As proof the national media is trying to turn Ferguson into Selma – with no appreciation of a difference in racism between Alabama in the 1960s and St. Louis in 2014 – see Krissah Thompson’s Thanksgiving Day dissertation in The Washington Post. A headline was “To many, ‘Ferguson’ is shorthand for police mistreatment of blacks.”
Though it has been less than four months since Michael Brown was killed, the town seems to have entered the pantheon of places that stand as metaphors. Ferguson’s symbolism now sits alongside Selma’s significance in the civil rights movement, Columbine as a symbol of teenage rage and gun violence, and Kent State’s historic link to anti-war protests. Those are places that have adjusted — some more smoothly than others — to their emblematic meaning.
In each case, the Meaning Factory is the national media, creating contemporary American history out of isolated community shootings. Longtime residents of Ferguson are resisting the idea that their town is synonymous with violent racism, wearing "I Love Ferguson" T-shirts, and so on, but they're apparently going to lose to the "social justice" movement that is being born:
As some townspeople purchased Ferguson paraphernalia to show their civic pride, local social activists adopted the city’s name, too, calling themselves “Ferguson protesters.” [Chris] King, the newspaper editor, said he began to classify the protesters that way as well, even if he knew they were actually from the city of St. Louis. To King, the word “Ferguson” had come to signify a “social justice movement.”
....“In Ferguson, it wasn’t just something done to them. Local people rose up in protest,” [Dave] Cullen said. “It wasn’t just a tragedy — it’s a mixture of a tragedy and an empowering moment.”
Leftists are always "social activists" or "civil rights activists," which is the easiest way to know you're reading a liberal newspaper that's terrible at hiding it.
Thompson concluded that just as Kent State "brought on a fresh wave of antiwar activism" -- there she goes again with the un-labeling -- Ferguson could redeem itself from racism just like Selma, if there's enough "progressive" victory. Thompson can't distinguish between Martin Luther King and Al Sharpton:
Both Ferguson residents and those who care about the months-long protest movement there can hope for a respectable end. There is still time to shape the full meaning of Ferguson.
Think about Selma, a small town in Alabama that was central to the cause of nonviolent civil rights protesters in the 1960s. The town is so linked with the movement that a movie coming to theaters next month is simply titled “Selma.” The film tells the story of the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, led by Martin Luther King Jr. They were critical to the future of the civil rights movement and came to define the place.
The resistance to civil rights was once Selma’s shame. Now it is home to museums and memorials chronicling the 1960s movement for racial equality.
It’s possible that Ferguson could someday experience a transformation like Selma’s.