After reading all the stories and seeing all the footage from the protests in Ferguson, I’m left with one question: Where was Ted Nugent?
Considering his well-publicized rage at a corrupt government increasingly out of step with the Constitution, with what he views as a growing dictatorship hell-bent on declaring Martial law and ruling with an iron fist, certainly Nugent would find in Ferguson proof of his wild claims of an authoritarian government. By standing strong and rebellious in the street, protesting alongside the thousands that, like him, had had enough, Nugent would finally be able to point to his naysayers and say, “See, this is what I’ve been talking about.”
Needless to say, I spent hours scanning through YouTube streams and still-action photos of the tumult in Ferguson. Not only did I expect to see Nugent there, I honestly imagined he’d be bare-chested and mounted atop a light post, picking off the abusive, despotic police officers with his long bow, his face streaked with the blood of democracy’s enemies. But he wasn’t in any of the videos or photos.
Nor was Cliven Bundy or any of his rag-tag crew of brave, patriotic freedom fighters who stood defiantly behind a wall of human shields in order to stop our dystopian government from randomly enforcing the law. Remember when they aimed loaded weapons at police officers’ heads, refusing to heed the call of the law? Well, since none of those people died that day, there was no doubt in my mind they would all have been down in Ferguson earlier this week to carry on the good fight. But no, I didn’t see one of them.
I didn’t see any of those ready-for-revolution survivalists who have been walking into McDonald’s restaurants and Wal-Marts with assault rifles strapped to their backs. Of course, there’s nothing unusual about walking into a Wal-Mart with a gun; personally, I don’t feel comfortable at a Wal-Mart unless I’m packing at least two guns and, ideally, traveling with some backup. But McDonald’s? No, you don’t just walk into a Micki D’s to demonstrate to all those minimum-wage earning teenagers, not to mention all the soccer moms getting their pumpkin spice latte on, just how ready you are to resist tyranny unless you really mean it.
But no. I didn’t see any of those guys protesting in the streets of Ferguson, either.
Now, for the most part, rational people have dismissed mouth breathers like Nugent as idiotic fear mongers. Still, if Nugent—or any of them—truly believed that the American government was becoming despotic, that revolution was becoming a virtual necessity, what could possibly support their argument more than police officers shooting unarmed civilians? Is there a single act a corrupt, lawless government could do that could better demonstrate the validity of Nugent’s rants of the last few years?
So, yeah? Where was he?
As it turns out, he was at home plugging away on Twitter and, in general, getting absolutely giggly over the fact that a white cop got over on a dead black man once again. I’d imagine the same is true for Cliven Bundy and all the other gun-toting revolutionaries out there. Don’t get me wrong: they’re not racists.
In fact, they don’t even see color.
How else can you explain that these same ardent defenders of freedom went through much of the Bush administration saying nary a word about the Patriot Act or wire-tapping or water-boarding or drones? How else can you explain that instead of viewing Michael Brown’s death—and a grand jury’s failure to issue an indictment—as a perfect illustration of just how out-of-control our government is becoming, how militarized and mobilized against the people that those sworn to defend us are becoming, Ted Nugent sees only black people doing stupid shit and getting their just punishment for it.
I suppose we could take time to have a more nuanced discussion about the effect systemic oppression has on the consciousness of black people, or we could maybe try to cope with the reality that many people who experience white guilt never truly come to terms with it—suppressing it, instead, until it manifests itself into what we’re seeing now: a projection of a new kind of racism (for America, at least) driven by a belief that, by being white, they’re being victimized.
But I’m a problem solver, and the simple fact is that incidents like what we saw in Ferguson (and like we’re increasingly seeing in the never-ending barrage of YouTube videos in which police act as judge and executioner) will not stop until white people like Ted Nugent are just as outraged by the brutality of our police forces as are the people being brutalized. But there is only one way that will ever happen.
Cops are going to have to start shooting some white people.
And not just any white people, mind you. That meth addict running naked through the trailer park doesn’t count. And yes, I’m fully aware that cops are regularly tazing the shit out of young white men, but incidents like that aren’t going to upset white America because, let’s face it, the videos are freaking hilarious. So no, tazing doesn’t count, and he can’t just be any white guy.
No, I’m thinking cops need to start shooting older white guys. You know, men in their 50s to 60s, balding. Kind of fat. Perhaps ones wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the American flag and driving big ole pickup trucks that still sport a Bush/Cheney 04 sticker. In other words, pretty much anyone who looks like Rush Limbaugh.
Of course, the trick with getting a cop to shoot an unarmed person like that is, well…so few of them are ever unarmed.
Still, I’m an optimist, and I still cling to hope. Think about it: if some white, unarmed, 50-year-old owner of a local lumber yard gets shot by a cop standing 50 feet away, the collective rage of our right-and-white America would be so great it might actually rip a hole in the space-time continuum (a hole through which, we can all pray, the old Nuge-meister would be sucked). In fact, it probably isn’t even necessary for cops to start shooting white people. No, it would probably be enough if cops started treating all white people as suspects just as so many currently do with black people.
Seriously: what do you think would happen if cops started randomly driving up to good old white boys walking down the street, stopped them and asked, “where are you heading tonight?” What if cops started following white guys in their business suits as they picked up some odds and ends at Safeway?
It’s a rhetorical question, because we all know exactly what would happen. Of course, until right-and-white America starts living this reality, even just a little, many white people will continue to scream about an oppressive government while at the same time cheering the very tools of that government’s oppression. Instead of viewing officers like Darren Wilson as reckless enforcers of punishment, folks like Nugent will continue to see them as just and noble servants of the government they don’t trust.
Yes, there’s a great deal of cognitive dissonance there. But the truth is this: Nugent, and people like him, truly do believe our current government is a threat to democracy and to the future of America. They don’t, however, see police officers’ unwarranted violence against black people as a threat to America for one simple reason: they don’t see black people as being part of America. But of course, as they’ll tell you, it’s not because they’re racists.
It’s because they don’t see color.