The international spotlight has recently been shining on Ferguson, Mo., after an 18-year-old black man was fatally shot by a white police officer. There was massive national and international media coverage, much of it engendered by the tantalizing thought that here was a clear-cut case of racism leading to police brutality and indicative of the evil inherent in American society. Violent demonstrations and riots ensued, with massive property damage and many outside agitators descending on the town, supposedly to guarantee justice as defined by mob mentality.
Perhaps it would be useful to examine the tragedy with the facts on the table rather than through the lenses of hypersensitized emotions stimulated by those attempting to exploit the situation.
Regardless of one’s position on the political spectrum, we can all agree that this was a horrible tragedy and needless discarding of a precious life. How could it have been avoided? Two obvious answers: The officer could have ignored his duty and backed off when it became apparent that his instructions would not be followed, thereby avoiding a confrontation, or Brown could have complied with the officer’s instructions, as required by his civic duties.
If police officers generally adopted the first solution, chaos would reign supreme in our streets. If the populace generally adopted the second solution, there would be even fewer incidents of police violence. Last year, 100 black males were killed by police in the United States. In the same year, 5,000 blacks were killed by other blacks, the vast majority being males. Could it be that we are erroneously being manipulated into making this incident a racial issue when, in fact, it is a component of a much larger social issue?
Once we get the most powerful economic engine the world has ever seen back on track with sensible economic policies, we should devote some of the tax revenues generated to child-care facilities that would allow many of those unwed mothers to get their GED or higher degree and become self-supporting. There are also a number of programs across the nation that offer free classes that teach social and job skills, which would give many of the young men some different options.
We must concentrate on these kinds of programs because we cannot afford to lose large segments of our society to despair and underachievement in an increasingly competitive world. We have a social crisis brewing if we continue down the path we are on now, but we have the power to change our downward course with true compassion that allows people to rise and escape dependency.
— Ben Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University and author of the new book One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future. © 2014 The Washington Times. Distributed by Creators.com