IT'S AS IF THE OBNOXIOUS RIGHT-WING UNCLE YOU ARGUED WITH AT THANKSGIVING HAD HIS OWN SHOW ON CABLE
The opinions expressed by Joe Scarborough over the course of a seventeen-minute segment about Ferguson this morning were painful enough: not just that Michael Brown was a "thug" who had a lethal bullet coming to him, but that it's a mean-spirited attack on cops to dare to question the shooting of Cleveland's Tamir Rice, a twelve-year-old carrying a toy gun -- all of it frames as a harangue against St. Louis Rams football players for making a gesture of solidarity with Ferguson protesters, which Scarborough described as "the last straw" (because God forbid anything even fleetingly unpleasant should come between a suburban dad and his football). No, it wasn't just the opinions that were galling -- it was the way Scarborough turned the harangue itself into an extended example of white alpha-male privilege, as he browbeat his panel of subordinates, demanding deference to his take on the Ferguson situation, which, he insisted, was clearly superior and not subject to criticism. ("And by the way, if I've offended anybody by saying what I've said, trust me, 95 percent of America think just like me," he said at one point.)
Watching it is like watching a hostage situation, or the worst Thanksgiving dinner with a right-ing relative jagged out on alcohol and caffeine. Co-host Mika Brzezinski is so intimidated or beaten down, she's virtually silent. Wes Moore is all but required to concede that the Ferguson protesters have no moral leg to stand on. And Mark Halperin ... well, if even Mark Halperin is taken aback by your own chest-thumping sense of your own alpha-hood, and your belief that you're entitled not to have empathy, then you've gone pretty far off the deep end.
I grant that Michael Brown's behavior was not unfailingly exemplary on his last day. I agree that looting accomplishes nothing positive. And I know that Scarborough tries to give himself a moral out by acknowledging some racial inequities, and by reminding us that he's on the liberals' side with regard to George Zimmerman.
But to know what black people go through every day in their relations with the police, to recognize that they never know when their lives may be ended by a cop, and not to respond to this in a human way -- sorry, but it's unconscionable. To decide instead that you're the aggrieved party because someone dared to make a political gesture you disagree with when you were trying to watch a football game, to treat that as a massive grievance, is an act of mind-boggling narcissism. Scarborough demands that everyone defer to the cops at all times, even when they threaten to shoot you for getting out of the car after a traffic stop. He uses this segment to effectively become the cop-as-terrorist before whom he wants us all to prostrate ourselves.