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Why I Am a Jerk: Micah Johnson, Josh Marshall, and Charles Pierce

I normally keep my head down on the Internet but recently I’ve been a near-troll-y jerk on the subject of what I see as inaccurate/misleading liberal media presentation of Trump statements on anti-Semitism and racism.

Long story short, I think Trump has the white racist bloc sewn up and he doesn’t need to dogwhistle it.  His opponents in the media, on the other hand, are desperate to attribute overtly racist actions to him where they don’t really exist in order to keep the focus on discrediting Trump & preventing him from gaining political traction.

One case in point the “Red Star Over Trump” brouhaha over the purported Star of David slur.

Second case in point: the “No one ever called for a moment of silence for Micah Johnson” attack.

This meme is much beloved by Josh Marshall and Charles Pierce.  Jeet Heer approvingly retweeted Marshall’s article.

Under the headline, A Propagator of Race Hatred and Violence, Marshall wrote:

Trump claimed that people – “some people” – called for a moment of silence for mass killer Micah Johnson, the now deceased mass shooter who killed five police officers in Dallas on Thursday night.

There is no evidence this ever happened.

Bold in original, btw.

Charles Pierce at Esquire:

This Isn’t Funny.  American Democracy Is at Stake.  Anyone who supports Donald Trump is a traitor to the American ideal.

This is what he said on the stump in Indiana on Wednesday…

“The other night you had 11 cities potentially in a blow-up stage. Marches all over the United States—and tough marches. Anger. Hatred. Hatred! Started by a maniac! And some people ask for a moment of silence for him. For the killer!”

To be blunt, this didn’t happen. [my bolding this time]

There is no evidence from any news source that this happened. By anyone. Anywhere. Nobody can find anyone who “called for a moment of silence” for the mass killer of policemen.

Utter bollocks as you might expect.  Marshall and Pierce, two middle-aged or worse white fellows (like myself) do not have a total lock on the attitudes of every black American.  Only an ass would pre-emptively make that kind of statement.  Or, as George Galloway sometimes puts it, three cheeks of the same ass.

If you go to facebook and search “Micah Johnson moment of silence” and wade through the avalanche of posts on Charles Pierce’s article, you find…some people calling for a moment of silence for Micah Johnson.  Black people.  Nice people.  Anguished, conflicted people.

Couple examples:

“I have 17 yr old African American male n also a 10 yr old male, with that in for-front of my mind, I must take moment of sencere silence for Mr Johnson Family. ”

“Plz take a moment of silence….for the late Mr.Micah Xavier JOHNSON”

One additional individual was quickly identified and contacted by ABC News.  In response, he posted a video statement on his facebook page as to why he thought the call was justified that I found dignified, sober, and compassionate.

I won’t give his name.  He’s already received death threats, of course.  But you can find it easily enough.

As to whether this represents the sum total of personal expression on the Internet, bear in mind the police have arrested individuals in multiple jurisdictions—Detroit, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Illinois—for making threatening statements concerning cops, as the Intercept reported:

Last weekend in Connecticut, police arrested Kurt Vanzuuk after a tip for posts on Facebook that identified Johnson as a hero and called for police to be killed. He was charged with inciting injury to persons or property.

I, well, trolled Marshall and Jeet Heer about this and, unsurprisingly, received dismissive replies that skated past the insistence that no such statements had been made to declarations that the statements were insignificant.

Let us wave a fond adieu to the motorized goal posts as they disappear over the horizon.

From Charles Pierce, nada.

Not too surprising, perhaps.  He had keystoned his column on the predicate that Trump was lying America into a race war:

Not until Wednesday did we realize the true magnitude of the threat that this reckless clown poses to American democracy. Not until Wednesday did we hear clearly the echoes of shiny black boots on German cobblestones.

Well, ahem.

I personally hear some black-booty clippety-clop when somebody uses an untruth—Hey, a Big Lie! There’s catchy phrase!—to accuse people of “treason” not even to the government of the United States but to some ill-defined abstraction called “the American ideal”.  Notify Hegel!  Page Godwin!  Cue the Volksturm!

But politics ain’t beanbag, right?  Marshall & Pierce hate Trump, love Hills, all’s fair etc. etc.

So why should I care that a few Big Journo practitioners streeeeeeeeeeeeetched it just a tad.  Going after Trump’s a virtuous crusade, right?

I’m not a Trumper, for goodness sakes, something I have to assert with monotonous regularity.

Well, what bugs me is the campaign to twist the truth to serve a narrative.

The narrative, in this case, is that through the efforts of President Obama and the Democratic Party, the Gordian knot of US race relations has been untied: the system works, people of color have effective channels to address their grievances, and Micah Johnson was a PTSD-addled, panty-stealing freak whose delusional descent into violence had nothing to do with the condition of African Americans in this country.

Well, bullsh*t.

Pro-active/pre-emptive policing against young men, disproportionately young men of color, is the bedrock of police policy in this country.  Philandro Castile, as has been widely, reported was stopped 52 times in his short life for a laundry list of minor infractions.  I’m 60 and I’ve been stopped once for playing with my earhair and leading a cop to suspect I was violating the newly-minted ordinance against using a cell phone while driving.

I’m guessing Philandro Castile died because he incorrectly assumed that he was enduring just one more harassing traffic stop, when actually he was dealing for once with a freaked out cop looking for an armed robber, who lost it when Castile told him he “had a gun”…licensed, in the glove box.

And lots of cops are freaked.  In addition to going after people who say the wrong thing on facebook, there’s “Police nationwide order officers to ride in pairs after Dallas police ambush” as the Washington Post put it.

There’s real anger and real fear on both sides.  Trump is sticking his finger in a raw wound.

Expressing dignified grief for the Dallas Police Department, by all accounts one of the “better” police departments when it comes to blending pro-active and “community” policing, does not seem to do a lot to address the core issue: the serial assaults on dignity, safety, and human life, especially for people of color, by current policing practices.

I will grant that anybody who takes an automatic rifle and shoots up 11 police officers, killing 5, is a criminal and probably had serious mental issues.

But denying the fact that people might pity him, sympathize with him, even if they don’t emulate him is delusional.

I too think we should have had a moment of silence for Micah Johnson.  A moment of anger, of compassion, of understanding, of self-reflection that one man’s warped response to warped policing practices had caused him to commit a terrible crime.

I think that acknowledging that would have been a positive step in defusing the justifiable anger over American policing.  I think it’s sad and dangerous that America lacked the will and courage to do that, and defaulted to wishful thinking and full-court press media management instead.  Although I think it would take something close to a social revolution to change the relationship between the police, the poor, the people of color, and the well-off.

It didn’t happen, and that didn’t please everybody. There’s angry cops & p*ssed off people of color.

Trump recognized the issue while dismissing it with the assertion that Johnson was “a maniac” who didn’t deserve a moment of silence and ignoring the roots of the crisis with the standard Republican “I’m the law and order candidate” pandering.

Democrats tried to ignore the issue, and when that didn’t work, they resorted to empty indignation and untruths.

I think that’s wrong and dangerous.  It does not honor the victims and it doesn’t solve the problem.

I think people who take that tack out of political expediency just to try to nail Trump should be called on it.

That’s why I’m a jerk.

More articles by:

Peter Lee edits China Matters and writes about Asia for CounterPunch.  

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