Bad Apples in Ferguson
Given the fact that the Jim Crow media are dominated by the POVs of middle and upper-class whites, mostly males, it was no surprise that most of the commentary and reporting about Ferguson was managed by people who never experienced racial profiling. People like CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin, Harvard graduate and Harvard married, who has said that the charges of prosecutorial misconduct are ridiculous. Another know-it-all-nik named Marc Fernich, appearing on Al Jazeera on August 24,2014 called “preposterous,” a claim made by the St.Louis NAACP head, Adolphus Prultt, 2nd, that the police occupation of Ferguson was similar to how Palestinians had been greeted by the forces of occupation. He was unaware that Palestinians were sending advice to the residents of Ferguson about how to handle tear gas. Palestinian writer, Amer Zahr, in his article, August 17th,” BEING BLACK, BEING PALESTINIAN wrote “It is hard for me to see Ferguson through anything other than Palestinian eyes.
“The killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, as he was unarmed and reportedly surrendering, has triggered protests in Missouri against aggressive police action. The protests have been met, quite expectedly, with aggressive police action. This aggressive police action will be met with more protests and on and on we go. Sound familiar?
“The similarities between Ferguson and Palestine are stark. Shared experiences, sentiments, and anger abound. As it turns out, being black here and being Palestinian over there aren’t really that different.”
The smarmy Joe Klein waded in for Time about how black culture was responsible for the death of Michael Brown. He used the same argument in New York magazine May 7,1989 that was typically lengthy and pompous piece about the Central Park Five. All about our morals from a man who lied about his authorship of “Primary Colors.” Of course, the five were innocent. Is there such a thing in journalism as plagiarizing oneself and getting paid by an organization like Time for engaging in this practice, repeatedly? No wonder FAIR calls Klein, “the media spokesperson for white people,” well he’s not quite white to young whites, who, according to The New York Times article about how the American Nazis are recruiting them. Klein is the guy who claimed, recently, and unopposed, that black men were responsible for the country’s rape problem. Black girls get raped by their mother’s boyfriends according to him. Tell that to the white co-eds who are raped by white men in college on a regular basis. Black men aren’t in college. They’re in jail.
We can’t get Joe to comment on the domestic violence against Jewish women in the United States and Israel. He’s part of the cover-up. How about a lengthy piece about this problem for New York magazine?
Predictably, just as the media were stenographers for the Pentagon during the Iraq war, they, like Marc Fernich, behaved as a sort of a press agent for Ferguson law enforcement and a cheering section for Darren Wilson, who might have shot an unarmed Michael Brown twelve times. The media concentrated on the violence committed by a few, who were present in the mostly peaceful demonstrations and not on the violence of the police, who putout a lower case tonkin gulf propaganda spiel, which the media also fell for. All about Molotov cocktails provoking them into action. Three black ministers who were present where one Molotov cocktail incident was supposed to have taken place said that they didn’t see any. This gave the police, which was armed as though they were in Afghanistan, to assault men women and children with tear gas, while calling them “niggers.” Those who called 911 to report Michael Brown’s death, his body being allowed to lie in the sun for four hours (to show what happens when you fuck with the police), said that the dispatchers called them monkeys.
Fox News, Goebbels America, picked up a rumor about Wilson having his eye socket damaged by Brown. This lie was repeated by the Zimmerman/Wilson network, CNN. Their regular, Mark O’Mara, the character who lied about Trayvon Martin’s past and threatened the white women on the jury with the specter of black rape if they didn’t vote for an acquittal of Zimmerman. You could understand why some of the media would support Wilson, but The New York Times, whose editorial page, except for Paul Krugman, and Ishmael Reed from time to time, reads like a Tea Party Rally, was reprimanded twice by its Public Editor for behaving as a kind of pro bono defense counsel for Darren Wilson. First, Lawrence O’Donnell found support from the public editor of the Times when he accused the Times of floating a misleading line in its efforts to keep the right wing among its readership happy. O’Donnell said the Time’s report that there were “sharply” different versions among those who witnessed the shooting was false. In one front page Time’s story the murderer was called “well-mannered…soft-spoken…a good kid “while Michael Brown, who never killed anybody was “a teenager grappling with problems and promise.” When a cop killed Oscar Grant out here, a local paper called the cop, “a gentle giant.” Next the Times got into trouble when a black reporter wrote that Michael Brown “was no angel.” Answering “the storm” of protests that followed his comment, Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan wrote in a post on Monday afternoon that the “no angel” term was “an ill-chosen phrase”: “In my view, the timing of the article (on the day of Mr. Brown’s funeral) was not ideal. Its pairing with a profile of Mr. Wilson seemed to inappropriately equate the two people. And “no angel” was a blunder,” Sullivan wrote.
Sullivan also interviewed the reporter who wrote the article, John Eligon, who said he agrees “no angel” was a poor choice of words. Eligon also said he pressed editors on another part of the article that’s drawn criticism – Brown’s interest in rap.
