Protesting for Disruption’s Sake

Disruption can be an effective protest tactic if limited and carefully targeted. But disruption seems to have been the ultimate purpose of the recent “Ferguson” eruptions—and I am referring not to the rioters but to the nonviolent marchers who closed down bridges, stopped trains, and blocked traffic. We all know why the protesters are upset. Grand juries refused to indict police officers in the deaths of African-Americans Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Their anger and disappointment are understandable. Continue Reading »

Bare Facts

Ever since the 1965 Moynihan Report on “The Negro Family,” the rate of children born in African-American homes without fathers has been a key statistic in social science discussions and policy debates. Back then, it was 25 percent. Today, it’s 70 percent, a rate extraordinary enough to have become a standard citation in discussions ranging from rap music to African-American test scores to Ferguson, Missouri. Continue Reading »

Crime, Race, and Racism

I want to come back to accusations that my column discussing Ferguson, Missouri is animated by racism. I observed that young black males attract the “special attention” of law enforcement, and that any population focused on by people with guns—even law enforcers—will suffer a disproportionate amount of police violence. I also made the observation that this sad truth is hard to avoid, because young black males are often rightly the focus of police attention. Continue Reading »

From Ferguson to Staten Island

My web exclusive yesterday took up that oft-repeated script we saw enacted in Ferguson, Missouri—police violence against young black males, protests that shift toward retributive violence, hand-wringing, soul-searching, and then little change. Thorough reflection on that script needs to take in the quite different trajectory of similar events here in New York. Continue Reading »

The Power of the Liberal Script

Rusty Reno’s treatment of the Ferguson affair in his Web Exclusive today emphasizes the predictable “script” that has unfolded since that fateful confrontation on August 9th. “Black youth shot by policeman [arrow] outrage and protest [arrow] rioting and looting [arrow] indignant and solemn discussion of American racism by pundits and columnists”—that’s the drama, and it surprises nobody anymore. Continue Reading »

Ferguson, Missouri

It pains me to admit it, but I see nothing new in the tragic events in Ferguson, nothing new in the protests, which often blended into festivals of destruction, nothing new in the extensive coverage and the calls for our nation to confront racism. It’s an old script, often replayed. Continue Reading »