It’s hard to have sympathy for anyone in the Ferguson affair — the cops, the demonstrators, the pontificating politicians, the exploitative media or we its pathetically loyal audience that keeps tuning in. The whole event plays out like the umpteenth rerun of the famous quote from Marx about history repeating itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.
By that accounting we should all be at Aristophanes, Moliere or Groucho (pick your favorite farceur) times ten by now.
Unfortunately, however, it’s farce with virtually no comedy, no humor. The Ferguson affair is a grim business indeed, particularly grim watching the latest nightly edition — the eighth one! — on television Monday evening. On and on it goes, the roundelay of police and demonstrators, tear gas and bloviation. We even have the old standbys from the O.J. trial (Dr. Baden Baden Baden) making an appearance for the second of who knows how many autopsies to be conducted. Where is Marcia Clark? And there must be someone Alan Dershowitz can represent? Admittedly, the good professor has hands full with the Israeli-Palestinian conflagration, but he has retired from Harvard Law so he should have some free time to multi-task. And most of all — where’s Geraldo? It’s hard to believe he’s not on the scene by now, flagellating us all about America’s perpetual racial crisis.
(To his credit, Fox’s Shepard Smith wondered aloud Monday whether the media was actually exacerbating the situation and might help things by going home.)
By now you’re thinking, what’s Simon doing making light of this? Okay, it’s a media circus but an eighteen-year old kid died here, even if he was a bit of stoned thug who liked to beat up clerks in convenience stores just to make off with a box of cigars. He didn’t deserve to die.
No, and neither did several hundred — or is it thousands — or even tens of thousands — who died in a similar time frame.
But, you say, this was a white-on-black crime. An o-fay cop offed a brother. (Never mind that brothers can butcher brothers like it’s going out of style, this pig had white-skin privilege.) Well, yes, and we don’t yet know the circumstances, but even accepting the narrative of, say, the Huffington Post that the cop was the reincarnation of Bull Connor and that the “youth” was a “gentle giant” on the way to a contract with PBS as the next Mr. Rogers, the event is basically a charade. Everyone knows we’ve seen it before and everyone knows we’ll see it again. In fact, many parties don’t want it to go away. The beat must go on. It has to go on or their very personalities will disintegrate. And I will tell you why — what caused it.