Madinat Zayed, United Arab Emirates, 10.22 am
Some remaining thoughts from readers regarding the grand jury decision and aftermath:
Your correspondent compared Ferguson to Benghazi:
There’s a narrative of racist-white-cop-kills-harmless-black-kid, and no matter what uncomfortable fact intrudes, like that so many “witnesses” admitted they didn’t actually see what they told the media they saw, the narrative must go on. Because racism.
You know, s/he’s not entirely wrong. But even if Micheal Brown had been holding an AR-15 in each hand when he was shot, everything that we’ve been talking about in the aftermath of his death about the systemic corruption, violence, impunity – and yes, institutional racism – of policing and incarceration in this country would still be true. The ugly, simple truth is that very few people will rally against injustice in the abstract, regardless of the scale. We just aren’t wired for that kind of empathy. (Stalin was right about tragedies and statistics.) So is it a mistake to try to leverage a particular case to bring the bigger issues to the fore? It certainly is risky, and I think we are seeing why right now. But if there is a better way to go about it, I don’t think we’ve seen it yet.
Another would seem to concur:
I agree with your take on Ferguson. If your objective is to make an example of how police interact with young men of color, this isn’t a perfect case. It’s just attracted the most attention. And the response is making it worse. But this is where we are, with the incompetence and violence and rioting and everything. And every day that sees a riot, we get a little bit closer to forgetting Michael Brown.
Taking in the non-indictment and aftermath of the Brown tragedy, I think I understand a little bit more about your perspective on Matthew Shepard. One thing you can’t say about Shepard is that his life was wasted. He just wasn’t the person who took advantage of it. His parents and advocates of gay rights and hate crimes legislation – good or bad – made sure his name would ring out after he died. They took an imperfect case and made it count.
I want to remember Michael Brown as the namesake of laws around the country that require all police to wear body cameras. “Michael’s Law” has a nice ring to it.
Another goes after his fellow left-liberals:
When I listen to the commentary on the left, I can’t help hearing benevolent racism.
I woke up this morning to the following headline:
It will be appealed. But did I ever think I’d read that headline in my lifetime?
I love this country because, for all its deep divisions and constant insanity, it moves forward, and not by sudden elite fiats, as in Western Europe, but by the long and winding road of debate, lawsuits, legislative action, court action and presidential nudging. This struggle isn’t over – and the debate should never be over – but what long way we’ve come. Mississippi.
“The GOP has withheld cooperation from every major element of President Obama’s agenda, beginning with the stimulus, through health-care reform, financial regulation, the environment, long-term debt reduction, and so on. That stance has worked extremely well as a political strategy. Most people pay little attention to politics and tend to hold the president responsible for outcomes. If Republicans turn every issue into an intractable partisan scrum, people get frustrated with the status quo and take out their frustration on the president’s party. It’s a formula, but it works.
The formula only fails to work if the president happens to have an easy and legal way to act on the issue in question without Congress. Obama can’t do that on infrastructure, or the grand bargain, and he couldn’t do it on health care. But he could do it on immigration. So Republicans were stuck carrying out a strategy whose endgame would normally be “bill fails, public blames Obama” that instead wound up “Obama acts unilaterally, claims credit, forces Republicans to take poisonous stance in opposition.” They had grown so accustomed to holding all the legislative leverage, they couldn’t adapt to a circumstance where they had none,” – Jon Chait, cutting through the chatter as usual.
I still don’t like the executive action here – in an area appropriate for legislation. But as politics, it seems to me more successful than I expected. What Obama has done – rightly or wrongly – is break out of the zone he’s been placed in since 2010. The absolute obstructionism of the House GOP against anything the president might want to do could have rendered him utterly side-lined in his last two, critical years. In fact, that was their smug expectation. Instead the pressure has been ju-jitsued right back on them. The failure of the GOP to respond except in a succession of splutters and outrage has revealed one core reason for gridlock: the deep divide within the GOP that is now, on a critical issue like immigration, threatening to throw their future into doubt. I don’t know where this dynamic will take us. But it sure is more interesting than watching another two years of Congressional deadlock.
(Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty.)
Toobin blasts McCulloch for misusing the grand jury:
[T]he goal of criminal law is to be fair—to treat similarly situated people similarly—as well as to reach just results. McCulloch gave Wilson’s case special treatment. He turned it over to the grand jury, a rarity itself, and then used the investigation as a document dump, an approach that is virtually without precedent in the law of Missouri or anywhere else. Buried underneath every scrap of evidence McCulloch could find, the grand jury threw up its hands and said that a crime could not be proved. This is the opposite of the customary ham-sandwich approach, in which the jurors are explicitly steered to the prosecutor’s preferred conclusion. Some might suggest that all cases should be treated the way McCulloch handled Wilson before the grand jury, with a full-fledged mini-trial of all the incriminating and exculpatory evidence presented at this preliminary stage. Of course, the cost of such an approach, in both time and money, would be prohibitive, and there is no guarantee that the ultimate resolutions of most cases would be any more just. In any event, reserving this kind of special treatment for white police officers charged with killing black suspects cannot be an appropriate resolution.
