Commentary

Powder Keg

By Charlie Daniels | December 1, 2014 | 12:26pm EST

Rev. Al Sharpton with the parents of Michael Brown. (AP)

The death of Michael Brown was a tragedy that destroyed a family, incited a riot and divided a city, and while there were sincere protests and peaceful marches carried out by truly concerned citizens who felt that the police overreacted, it was the fringe element of agitators and their followers, many of whom had less interest in justice than in looting and burning, that got the most media attention. And unfortunately, they became the face Ferguson, Missouri presented to the world.

And when that happened, the whole narrative switched from root cause and effect to covering the violence and the threats that sprung up across the country as the well-being and property of innocent people suffered the results of the mob mentality incited by the troublemakers. It unfortunately happened again after the grand jury decision, which found no cause to indict Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown back in August.

If you examine the root of situations like the Michael Brown incident, you almost always find the same cause, disrespect for the law and refusal to comply, which escalates into the ugly results, not unlike what has happened in Ferguson.

Michael Brown had just stolen cigars from a convenience store and manhandled the storeowner. After Brown left the store, he walked down the middle of a public street, and then he was approached by Wilson, just doing his job, who told Brown he needed to get out of the street and onto the sidewalk. After a description of Brown came over Wilson’s police radio as a suspect in the theft just minutes prior, Wilson approached Brown again, who was belligerent and threatening. The situation eventually escalating from words to bullets, with the horrendous results we are so familiar with.

There is an old saying that goes, “if you don't like laws, you should go live in the wilderness where there is no law.” Without laws - duly enforced - the streets of our cities would soon become wilderness.

Personally, I don't believe that Michael Brown's race or the color of his skin had anything to do with the outcome of this situation. I believe it had more to do with his belligerent attitude, his intimidating size and his disrespect for authority that drove this thing past the point of no return.

I think the result would have been the same, race notwithstanding.

A law, by its very existence, is a uniform code of conduct to be observed by all citizens for the protection of all citizens, and when that code is violated it endangers the peace and safety of everybody. Left unenforced, it creates and encourages more disregard for the law, and society descends into chaos and even anarchy.

I was born in 1936, in the Deep South, in the days of rampant racial prejudice and Jim Crow laws, and I remember a time when there were no black police officers. The color of skin did go a long way in the meting out of justice, or injustice in many cases, as the court usually took race into consideration when weighing the validity of testimony and other aspects of a case.

It was totally unfair, unjust and unlawful, and as I grew older and began to figure things out for myself, I came to detest the unfair judicial system I had seen in action in my formative years. I became very sensitive to the evenhanded application of the law and fair treatment for all citizens.

The days of the weighted jury and the segregationist judges are many decades gone in my beloved Southland, basically dying off a couple of generations ago, but for those of us old enough to remember those days and those ways, it left an indelible impression and instills a little extra caution when looking at both sides of a situation like the Michael Brown incident. And while I am certainly not uniquely qualified to evaluate it, I do have some strong opinions concerning it.

I believe the whole thing could have been avoided if Michael Brown had simply obeyed the law and gotten out of the street, answering whatever questions the police officer had for him.

I believe that the presence of people like Al Sharpton, who draw their conclusions, ignoring whatever facts don't suit their purposes, stirs up anger and doubt and incites violence.

I believe that the media thrives on sensationalism, and their wall-to-wall coverage attracts even more troublemakers for a longer period of time.

In the whole history of this nation, there has never been a president who had the opportunity to heal old racial wounds, find common ground between factions and bring the diverse races of this nation together. Obama had the mandate, the popularity, and the trust to bring us together as never before.

Unfortunately, he chose to widen the racial and financial divides for his own political purposes.

I have heard cooler heads address this situation, sensible people of different races, who take all the facts into consideration and make their opinions accordingly.

I hope that we can put this incident behind us insofar as the racial element is concerned.

If the family feels they have grounds for a civil suit, so be it.

Or, if it's discovered that Brown's rights were violated, by all means, reopen the case and proceed accordingly.

But for those who comb the ashes in an attempt to find a live coal to start another fire, go home and let the nation heal.

What do you think?

Pray for our troops and the peace of Jerusalem.

God Bless America

Charlie Daniels

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