I have lived long enough and studied history diligently enough to recognize that perspective means everything during conflicts such as the extended racial fight that is occurring in Ferguson Missouri. It is the alluded to matter of perspective that informs our judgment of conflicts.
For example, if one were to view the American Revolution from the perspective of colonists, George Washington is a heroic figure that should be lauded by all of those who love freedom, while the British would consider this same figure a treasonous traitor who learned military science at their foot and then used it against them. The divergent perspectives are attributable to perspective.
Maybe another example will convince you of my general point. An individual who throws a Molotov Cocktail into a crowded café that results in the deaths of innocent civilians is simultaneously hailed as a hero and villain for the same action by those who have differing perspectives of the event.
It is this issue of perspective that has caused Americans to either denounce the recent shooting of two officers in front of the Ferguson Missouri Police station as a despicable cowardly act or celebrate it as a valorous revolutionary statement that must be replicated.
As an African-American male who is guided by a moral principle that leads him to execute acts of kindness to complete strangers, regardless of race/ethnicity, and does his best to stay within the confines of the Law, yet has been harassed and ‘roughed up’ by law enforcement officers on several occasions, this action places me in a moral quandary. In the words of W.E.B. Du Bois,
The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,—this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face.
So at moments such as these, there is a patriotic side of many African-American males that urges them to denounce such seditious activities, while there is also another side that causes them to rejoice at the strike for liberation.
However, I am at a loss for words for why many are shocked that someone individual(s) took the initiative and struck out against those that have served as the military wing of the rich and wealthy in this nation for centuries. Ironically, the individual(s) that committed this act are operating out of the tradition that birthed this nation, put simply, they are actively resisting tyranny. It was the ‘founding fathers’ determination to not be the slaves of Great Britain that caused figures such as Patrick Henry to publicly yell, “give me freedom or give me death.” It is the pursuit of freedom that led colonial leaders to throw off the yoke of British oppression ‘by any means necessary.’
So there is no doubt that the gunman who pulled the trigger and fired the bullets that seriously wounded two officers last night was operating out of the same tradition that Patrick Henry related via his often cited mantra and struck a revolutionary and liberating blow for the oppressed huddled masses. And if you can not see that, you may need to look from another perspective.
James Thomas Jones III, Ph.D.
©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015