When the grand jury’s decision came back, letting Ferguson officer Darren Wilson off the hook, you just knew that President Obama heard the winds of legacy a-brewing. His speech, split-screened by the media in one of the best examples of modern irony we could have asked for, was centered on peace while protestors started throwing bottles at police officers. But it wasn’t until Monday that he convened his Cabinet and various civil rights leaders to see what he could do to thrust his way into the history books.
To be fair, the early indications are that he’s going to propose some ideas far less offensive than they could have been. He asked Congress for $263 million dollars, much of which is intended to pay for body cameras for police officers. The rest is ostensibly earmarked for police training that will improve relations between cops and minority communities. I think it’s strange that a fairly straightforward case like the Michael Brown one would lead to these changes, but there you have it. Certainly, some people don’t want to acknowledge the truth.
Still, while I don’t have a problem with the cameras or the training, I have a deep problem with the president continuing to demonize law enforcement. Body cameras are a wise move. They serve to protect citizens as well as officers. They take some of the question marks out of close-call cases, and they may just prove to be an invaluable technology when it comes to preserving civil rights. But it’s a shame that Obama can’t endorse these actions without playing in to this false Ferguson narrative.
Let’s just put this out there: Officer Darren Wilson did nothing wrong. Period. Unless witness testimony, forensic evidence, and common sense have all conspired to paint an incorrect picture of August 9th, Wilson did nothing more or less than his duty on that fateful day. That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems with the Ferguson PD, and it doesn’t mean there aren’t problems in other racially-divided communities, but it does mean that this is the wrong case to use as a foundation for change.
Does it matter? I think it does. What if it turned out that Rosa Parks was only discouraged from sitting in the front of that bus because they just fumigated the seats? Wouldn’t that kinda diminish her heroism? Changing public policy requires support from all sides. When you start from a controversial case like this one, you risk marginalizing one side even when they would usually agree with you.
But that’s Obama through and through. He’s so desperate to put his name alongside the all-time greats, he’s more willing to do something because it’s controversial than because it’s the right thing to do. That the two happen to go hand in hand this time is purely coincidental.