Taken from an Aug. 25 audio column at prisonradio.org
As the body of Michael “Mike” Brown is consigned to the earth, network newscasters and broadcasters are packing their gear, canceling their hotel rooms and setting their sights on new wonders, new images and new stories.
That the tragic saga in Ferguson struck national newscasters is both rare and unprecedented, given the length and depth of the story.
But, to reporters, stories come and stories go.
And the Brown story is going.
Part of the reason is the incessant media chorus for the expulsion of so-called ‘outside agitators,’ seen as the violence-prone troublemakers coming on the scene.
Once gone, tension drained away like an unwanted migraine.
And tension — in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “creative tension” — is the stuff that animates protests and helps fuel movements.
It is the job of the managerial class of lawyers, preachers and politicians to reduce tensions, to de-radicalize movements — to make them manageable.
And once they become manageable, they lose their mass base and with it, their social power. For the masses know the essential nature of the police; for they see them and gauge them daily. They know them as violent, vicious and venal government officials. And they are hungry, anxious to oppose them.
Movements are a lot like volcanoes, which appear dormant or sleeping.
Unseen are underground forces, churning, boiling, crashing like waves against a hidden shore.
Until one day (usually a day none had foreseen), it erupts, splashing its red molten rage over miles, changing everything.
That’s what movements do; and what they are. If hot enough, they can change everything.
But political, media and state forces don’t want change. They want continuity, for therein lies both their profits and their power. And who wants to lose either of those things?
Thus, the tragedy of Ferguson will be stuffed back into the pillow of forgetfulness.
Until next time.