Special to The Pittsburgh Tribune Review by Pat Buchanan, September 27, 2016
Celebrating the racial diversity of the Charlotte protesters last week, William Barber II, chairman of the North Carolina NAACP, proudly proclaimed, “This is what democracy looks like.”
Well, if Barber is right, so, too, was John Adams, who warned us that “democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
In the first two nights of rioting, the mob in Charlotte injured a dozen police officers, beat white people, looted stores, blocked traffic, shut down interstate highways, got one person shot and killed and forced the call-up of state troopers and National Guard to rescue an embattled police force.
This was mobocracy, a criminal takeover of Charlotte’s downtown by misfits hurling racist and obscene insults and epithets not only at the cops but also at bystanders and reporters sent to cover their antics.
We have seen this before. It was a rerun of Ferguson, Baltimore and Manhattan after mobs in those cities concluded that innocent black men had been deliberately killed by “racist white cops.”
Yet, one week later, what do we know of the precipitating event in Charlotte?
Keith Scott, 43, a black father of seven, was shot and killed not by a white cop but by a black cop who shouted to him, along with others, almost 10 times — “Drop the gun!”
An ex-con whose convictions included assault with a deadly weapon, Scott was wearing an ankle holster and carrying a handgun.
Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney, also black, after viewing video from a dash-cam and a body-cam of the officers involved, recommended against filing any charges.
The chief concedes that he cannot, from the video, see a gun in Scott’s hands at the time he was shot.
But how is the legitimate investigation of Scott’s death advanced by a mob? And if mass civil disobedience is what “democracy looks like” in 2016, why are we surprised that other nations look less and less to American democracy as their model?
Moreover, if these reversions of the enraged to street action become the new normal, what do they portend for the country?
Blanket cable news coverage of the Ferguson riots split us along racial lines. But what purpose did they serve? Even Eric Holder’s Justice Department concluded that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson should not be charged in the shooting death of Michael Brown, who tried to grab Officer Wilson’s gun.
In New York, the five cops who piled on Eric Garner to subdue him never intended to injure him, said an Investigating Grand Jury. Well over 300 pounds, Garner suffered from obesity, diabetes, asthma and hypertension, and he died not of a police choke-hold but a heart attack.
Yes, there have been incidents when cops made mistakes and cases where cops acted criminally. In Tulsa last week, after a white cop shot and killed an unarmed black man who appeared to offer no threat, she was charged with first-degree manslaughter. Is not this, rather than marching mobs, the way to handle such incidents?
If every collision between white cops and black men resulting in the death of a suspect is to be seen as grounds for mob action like Charlotte, we will never know racial peace.
The street action may be what “democracy looks like” to Barber’s NAACP. But to most Americans, it looks like a formula for endless racial conflict — and a touch of fascism in the night.