I’ve had a number of students over the past few days ask me for my opinion of the events in Ferguson, MO. They register shock when I tell them I don’t have one. “You see,” I say, “Ferguson is not my place. I don’t have intimate knowledge either of it, or of the events there. In the absence of such knowledge, any opinion I have is going to say more about me and my concerns than it will about Ferguson.” We live in a world that resists judgment when we have intimacy, but encourages it when we don’t. I don’t really have the right to pass judgment on the events of Ferguson. I’m an outsider and would almost certainly oversimplify things. In any case, I’m not sure it’s any of my business.
This usually stops them in their tracks, but also gets them to think. The strongest claim for concern, I believe, comes from arguments grounded in racial solidarity, and from a viewpoint of (presumed) shared experience. Otherwise, as is often the case, the less said the better.
The American Conservative does have an interesting article from a former citizen of Ferguson, which is worth reading.