Ferguson and Social Justice: The Thedish Logic of Political Coalitions
— Andrew Wilkow (@wilkowmajority) August 14, 2014
Andrew Wilkow points out a crucial divide in contemporary American politics and culture. He notes that progressives were more than happy to watch the Feds show up at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch earlier this year, seeing it as a proper response to the circumstances. And now, with a similar situation happening in Ferguson, MO, these same progressives find the Feds’ actions to be completely over-the-top, if not fundamentally wrong.
What Mr. Wilkow is noticing is the divide in support for ethnic groups within political coalitions. The men of the Right are often men who look and talk like Cliven Bundy—the middle and working classes who have been referred to as America’s Vaisya caste, characterized as “rugged individualists” who “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and so on (although it ought to be recognized that Bundy himself probably shouldn’t be considered a mere middle-class Vaisya; as anyone who’s spent time in the American West knows, a man who looks like Bundy can have a hidden empire of land and wealth right behind him). These are the kind of men who may have joined the Tea Party, or have bought a Gasden Flag at the very least, in recent years.
In Ferguson, the Left sees their preferred group of middle- and lower-class people—people of color, notably American Blacks—under assault. The Right, as usual, is left with the task of explaining why rioting in your own neighborhood tends to result in a disproportionate show of force from local law enforcement, while the Left angrily chirps about racism and White privilege and so on. As one might expect, leftists were happy to share earlier this week that people in Gaza were tweeting to people in Ferguson tips on dealing with tear gas and so on.
In short, displays of State power in the face of protest are going to gain support along thedish lines. The Right’s men are rednecks, hillbillies, et cetera. When Bundy’s dispute gained national attention, you certainly didn’t see such luminaries as Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton making appearances in Nevada. For the Left, it’s minorities, no matter their color (well, except perhaps for Asians, against whom they discriminate in college admissions). And for whatever reason, the Left seems endlessly fascinated with attempting to create martyr myths (see Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, et al), and we have another example of this with the troubles in Ferguson over the past week after Michael Brown was shot to death by police.