[Vision2020] Differing opinions on the murder of Michael Brown

Rosemary Huskey donaldrose at cpcinternet.com
Mon Aug 25 12:43:57 PDT 2014

I'm personally not interested in what Joe Klein has to say about the death
of Mike Brown.  What direct experience or special information does he bring
to the conversation?  Instead, I suggest that Melissa Harris Perry,
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melissa_Harris-Perry>   a woman of color, who
has life experience that Joe Klein will never access has a great deal of
personal insight to bring to the conversation. Dr. Harris Perry holds a
faculty position in Political Science at Tulane University.  She gets "it"
in ways Joe Klein can't even imagine. And, as you can assume from the
subject line of this email, so do I.
Rosemary Huskey

" Dear Joe,

It's me, Melissa. I'm writing to you today about your column Beyond a Simple
Solution for Ferguson.
<http://time.com/3153340/beyond-a-simple-solution-for-ferguson/>  You write:

[At first, it seemed a perfect metaphor for 400 years of oppression: a white
police officer shoots an unarmed black teenager multiple times. He is shot
with his hands up, it is reported, at least once in the back.]  Joe Klein,
quoted from A Simple Solution for Ferguson 

Joe, when a community is reeling from an unarmed teen shot to death, when
his body was left for hours in plain view of the community. When no arrests
have been made for his slaying, when those who are protesting the killing
are met with militarized local police force and teargas, it is not a

The people of Ferguson and the nation are mourning the death of a real
person. They're responding to actual events and actions taken by the local
government. That this death and those actions are consistent with the long
history of similar deaths and actions makes them historically rooted, not

[But the perfection of the metaphor is soon blurred by facts. The gentle
giant, Michael Brown Jr.-nicknamed Bodyguard by his friends-seems pretty
intimidating in a surveillance video] Joe Klein quoted from A Simple
Solution for Ferguson. 

 Joe, seems pretty intimidating is not a fact. The fact is the surveillance
video shows an apparent petty crime. One that officer Wilson did not know
about when he stopped Michael Brown and one that does not carry a death
sentence even if a person is guilty of committing it.

[An autopsy, requested by Brown's parents, shows six bullet wounds; the kill
shot is into the top of the victim's head-which raises another possibility,
that the officer, Darren Wilson, fired in self-defense.] Joe Klein A Simple
Solution for Ferguson.

Joe, it is certainly a possibility, but let us traffic in facts. Officer
Wilson was armed. Michael Brown was not. Officer Wilson shot Michael Brown.
Michael Brown is dead. Officer Wilson has not been arrested. 

On the day that the Ferguson police finally made Officer Wilson's name
public, they also released the surveillance video you mentioned, despite
knowing that it had no bearing on the officer's decision to stop Michael
Brown. Those are the facts.

You cite these statistics:

[Blacks represent 13% of the population but commit 50% of the murders; 90%
of black victims are murdered by other blacks.] Joe Klein from A Simple

Joe, if you want to just recite random crime facts that have nothing to do
with this case, how about this one? 83 percent of white victims are murdered
by other white people. Your statistics about black perpetrators have nothing
to do with what happened August 9th. We know who shot Michael Brown to death
and it wasn't a black man.

And how about this statistic? On average between 2006 and 2012, nearly two
times a week in the United States, a white police officer killed a black
person. Twice a week. That fact would suggest Michael Brown had plenty of
reason to be afraid of Darren Wilson. Now you go on:

[... a debilitating culture of poverty persists among the urban underclass.
Black crime rates are much higher than they were before the civil rights
movement.]  Joe Klein quoted from A Simple Solution

Joe, the American crime rate overall, regardless of the race or victim is
higher than it was in 1960 and crime has dropped precipitously since its
peak in the 1980's and '90's. And it is not culture, but rather poverty that
is debilitating, because it severely reduces access to sufficient nutrition,
housing, health care, educational opportunities and sustainable employment.

As to the culture of poverty, is it American jazz and blue or hip-hop that
you're referring to? Because those are some of the cultural products of the
black American poor.

You write:

[Absent a truly candid conversation about the culture that emerged from
slavery and segregation, they won't be solved at all.]  Joe Klein quoted
from A Simple Solution for Ferguson.

Joe, we have finally found a place of agreement. The culture that emerged
from slavery and segregation does require a candid conversation. We need to
lay bare the implicit assumptions held by many of white superiority and
black inferiority that come from slavery and segregation. Curfews,
militarized police, teargas deployed on people exercising their First
Amendment rights and public officials who insist there is no race problem
and that outside agitators are responsible for all the troubles, definitely
appears to be the residue of a cultural pathology bred by the legacy of

Now Joe, I would be very interested in having a candid conversation about



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