Having been born in Missouri, spending my adolescence in Florissant, which is adjacent to Ferguson, now famous for all the wrong reasons, I watch in horror at the deep racism that's been buried in the state now nakedly exposed. What the police are doing in no way represents the people, but the problem is the establishment that has run the state for so long is infested with the types who are trampling on people's civil rights, as well as the U.S. Constitution.
When I left Missouri the culture felt the same way about liberal women. When the E.R.A. was being considered, Missouri was ground zero. There has always been a deep right-wing vein in Missouri, which has taken hold in recent years, seen through Todd Akin's "legitimate" rape lunacy. It comes from the patriarchal philosophy inherent in fundamentalist religions, whatever the denomination. I learned about politics through my brother's political career, state senator, assistant attorney general under John Ashcroft, watching and reading about Missouri's authoritarian nature of wielding power as a young girl. The notion that the establishment in charge thinks their position gives them the power to take away people's civil rights at will is what's playing out in Ferguson, complete with art.
To give you an idea of how pronounced St. Louis racial tensions have always been, when I was at the Miss America Pageant, way back when, during my interview portion of the contest, the first question I got was, "What do you think about busing?" It wasn't a transportation question and they weren't concerned that I was just a dumb beauty queen. They were afraid I might tell the truth and start a sponsorship stampede.
Now cops in Ferguson, Missouri, besides killing an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, have taken to detaining reporters.
Huffington Post reporter Ryan J. Reilly was detained, as was Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery.
"The officer in question, who I repeatedly later asked for his name, grabbed my things and shoved them into my bag," said Reilly, who appeared on MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes" shortly after his release to recount the arrest. "He used his finger to put a pressure point on my neck."
"They essentially acted as a military force. It was incredible," Reilly said. "The worst part was he slammed my head against the glass purposefully on the way out of McDonald's and then sarcastically apologized for it."
There's a reason citizens of Ferguson are pissed off and letting police know it. David Carson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, on Twitter, reveals the evidence.
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson took to Sean Hannity's show last night. He has refused to name the officer involved in the slaying of Michael Brown, which is one reason the reaction by Ferguson residents has come to pass.
Chief Jackson's first reaction is to protect the cop, not reveal justice's level hand, which after Michael Brown's killing people need to see to feel safe.
The people of Missouri need to quit staying home and start changing who runs their state. It begins with throwing off 20th century thinking, which is wrapped up in racial bigotry that is rooted in the history of the Ku Klux Klan.
Taylor Marsh is the author of the new book The Sexual Education of a Beauty Queen - Relationship Secrets From the Trenches out now.