Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Random thoughts on a Wednesday: British boys' schools; Ferguson, Mizzou.

I was talking to an American about boys' public schools in Britain. These exclusive institutions like Eton, Winchester and Harrow, have trained centuries of the British ruling class in settings that date back equally as long. To meet a graduate of one of these places is to greet a most curious combination of delicately refined high culture molded through a boys’ savage Darwinian barbarism that would put most primeval despots to shame. 

On a separate note, if there is a silver lining to the images and sounds and reports out of Ferguson, Missouri, it is the broad condemnation from across the political spectrum of an emerging American police state enforced by idiots, led by fools and paid for by federal dollars unleashed after a massive terror attack against New York City in 2001. Even in a culture that worships the gun, the weapons on display are terrifying for the ignorance they embody.  Strong enough to kill a man from over a mile away, a sniper’s rifle has no place in tiny Ferguson. Quality leadership, effective training, heightened awareness and sensitivity — all of these appear entirely lacking in a local police force of 53 mostly white officers in a town that is 65 percent black. I fully suspect that if the police used their minds and their capacity to communicate (such as it is) as readily as they reached for their arsenal of deadly tools, much more positive would have been accomplished in these intervening days.  I do at times wonder what it must feel like to be black man in America, under siege in a land your people have inhabited longer than almost any other immigrant group.

The whole episode is shameful, but serves as a bright beacon for the direction we are headed and must avoid.  There is no freedom down that dead-end alley.  No suh, not none at all.