Thursday, November 27, 2014

Michael Brown as a Rorschach Test

Well, it looks like my powers of prediction regarding Michael Brown were pretty good so far. (This doesn't make me very happy.) Then again, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how things would go. But what has been interesting to me (in an unpleasant way) is the discussions of the verdict and its aftermath, both on-line and in person, in which I have been involved this week.

First, there is a widely spread rumor that has been accepted as Gospel truth, that Michael Brown was stopped by Darren Wilson after robbing a convenience store. For those who believe this, allow me to point out the following facts:
  1. Michael Brown was not stopped by Officer Wilson for being a suspect in a convenience store robbery. At the time Brown was stopped, Wilson did not know of the alleged robbery of the convenience store which Brown is accused of robbing. (Source:
  2. The video which purports to show Brown robbing the store is of such poor quality that no faces can be recognized in it. (Source:
  3. The employees of the store allegedly robbed by Brown have admitted that they made no 911 calls regarding a robbery on the day that Brown was shot. (Source:
  4. Michael Brown had no criminal record on the day he was shot. (Source:
Lastly, no cigars were found on Michael Brown's body or on the ground next to him after he was shot dead.

But one interesting element in all these facts is that either they have been buried under a flood of right-wing propaganda and scapegoating, or that many people don't want to hear them in the first place. When people only see what they want to see, it's always a sign of an underlying issue of character or personality. So allow me to suggest that Michael Brown has become something of a Rorschach test for the American public. In this, he is like Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, ISIS, and Vietnam, except that what happened to him hits a lot closer to home. If the Rorschach test is supposed to differentiate between sanity and insanity, then the United States has been badly failing over most of its history. And times are coming – in fact, they are already here – in which we'll need all the sane people we can muster, because of the consequences of a failure of sanity among many members of the general public, who continue to believe that we can continue to scapegoat those who are crushed by the cowboy conquistadores of this country in their search for a little more Lebensraum.

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