By Luke Visconti
Whenever we enter a controversial news cycle, we are besieged with comments from people who obviously don’t read DiversityInc on a regular basis. I usually Google comments to see where they came from. What is striking is that comments are almost always organized. I’m convinced there is a constant stream of what you could call public relations or marketing emanating from extremely conservative groups controlled by the Koch brothers. (It’s important to keep in mind that the billionaire Koch brothers’ father, Fred Koch, was instrumental in founding the John Birch Society, a racist, radical-right movement in the 1960s.)
It’s important because I see the Ferguson situation being defended— despite the militarized, big-government reaction to a protest—by certain groups that otherwise profess to abhor big government. These groups, led by people who have an economic agenda, only abhor big government when it comes to things like labor law, environmental regulations and healthcare.
If you work for a large corporation, it’s important to understand that comments come to us during the workday and often from corporate IP addresses. This racism is polluting your corporate environment and is affecting the productivity of your people; you need to keep an eye out for people grinding an axe at your expense. Here are some of the phrases to look for in the Ferguson situation:
1. Outside agitators. This is turned into a constant excuse for the bizarre expression of force by police on almost entirely unarmed, almost entirely peaceably protesting citizens. “Outside agitators” include 11 journalists arrested for such serious offenses as not leaving a McDonald’s fast enough. Further, it’s striking to me that an American citizen going to a protest is an “outsider,” but National Guardsmen in military gear are not.
2. A thug up to no good. The constant stream of information besmirching Michael Brown’s character from law-enforcement and government officials continues unabated. The main thrust is to show that Michael Brown attacked the police officer, something that many witnesses say didn’t happen. Yet we are treated to information being released by people who weren’t even there, with certain anti-big-government groups believing government sources over American citizens who witnessed the killing. In a very odd turn last night, we received about a dozen comments (most of which I did not post since they were repetitive) that cited news that Police Officer Wilson had a broken eye socket, insinuating that Michael Brown punched him (again, no eyewitnesses agree with this accounting of the incident). Considering Michael Brown’s autopsy did not show a bruised hand and Officer Wilson was immediately secreted away after the killing, I’ll offer an alternative version: There is another police officer icing his punching hand.
3. Witnesses discounted because they have “an agenda.” Let’s be real, they’re being discounted because they’re Black.
4. Racial racketeers. A traditional way to discount views that conflict with yours is to describe people such as Reverend Jackson as “racial racketeers”. Ironically, there is no bigger racial racketeer than the local police, who pull over a vastly disproportionate number of Black drivers, despite their own results showing that white drivers are more likely to have contraband on them.
Why are certain people (mostly white men) susceptible to having their emotions corralled by so-called conservative websites and organizations that don’t serve their own best purposes To be sure, communications efforts are sophisticated, with an agenda to cultivate political power for economic reasons. They end up serving as a de facto resource group for alienated and disaffected white men—especially those over 50 (and of those, especially men who do not consider themselves successful in their career), who have seen the workforce dramatically change during their lifetime, with the dramatic expansion of nonwhite, non-male talent viewed as being antithetical to their own selfish interests. The John Birch Society flourished for a while then imploded on its own hate and is now a shadow of its former self.