The Ferguson Protests Aren't a Movement for Civil Rights
The response of the African-American “civil rights” establishment and the American Left to the verdict in Ferguson came quickly and predictably. Al Sharpton and other racial demagogues urged their followers to take to the streets if anything but a first degree murder indictment was handed down for Officer Darren Wilson. The protestors and rioters were prepared, but Missouri’s governor wasn’t. He failed to call out the National Guard on the day the verdict was released.
What is particularly galling is the argument that the events in Ferguson, and the no bill for Wilson, are a throwback to the segregationist era of the 1950s and 1960s, when the modern civil rights movement engaged in non-violent civil disobedience. “The Movement,” as they called it then, showed the nation and the world the immoral actions of police chief Bull Connor of Birmingham, Alabama, and others of similar ilk, thereby exposing the injustice of the system of segregation -- a system based on power and violence, preventing black Americans from enjoying the rights and liberties guaranteed to them by the U.S. Constitution.
One of the true heroes of that era was John Lewis, now a member of Congress from Atlanta, Georgia. A former chairman of SNCC (the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was beaten to a bloody pulp for peacefully participating in a “Freedom Ride,” in which black and white Americans broke the law by refusing to accept segregation on the buses. What prompted Lewis and the Freedom Riders was the belief that their actions would force the federal government to enforce a law ignored by some Southern states that made segregation unconstitutional in interstate bus travel throughout the South.
Lewis’s struggle, and that of the movement of which he was a part, helped change America and made our country live up to its promise. The once segregated South now has more African-American officeholders than there are in the North. Transportation and accommodations are no longer segregated, and the local authorities are not beholden to the Ku Klux Klan or the White Citizens’ Councils of yesteryear.
A few days before the verdict was handed down, Lewis proclaimed that unless Officer Wilson was indicted, a “miscarriage of justice” would occur that would demand nothing less than nation-wide “massive, non-violent” protests. This time, Lewis was arguing to ignore the law, and that only one pre-ordained verdict would be acceptable. Where is the justice in that?
Lewis then compared Ferguson to Selma, Alabama, where, in 1965, marchers led by Lewis and others were turned back as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge to the state capitol. Lewis said that in Ferguson “the same feeling and climate and environment” exists as existed in segregationist Alabama. In Selma, state troopers turned them back and, when they stopped to pray, beat them with nightsticks; Lewis suffered a fractured skull. Now he says that “we’re going to have the same reaction as people had towards Selma,” which is simply a preposterous analogy. In one case, protestors were demanding their rights as Americans. Today, a jury which included African-Americans examined the evidence and came to the conclusion that there was no reason to indict an innocent cop.
There were more protests throughout the country. At the White House, scores of people gathered outside, where they sang the civil rights movement’s anthem, “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around,” sung in Selma and elsewhere. These protesters, too, were accepting the myth that Selma and Ferguson are one and the same.