I tried to weigh in as someone who has experienced racial profiling, most recently when walking with my companion in the historic Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. The people in the cemetery office called the police. They got there promptly. We had a hard time getting them to solve the drug traffic in our neighborhoods. Sometimes they didn’t even show up. Elderly members at our Crime Council meetings question, regularly, why the police are so chummy with the drug dealers. Wonder why. But they showed up about five minutes after I entered the cemetery. Maybe I was going to rob some graves? The Oakland police run the city. Though racial profiling is rampant, The East Bay Express has accused the current crop of mayoral candidates of supporting racial profiling. That’s because they brought police Chief Bratton out here to advise them on “stop and frisk,” and paid him a $200,000 consultant fee.
The Times told me that they had enough comments about Ferguson. The majority was written by white men. The police show them their Dr.Jekyll side. We get Mr. Hyde. These commentators are the ones who put out the lie that only a few bad apples in police departments are responsible for racial profiling; thirty police were involved in a scandal in Harlem Precinct in the 1990s.
I wanted to challenge the media’s use of polls to show that the issue of police brutality reflected disagreements between whites and blacks, when the police kill and beat the shit of Hispanics and Native Americans as well. Do the pollsters exclude the view of other ethnic and religious minorities like the Muslims who were spied upon by the notorious NYPD, because including them would challenge the views of their white readers and viewers? The people that Jeff Zuker of CNN and Comcast of MSNBC and Rush Limbaugh of Bain Capital’s Clear Channel wish to woo. The people whom they depend upon to buy their shiny gas guzzlers and Viagra. Are the media again protecting whites from the charge that they’re ignorant of what’s happening between the police, to whom they give carte blanche to handle minorities anyway they wish, and the black Hispanic and Native Americans men and women who get murdered by the police on a regular basis. Unlike the toned down types, the black college professors whom MSNBC use to avoid paying full-time professional journalists like Michel Martin, black commentators like Earl Ofari Hutchinson and Brooklyn-born rapper Talib Kweli were able to give a different account of what happened in Ferguson.
Davey D’s on KPFA’s “Hard Knock Radio,” and Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” had the best coverage because they aren’t beholden to media bosses to provide them with expense accounts and car. They interviewed people from the community and activists whose accounts on the ground were different from the accounts given by the police and the police friendly media. One woman told Amy Goodman that the Ferguson police broke down their apartment door and put 9 millimeter guns against her children’s heads because one of the kids didn’t tell his mother that he had received a citation for the theft of a Snicker’s bar. The three 10,11, and 12 spent thirty days in jail, while the criminals at Bank of America and Wells Fargo get to negotiate their fines. She said that her mother had warned her that the Ferguson police was a KKK outfit.
It took Davey D, Rose Clemente and Atty. John Burris to connect the police killings of Hispanics to that of blacks, which was ignored by the mainstream media.
After my Wednesday Aug.20th swim at the Berkeley YMCA, I ran into a retired 83 year old Hispanic judge. The situation in Ferguson came up. He said that there had been clashes in East L.A. between the police and Hispanics over police shootings.
On Thursday, Aug.21, Civil Rights Atty. John Burris, appearing on KPFA’s “Letters and Politics,” said there had been four shootings of Hispanics by Salinas, California’s police since March. In one case, a Hispanic man, Carlos Mejia, was attempting to solicit some gardening work. According to Burris, he carried the gardening shears in his hand. Someone called the police. The police shot him when he turned toward them after walking away. The video is eerily similar to the Michael Brown. After this May 20,2014 shooting, Hispanic demonstrators protested. Some threw rocks and bottles at the police.
On August 27,even Joy Reid, one of the best commentators, said that police shootings of black men represented a Racial Divide between blacks and whites and that it wasn’t of concern for other minorities. She should travel west of the Rockies from time to time or is she just following the memos from higher ups?
Predictably, Jeff Zucker’s CNN even rushed on a Town Meeting about a rating driven Black and White divide. No Hispanics appeared on the panel even though the police have used lethal against them as well. Apparently nuance doesn’t draw ratings. Native Americans have issues with police brutality as well. Joy Reid should read the online Native American news service, Indian Country, from time to time. But for the men who own and whose POVs dominate the media, we lie.
One of the origins of the term “Indian Summer,” is that Indians lie so much that an Indian Summer is a false summer.
One could conclude that since the word of whites has more credibility, historically, than that of blacks, not to include the testimony by Hispanics, Native Americans and Muslims about their sometimes terrifying encounters with the police is to isolate blacks and cast them as unreasonable malcontents. Paranoid even and whining about “victimization,”and set up for a mismatch.
Finally, E.J.Dionne and Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post discussed one of those White/Black polls on MSNBC.
You can understand why the regular pundits and their producers like Jeff Zucker might want to stage an opinion UFC match between Blacks and Whites for the entertainment of their viewers, but that these men of intellectual heft would cling to an outmoded model for race relations is depressing. The United States is no longer just Black and White.
1 Pacifica’s Mitch Jeserich hosts “Letters & Politics,” a look at burning political issues and debates, and their historical context, within the US and worldwide.(Burris interview was aired).
copyrigh© 2014 Ishmael Reed