Best case scenario for holding Michael Brown in some kind of moderate regard is that he and his buddy are walking down the middle of the street when officer Darren Wilson encounters them. Officer Wilson has no idea someone matching Brown’s description roughed up a clerk at the corner store and boosted a box of Swisher Sweets.
In this scenario, Officer Wilson is heavy handed and orders Brown to the sidewalk, barking like a rude jerk instead of an officer of the peace. Officer Wilson then backs his vehicle to block the two and throws open the door, perhaps striking Brown and his friend with the door.
What follows, of course, will now live in American race infamy.
Words are exchanged. Tempers flare. Brown winds up halfway inside Officer Wilson’s vehicle. They both scrap for Officer Wilson’s gun. Brown is shot in the hand. Then, outside the vehicle, he is shot in the top of the head, charging at Officer Wilson, according to witnesses.
Let’s give every disputed fact to the Michael Brown camp. Through that lens, Officer Wilson is a jerk. And, to be sure, Brown protesters have a fair and important point about some police officers forgetting who they work for when dealing with citizens on the street.
But was Michael Brown’s young life worth making that point? Was it the best way to make that point? And does the martyrdom of Michael Brown outshine his really thuggish, lawless behavior in the moments preceding his untimely death?
Which raises an important point: Why do people pick the biggest losers to be their heroes? And why does the media go along with it?
Michael Brown’s life is a giant tragedy. But not in that short term sense that his followers embrace with fainting spells. It wasn’t a tragedy at the hands of Darren Wilson.
This was a tragedy that happened at the hands of Michael Brown himself. It happened at the hands of his parents who apparently failed to instill in him a respect for others.
It happened at the hands of a society that failed to instill in him a respect for the law. It happened at the hands of an education system that failed to instill in Michael Brown that a box of Swisher Sweets is the reward for learning and hard work. There is no such reward for stealing.
Michael Brown was not a hero. He died a failure. He died as the latest face of America’s failure to deal honestly with race in America.
So why do so many people turn to bums like Brown in search of a hero?
Well, to be frank, consider the other options.
Bill Cosby has been kept afloat on a halcyon sea of Jell-O pudding — after decades of allegedly drugging and raping countless women. What would one call the standard Mr. Cosby has been held to all these years?
Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking to a black church after the Ferguson verdict, promised new Department of Justice guidelines “to help end racial profiling once and for all.”
Why would Mr. Holder make such an empty promise? Does he really think his “guidelines” will actually end racial profiling? No. It will not. So why would he further diminish his credibility to make such an absurd promise.
Even Jesse Jackson, himself, has acknowledged that he racially profiles people walking down the street and feels “relieved” when the footsteps he hears behind him are that of a white person.
Speaking of Jesse Jackson, who called the Ferguson jury verdict a “hangman’s noose,” how is he even allowed to open his mouth anymore? And Al Sharpton?
The list of rogues and carnival barkers goes on and on. And all they ever do is run their mouths.
So the people of Ferguson look around and the closest thing they can find to a hero is the poor, unarmed teenager, lying dead in the street.
Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and on Twitter at @charleshurt.