Matt Taibbi thinks everything is awful, and yet he's way more optimistic than I am:
Nobody's willing to say it yet. But after Ferguson, and especially after the Eric Garner case ... , the police suddenly have a legitimacy problem in this country.But it's not going to be "everyone," because, as Taibbi notes in the same piece, "a white yuppie like me can live in the same city as Garner for 15 years and never even be asked the time by someone in uniform." When is that ever going to change? We know that this has been happening in non-white neighborhoods for years -- Taibbi thinks the resentment in those neighborhoods is going to increase, but it's at a pretty high level already, and has been for a while -- and yet nobody in power ever responds to the anger, however peacefully or violently it's expressed.
Law-enforcement resources are now distributed so unevenly, and justice is being administered with such brazen inconsistency, that people everywhere are going to start questioning the basic political authority of law enforcement. And they're mostly going to be right to do it, and when they do, it's going to create problems that will make the post-Ferguson unrest seem minor.
... you can't send hundreds of thousands of people to court every year on broken-taillight-type misdemeanors and expect people to sit still while yet another coroner-declared homicide goes unindicted. It just won't hold. If the law isn't the same everywhere, it's not legitimate. And in these neighborhoods, what we have doesn't come close to looking like one single set of laws anymore.
When that perception sinks in, it's not just going to be one Eric Garner deciding that listening to police orders "ends today." It's going to be everyone. And man, what a mess that's going to be.
The bulk of Taibbi's post is a comparison of what happened to Eric Garner at the hands of the authorities with what happened to the people who crashed the economy a few years back -- obviously, the people who did the economic damage got away scot-free. But if Taibbi thinks injustice can reach the point of being so egregious that the public just won't allow it to continue, then why hasn't that happened in the case of the financial community's misdeeds? Sure, we had Occupy for a few months, but overall we've just watched mutely as the sons of bitches got away with it.
We may be entering an era of protest, but if whites are never treated the way blacks are by the cops, and if most whites never develop sufficient empathy, then I'm not sure protest will change anything. Taibbi expects a reckoning. I'm afraid I expect more of the same.
(Via Balloon Juice.)