On Tuesday, just before my Thanksgiving travels began, I posted a piece on the website Blue Virginia titled One Thing I Know about Ferguson. I posted version of the same thing on my Facebook page, and a Tea Party guy of my acquaintance reposted it under the caption, "Andy Schmookler attempts to further dumb down the left."
On the comments thread on Blue Virginia, I made mention of the "discussion" that then ensued, involving a variety of this fellow's political allies, and I described some of what was manifest there as disturbing. That led to some conversation involving several of us as to whether there was anything much "new" going on in the American body politic or if it is now just more visible thanks to the Internet or what.
My view is that quite possibly we are looking at a profound and dangerous development in a segment of American consciousness. Not everyone saw it that way, but as I was unable to provide people with access to that material, the discussion was handicapped. I'll provide it now.
First, my piece was very careful to make a single point that did not take sides as to the facts of the shooting and as to whether a proper grand jury process would or would not have indicted Darren Wilson for the shooting of Mike Brown. My piece, rather, was a criticism of the Missouri officials -- the prosecutor, and the governor -- for how they handled the process.
Of those officials, I wrote:
We don't need to know anything about the shooting to know that the officials in charge here failed to serve the public interest.
Their priority should have been to conduct the process in such a way as to maximize the chance that everyone would have confidence in its integrity and fairness. They didn't even try.
That should have been their priority because taking care not to damage the larger society by exacerbating a major fault line is what has been most important all along...- Advertisement -
That would have meant bringing in a special prosecutor, of unquestioned integrity, in charge of the investigation and the grand jury process.
That was it.
Here's one of the first responses that it got on that Facebook page.
Andy, your kidding right? If your not your either stupid or foolish or just pandering to the left. You guys on the left and you race baiters are trying to gin up some racist issues that were settled over 50-60 years ago. I am tired of being blamed for slavery when NONE of my family supported and some of them bled and died for during the civil war. Most of the crime within the black community is black on black and the thug mentality that the rap culture portrays seems to bolster this view. Its sad we should be coming together as a country. When black witnesses tell the grand jury exactly what the cop said seems to me to be a slam dunk. But of course if he was indited then the grand jury did its job. We either have a system of laws or we don't, mob justice cannot and should not be allowed to prevail. What do you want to do not have a trial, throw a rope over a tree and put the cop on a horse and a noose around his neck and slap the horses rump, is that what you wanted? That is sure the way the black agitators wanted it to be. We should be ONE NATION, PERIOD.
One issue that arises for me is the question I put to that gentleman:
How did you get from anything in my piece to this idea you bring up of "mob rule." Or were you fully aware that that whole ugly image (a lynch mob) had absolutely nothing to do with anything I was saying, but chose to bring it up anyway just to rile people up?
Either way I find that disturbing.
If he did believe that he was responding to my argument, that reveals a failure of "reading comprehension" so huge that I'd fail a 9th grader for such a misunderstanding. Then the question would be, how did a guy who is not stupid get to be so "stupid" in interpreting what my piece was saying. And on that point, I would venture that this manifests someone so caught up in his ugly passions of hatred that he has been disabled from dealing with reality in any remotely healthy way.
And don't we see a lot of that on the right? Wouldn't this be a sign of something really sick and twisted and destructive that's come into the American political process far more than we have seen it historically?