It’s a dilemma. As an executive of a mainstream news organization, you know that Ferguson = ratings. The more violent, the better. But as a member of the liberal elite, you have to find a way to square that violence with your social justice message. You try to make a thing out of a young man killed by police on the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, but footage shows he was armed. That won’t work. Hey, wait a minute. White people with guns? That’s the ticket!
So now millions of Americans have been told about the Oath Keepers, a group of patriots who headed out to Ferguson loaded for bear. The group’s spokespeople have said they were in town to protect journalists from Infowars.com, though the website’s management has denied hiring the bodyguards. Whether they were there specifically for Infowars or simply there to provide protection from violent looters, they have few friends among the protestors.
Some protestors cried foul, insisting that if a group of armed black men invaded the city, police would not stand idly by. For his part, the St. Louis County police chief called their presence “both unnecessary and inflammatory.” Unfortunately for them, though, the group’s members are allowed to openly carry under Missouri state law.
Sensing the racial inequality lurking beneath the surface, the media has pounced on the story. Somewhat interestingly, though, the Oath Keepers appear largely uninterested in communicating with the press. Even major stories on NBC and the AP have to mostly make do with quotes from the group’s website and old interviews.
But here’s what’s interesting. In the days before the Oath Keepers arrived on Tuesday, police had their hands full with looting, shooting, and public mayhem. Not to the extent things escalated after the grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson, but still tense and deadly. Tuesday, by comparison, was quiet. No gunfire. No looting. No property damage. A coincidence? You decide.
“They just showed up, walking around carrying their assault rifles,” said Patricia Bynes, Democratic Committeewoman of Ferguson Township. “There really was no need.”
Ah, it seems it was just a coincidence. Let’s see what else this sharp cookie has to say about them.
“If there were black and brown people in this country who showed up in the streets open carrying assault rifles in paramilitary garb would they still be received the same way?” Bynes asked. “It seems to be that especially when it comes to the Second Amendment there seems to be a different way that it is enforced.”
It’s really hard to argue that point, actually, but it kinda skirts around the issue at hand. Are police hesitant to start arresting Oath Keepers because they’re white or because they don’t want to get into a skirmish with strict constitutionalists? Officers there have enough to worry about without setting off a firefight with men who know their rights.
Sadly, there is also the matter of trust. And the record shows that the vast majority of licensed gun owners are no threat to public safety. And the vast majority of those happen to be white. Make a correlation, don’t make a correlation, the numbers come to the same. The media and places like the Southern Poverty Law Center like to make these groups sound like imminent threats to national security, on par or exceeding the threat of radical Islam. In reality, the statistics simply don’t support this view. Do these people have views that some might find extreme? Sure. But that doesn’t make them criminals.
But when it comes to the media, there is an equivalency problem. White hate speech is worse than black murder. Armed white men are worse than black shooters. Every injustice in the world can be traced back to white sin. The rest of it, we can just sweep under the carpet.