August 22, 2014

Couple of Morning Thoughts on the Ferguson Ordeal

By In Blogs, C.Jay Engel

I always get the sneaking suspicion that I’m being suckered into following what the media wants me to follow, paying attention to the meal that is served right in front of me instead of looking around to other things that are going on.  The two dominant memes right now are Ferguson and the ISIS beheading of the journalist (which many people are saying is obviously fake– I don’t think I care enough to really look into it).  Anyways, since these hashtags are blaring at me all day on my Twitter feed (how about you just get off Twitter then??!), I have a couple thoughts.

First, as R. Campbell Sproul noted last week, we should not make this thing about race.  Everything these days is about racial or sexual “oppression” and, to be frank (I prefer Francis), these are enormous “dominant social themes” that never have anything to do with the real issues. Yes, I am of the opinion that race and sexual problems are largely exaggerated and exacerbated so as to stir up trouble.  But besides that “conspiratorial” outlook, if you want to call it that, Sproul was right when he noted:

The level of melanin in the skin of the victims or aggressors isn’t really all that relevant when it comes down to it. The real issue at hand is the use of force and the way in which the state aggressively expands its powers and takes away individual rights in the face of a potential crisis.

Which leads to my second thought: we shouldn’t deny that there is on display an enormous theater of police state antics.  When the Federal Government, which has been running a global police state freak show since the beginning of the Cold War, has a program to transfer military equipment to local police forces, one does not have to get too imaginative to wonder what in the world might result.  Our nation is being transferred –and not slowly — into an occupied territory where tanks and helicopters and full-fledged SWAT teams are ready at all times to dispense on the citizenry.  This point –about the American police state– cannot be overstated or ignored.  This is a 21st century reality that is radically out of control.

Thirdly, we don’t have to support the rioters and looters when we oppose the military invasion.  This is just another example of a false dichotomy: are you for the police or the rioters? Answer: neither, I reject both destruction from mobs and overreacting police forces, which, in the spirit of cause and effect, help to fuel the mobs. It truly is a vicious cycle.

Fourth, I think we should be cautious on forming an opinion about what happened between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson, the cop.  One storyline has Wilson shooting Brown (who was walking away from Wilson) because he was black and was suspected of theft.  Another storyline has Brown charging and attacking Wilson, who then defended himself.  Sometimes, the libertarian reaction is to immediately point the finger at the workers for the State.  But that is misguided. We don’t know the facts yet, so we can’t decide.  While the State has in general done more damage to the peaceful existence of man, the members of the State are not the only human sinners and are not the only threat to society. Either way, neither the gangs of looters who are reacting in outrage nor the American police State are justifiable.

The number one lesson, I think, is that the grandest illusion in our time is that the State makes life better. Civilization is getting worse, society is collapsing all around, and the State is expanding under the pretense of “security.”  But security is farther away than it has ever been. Such is the nature of the empire’s fall.

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to
  • David

    Whether Michael Brown was murdered or not, being an American Police Officer is an evil career, just as much so as being a professional prostitute, if not more so. At least prostitutes aren’t aggressive by definition.

    I wish where we could get to the point where you couldn’t be a state-hired mercenary (and that goes for soldiers to) and a church member simultaneously.