't "about" anything until we know what happened. If you're reading something purporting to tell you what Ferguson is "about," or "the lessons of Ferguson," or "how to avoid the next Ferguson," put it down. It's just using the word "Ferguson" to appropriate your attention to an agenda that's been around for years.
Those actually interested in knowing what Ferguson is "about" are still waiting. Waiting is annoying, for sure, but old-fashioned qualities like patience, maturity, authentic curiosity and fair play demand it. If Ferguson turns out to be about a cop who shot a muscular, huge, enraged 18 year-old charging at him from a few seconds away, then it's "about" one thing. If it shows a cop who shoot a huge, muscular 18 year-old who wanted nothing but to peacefully surrender and posed no realistic threat, then it's "about" something else. In neither event is it necessarily about an issue with national resonance, although it might be, depending -- again -- on those pesky specifics.
For the moment, we are left to regret that, even as we're still in the dark about the most important facts, the now standard-issue charge "KKK" gets hissed at those, white or black, who want to see that legitimate voters are the ones voting, and take at least a stab at paring back the government's sinkhole debt. If liberals are ever again able to make their arguments without this kind of opportunistic, race-baiting calumny, please, someone, jab me in the ribs.