Noam Scheiber is on the same page:
Politically, I understand the advantage of this for McCulloch. He gets to wrap his preference for not indicting Wilson in the legitimacy of a trial-like process, whereas simply declining to indict Wilson without the support of a grand jury would have left him badly exposed. It would have triggered an enormous political backlash, rather than the relatively minor uproar we witnessed Monday night. But as a basic matter of justice, it’s outrageous. As I noted yesterday, the only way to earn the legitimacy of a trial is to actually have a trial, in which both positions are given a fair hearing.
Allahpundit asks, “What should McCulloch have done instead?”:
This little critter – with a broken back – was found on a beach in Thailand, malnourished and covered in ticks:
And you’ll never guess what happens next (as they say) …
Sullum doesn’t buy the argument that drugs led to Michael Brown’s death:
One challenge for anyone pushing a pharmacological explanation of Brown’s alleged behavior: Despite speculation that he was on PCP, marijuana is the only drug that was detected in his blood. Kathi Alizadeh and Sheila Whirley, the assistant county prosecutors who presented evidence to the grand jury, did what they could with pot, raising the possibility that Brown had smoked enough to experience “paranoia,” “hallucinations,” and maybe even a “psychotic episode.” They planted that idea in jurors’ heads mainly by presenting a toxicologist’s misleading testimony about the amount of THC in Brown’s blood and the possible effects of large doses.
— stacia l. brown (@slb79) November 23, 2014
Nina MacLaughlin explains what happened when, as an adult, she started wearing makeup:
I was experimenting at age 30 the way I never had as a kid. In middle school, all my pals had bright, colored Caboodles full of makeup, like tackle boxes for black-cherry lip gloss, cotton balls, and squares of eye shadow in various shades of blue. I was never into it — not disdainful, just unmoved, the lot of it lost against more pressing concerns: crushes on boys, playing soccer. Plus, I had no one to model the behavior after. My mother wore no makeup. There were no lipsticks to smear, age 6, standing on a stool in the bathroom mirror. No eye shadow to smudge above the lids. My mother looked forward to going gray; to dye your hair, she believed, signaled a lack of confidence, a cowardly rejection of nature. … The message she conveyed to me from an early age was that beauty needed no adornment. I absorbed it, deeply, without knowing I had.
In some ways it’s a positive message to send to a girl: You don’t need this stuff to be attractive. And I’m relieved not to suffer the stress and time-consumption of having to manage my face with products every time I walk out the door. But a subtle strain of judgment exists at its base: If you need to use makeup, then you are not naturally beautiful. Red lips, blushed cheeks, lined eyes — they run the risk of making a woman look clownish, whorish, or — worst of all — like she was trying too hard.
Stacia L. Brown, seen above, recalls undergoing a similar change of heart around the same age:
New motherhood was exhausting, but I didn’t expect it to age me. I come from deep brown women, a grandmother routinely mistaken for 10 or more years younger than her age and a mother more often assumed to be my sister than my parent.
A reader writes:
The recent discussions on The Dish on Gamergate, Dr. Matt Taylor’s shirt, and the the vaguely generalized anxiety over the decline of male culture, has been exhilarating, exasperating, and maddening! I can honestly say it’s the single issue where I feel a viscerally negative reaction to parts of your stated opinion. But, as a bright blue dot in the midst of the deep red state of Texas, I’ve long ago had to learn to look past a few points of disagreement for the sake of a friendship. And we are still friends, aren’t we? I hope so.
This debate, along with your long-standing interest in the beard as a quintessential symbol of masculinity and your commitment to highlighting contemporary portrait photography, has actually had a significant impact on my work as a visual artist. I’m a photographer who works using the technologically obsolete, hand-made process known as Wet Collodion, or Tintype, first invented in 1851. This is the process that was used by the British photographer Roger Fenton, whose work during the Crimean War was likely influential in the popularization of the long beard for British men in the mid-19th century, as you mention in this post.
My colleague Bryan Wing and I are the team Project Barbatype.
Speaking at an international women’s justice summit on Monday, Turkey’s president violated a cardinal rule of public speaking, telling a room full of women’s rights activists that gender equality is unnatural:
Certain work, Erdogan said, goes against women’s “delicate nature,” and “their characters, habits, and physiques are different” from men’s. “Our religion [Islam] has defined a position for women: motherhood,” he said. He then went on to blast feminists, accusing them of not understanding their role in society. “Some people can understand this, while others can’t,” he said. “You cannot explain this to feminists because they don’t accept the concept of motherhood.”
Erdogan tried using the Quran to advance his point, saying, “Paradise lies at the feet of mothers,” which ended up just turning into an awkward reflection on the role of his mother in his own family. “I would kiss my mother’s feet because they smelled of paradise,” he said. “She would glance coyly and cry sometimes.”
Alev Scott puts her finger on why this speech was so frightening:
Erdoğan is neither a lone madman in a padded cell, nor a Victorian uncle caught in a time warp.