Friday, August 22, 2014

How Reporters Smoked Ferguson, Missouri

Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
What started out as a local shooting death in an average neighborhood in the township of Ferguson just outside of St. Louis City has become a media crack house.  The immediate rush to label this a racially-motivated incident, even murder, has been nothing less than a call to get high for journalists. 

Thus, in the two weeks since the shooting, journalists from news networks, citizen journalists, and bloggers have come running to St. Louis, salivating like Pavlov’s dogs.  A story about a white cop who shoots an unarmed black teenager in cold blood is a tremendous fix, even if they have to cook that narrative up with as few facts as possible.

The story hasn’t turned out to be what they had anticipated, however, as things aren’t always as simple as they appear.  Details surrounding the incident came out drop by uncomfortable drop, revealing a fuller picture that perhaps Officer Darren Wilson had probable cause to shoot and kill.  No matter.  What has supplied the media with continuous fixes are the looters and the rioters, the police with tear gas, the insertion of politicians called to “do something” about civil unrest, the arrival (and departure) of the National Guard, and even the federal government carving out a role for itself in a neighborhood that is better measured in square yards than in square miles.

Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
And so two weeks later, with no new developments in the investigation into the shooting, that story seems to have faded significantly as the reporters themselves have taken center stage.  The media now appear to be like a large flock of pigeons flitting up and down West Florissant Avenue.  They have nailed down canopies, and reporters can be spotted at almost every street corner psychoanalyzing everything from the gunshot pattern to voting practices of the state.

It just feels and smells like they are here to put themselves on camera. And I’m not the only one who is saying that. One journalist and one photographer have recently written blog posts about why they are leaving Ferguson, and they are doing it for all the right reasons. Ryan L. Schuessler, a freelance journalist shares one of his observations:

“One reporter who, last night, said he came to Ferguson as a “networking opportunity.” He later asked me to take a picture of him with Anderson Cooper.”

He writes
“There are now hundreds of journalists from all over the world coming to Ferguson to film what has become a spectacle. I get the sense that many feel this is their career-maker. In the early days of all this, I was warmly greeted and approached by Ferguson residents. They were glad that journalists were there. The past two days, they do not even look at me and blatantly ignore me. I recognize that I am now just another journalist to them, and their frustration with us is clear. In the beginning there was a recognizable need for media presence, but this is the other extreme. They need time to work through this as a community, without the cameras. 
We should all be ashamed, and I cannot do it anymore. I am thankful for my gracious editors who understand that.”
Photographer Abe Van Dyke confesses he felt like part of the problem.

“When the skies turn dark is when troublemakers come out which has led to night after night of violence in this small community. Expecting the worst, an increasing amount of amateur, foreign and domestic journalists came into town. At one point there appeared to be as many media members as there were protestors...”

“A woman was pepper sprayed and a civilian medic needed to attend to her which brought the media to completely surround her and the medic.

To me this is the point where the media is no longer simply reporting what is happening but rather becoming a hindrance and making the situation worse. Over the past few days journalists have been a part of inciting protestors by getting dangerously close and not always following police orders...”

“I am no saint. I photographed alongside everyone tonight and was part of the problem. I refused to follow police orders and only moved when threatened by arrest or with the flow of the crowd.

I am embarrassed by the way the media acted tonight, myself included and have decided that the media is now a problem in Ferguson. I will be leaving Missouri in the morning while hundreds of other journalists will continue to record events and battle with police for the right to be there.”
Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

It hasn’t been all bad though.  Media, eager to scoop up anything they can find, have unwittingly outed the great number of out-of-town protesters among the locals, perhaps even outnumbering the locals.  Known Marxist revolutionaries, New Black Panthers, and professional agitators have been spotted in the streets.  Even Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have paid a token visit.  Eric Holder too.  I wonder how many of them even know the names of Michael Brown’s parents. 

Clearly, the situation in Ferguson has become ridiculously media-driven.  It would be better for the community if the cameras were put away at this point, because it can be difficult to tell if marchers are marching for Michael Brown or marching for the camera…and some looted hair extensions.  And the journalists?  I think it will be hard for them too.  They will stay at least through the Michael Brown funeral.  There’s still a little life left in Ferguson they have to burn and smoke before they finally look elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Deportation of the Politically Incorrect

The story of this family has been in and out of the news over the last six years.  But the final word from the Justice Department towards the Romeike family is that the freedom to live however you like only applies if you're gay, a Muslim, or a Mexican illegal...or if you're a gay Muslim Mexican illegal.

Obama Admin. Wins Battle to Deport Christian Home School Family

For those of you who like to say you keep your attentions focused solely on the Gospel, how much injustice do you let pass before you in an effort not to appear controversial to those whom you're trying to earn their approval (and perhaps buy their conversion)? I admit I've heard a lot of sermons admonishing Christians to live out the Gospel by helping the needy and oppressed. Isn't it strange that when the oppressed fall outside politically correct spheres that suddenly the Gospel isn't about helping them in their time of need?

Supposedly, the rationale for deportation goes a little like this:  Germany's government wants to foster "pluralism," and home schooling somehow isn't pluralistic. That attitude self-refutes, because if the German government likes pluralism, then this family is a great example of their society exercising pluralism by schooling their children outside their ethnocentric norms.  For our Justice Department to look at this and deport them for no good reason should be a violation of civil rights--after all, this Administration is big on giving civil rights to non-citizens of the US, right?

However, the biggest hypocrites of all I see are Christian hipsters who imagine themselves too cool to get involved. Hipsterism says that global warming and $20 birth control are real crises, and the solution is obviously to drink more Starbuck's coffee in disposable plastic cups and wage an expensive campaign to force everyone to pay for "free" carcinogens (birth control pills).  Standing up for the liberty of a Christian family to teach the three R's while saving energy (on gas and clothing) and dispensing with schoolyard bullying is obviously not as cool today as standing up for the gay Muslim Mexican illegal's right to marry another gay Muslim Mexican illegal in a church.  

UPDATE:  According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), The Department of Homeland Security (I know, huh?) has declared that the Romeike family can stay in the US permanently.  Hallelujah!

From their Facebook status update:
BREAKING NEWS!!! The Romeikes can stay!!!
Today, a Supervisor with the Department of Homeland Security called a member of our legal team to inform us that the Romeike family has been granted "indefinite deferred status". This means that the Romeikes can stay in the United States permanently (unless they are convicted of a crime, etc.) This is an incredible victory that can only be credited to our Almighty God.We also want to thank those of who spoke up on this issue--including that long ago White House petition. We believe that the public outcry made this possible while God delivered the victory.This is an amazing turnaround in 24 hours. Praise the Lord. Proverbs 21: 1 "The king's heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord, He guides it wherever He pleases."~~Michael Farris