The Ferguson-Obama Syndrome

Bob Barr
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Posted: Jun 08, 2016 12:01 AM
The Ferguson-Obama Syndrome

Over the past year or so, several major cities across the United States have experienced a violent crime wave not seen since the 1990s. This spike in violent crime, measured by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, has confounded Leftist sociologists, bleeding-heart politicians, and members of the media, who constantly tend to blame private gun ownership and the police themselves for increased criminal activity.

In fact, one of the prime causes of this problem may very well be the media and Leftist politicians, including the President and his previous and current Attorneys General.  And the spark that appears to have ignited it happened two years ago in a then-largely unknown suburb of St. Louis, Missouri.

In August 2014, a black teenager walking on a street in a high-crime neighborhood, was shot by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer during an altercation. His death sparked not just riots in the local community, but launched a social “justice” movement -- most commonly known as “Black Lives Matter” -- that has hijacked any real discourse on meaningful criminal justice reform.  This “movement” has instead foisted its strong-arm agenda on individuals from Capitol Hill, to city halls and campuses across the country. Worse, it has caused a ripple effect on policing and crime that goes beyond the cute games played by Twitter activists and campus bullies; and now is a growing wave of violence and misery.

It need not have been so.

To use an apt cliché, the tragedy in Ferguson was a “teachable moment” for our nation. There has been no comprehensive, multi-faceted plan to address criminal justice reform and policing tactics in America for more than two decades.  The vast changes in technology, the prevalence of federal military equipment given to local police agencies, and the focus on terrorism – all of which have developed since the Clinton Administration – especially when coupled with the deterioration of race relations over the course of the Obama Administration’s seven years in office, have caused significant strains in communities generally, and between the citizenry and law enforcement in particular.  This, despite a veneer of lowered crime statistics overall.

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson was merely the spark to a powder keg being filled for years, and represented a bursting of emotions that went far beyond one isolated incident.  The response by the Administration, including the President and the Attorney General, not only was inadequate, but counter-productive.

Rather than taking the opportunity to remind citizens of the respect that police and our nation’s laws are due – something essential to help protect individuals, families, schools and businesses in communities where crime has taken hold -- our “Community-Organizer-in-Chief” squandered the opportunity to launch a positive dialog on race relations and 21st-Century policing standards; opting instead to press for federal oversight and mouthing platitudes that have fostered fear, anger and more disrespect for the rule of law.

So, instead of being inspired by a leader like Martin Luther King, Jr., who could rise above circumstances and still show love and respect while calling for change, we see a President who clearly suggests to those engaging in demonstrations and rioting it was okay to disrespect police officers and march in support of those efforts, so long as it was in the name of social justice as they saw it.

Is it any surprise what has transpired in several major cities across America since then, with significant spikes in violent crime rates?

Beyond simply failing to support police, by indirectly and implicitly feeding the anti-law enforcement sentiment eroding respect for them, this President and Attorney General are making life less safe in communities that they claim to be helping. In Baltimore, Maryland, for example, a case of perceived excessive violence from police last year was responded to not with measured calls for an investigation and ideas for sensible reform, but with riots that lasted many days, and a rush by local politicians to try the police in the court of public opinion before launching questionable prosecutions.

The “teachable moment” Obama has so longed for in to show us all how great a leader he is, has been squandered by his unwillingness and inability to consider anything beyond the narrow worldview crafted from his days as a radical community organizer in Chicago.  

Hopefully, the calls by FBI Director James Comey and other experts for an objective and reality-based dialog and search for solutions to this “Ferguson Effect” and the “Obama Syndrome” that has helped fuel it, will prevail in the months ahead, and continue with a new Administration next year; though the chances for that to occur appear neither clearly focused nor very bright at the moment.