A lesson from Ferguson riots
Most people used to think that violence and protests would somehow be different in America, the cradle of democracy. The events last week in the town of Ferguson in the state of Missouri have rather altered that perception, however. The death from a police bullet of the unarmed young black American Michael Brown, and the protests, violent anger and acts of looting that followed, were in fact a warning, not just for the US, but for the entire world. May be the reason for the violence and rage in the world is not a problem of democracy or freedom, or areas with difficult neighbors, but a flaw of perception and understanding.
Certainly some people have described the main reason behind the events in Ferguson as excessive use of force by the police and angry reactions. Yet the real cause is deeper: Ferguson is an area with a largely black population. African Americans make up two thirds of the 22,000 population yet the Mayor and five out of six people on the City Council are white. The senior ranks of the administration are nearly entirely white, and there are just a few black police officers. There is a huge gulf between the public and the police for just that reason.
The region is known as the poorest part of the St. Louis area, of which it is part. Commercial growth in recent years has only increased the inequality of income in favor of the white population; the black population has grown even poorer in the last 15 years. Investments and companies largely belong to whites, and the people employed by those companies again largely consist of whites. The increasingly impoverished black people have therefore also become unemployed.
The death of Michael Brown was simply a spark that ignited the events in Ferguson. The scourge of racism had long been harming them in one way or another.
All the scourges in the world are the product of mindsets. Radicals misinterpret religion, communists regard terror as legitimate in the name of “equality,” and racists believe that other races are scientifically inferior to them. Africa itself still suffers irreparable problems due to the mentality of racism. Neither they nor the exploiters who regard them as “inferior” have ever been told that they are entirely equal as the children of the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) or of the scientific invalidity of the concept of so-called “superior” or “inferior” races.
This lack of education is also clearly a problem in America, the cradle of democracy. It is no surprise that similar problems should manifest themselves in different ways on different continents. Unless education to correct a false mindset is provided, then some white people who regard it as a scientific fact that they are superior will inevitably impose that twisted perception on black people. That is exactly what is happening in the US now.
When some American academicians and writers urged violence in the Middle East and said that the region’s problems could only be solved by war, I warned, “Do not encourage violence; that violence may return against you in an unexpected form.” Now, the events in Ferguson may be regarded as a confirmation of that warning. And the events in question remind one of something very important: Prejudice is no respecter of distance, geographical differences or civilization. When a perverse mentality flourishes in one place, it can easily put down roots somewhere else. We need to look at this threat in the context of radicalism, too; radicalism is, after all, a mindset and it is not essential for America to be a neighbor of the Middle East for this mentality to run deep.
I hope that the US, an important country, will soon overcome these conflicts and I hope that the scourge of racism and radicalism will not become a major problem for the US. That is my prayer. But the lessons that need to be drawn from these unfolding events must also not be ignored. The Obama administration is known not to have favored violence right from the outset. However, mindsets that encourage, in the name of serenity, greater division in the Middle East and outlandish projects such as Great Kurdistan, and thus the violence and civil conflict that will follow, are a problem for the US. So long as they espouse these ideas, the door to a policy of violence and rage that extends to the US itself will remain open. It is no secret that the US is also paying a price at this time when peaceful protests have become a thing of the past and when people can so easily be turned to anger and hatred.
Every country in the world has a unique value with its own unique attributes. In that context, every country has positive attributes that can be made use of. In the context of America, these attributes are democracy and liberty and democracy and liberty are genuinely needed in the world today. Therefore, a superpower such as America must of course be involved in global problems. But in order to do that, the US must start by changing its own mindset. It must believe that it is not violence, but education alone that can solve violence, vandalism, racism and radicalism.
When this happens, the confronting the regions where violence is widespread like the Middle East, Africa and all places in turmoil will surely be resolved in a short time. The US has a significant status to accomplish this. It could be the leader to move away violence from upon itself and the entire world but it can only achieve this by emphasizing proper education.