Ferguson, Missouri: Another “Al Sharpton Is Right” Moment for National Review?


Ferguson, Missouri: Another “Al Sharpton Is Right” Moment for National Review?

“Gentle Giant” And “Unarmed Teen” Michael Brown, Photographed During An Unarmed Robbery

Those who have read back issues of National Review realize that it once really was an anti-Establishment magazine that “stood athwart history.” In 1977, for example, William F. Buckley actually urged in its pages that the surging wave of (black) crime—specifically the looting that took place during the 1977 New York Blackout—be met with (1) more prisons; (2) trying fatherless “teens” as adults; (3) impeaching liberal judges—which (except, alas, for the last) was done.[Thoughts About Crime , August 14, 1977] But National Review long ago decided it wanted to be a “once conservative, now respected” publication. Much like Sen. Rand Paul, NR seeks to carve out a few niche conservative issues (tax cuts, defense spending, pro-life, support for Israel) while conceding the Left’s narrative on racial and social issues—even if that means always blaming the historic American nation first and aligning with Al Sharpton rather than Pat Buchanan.

A perfect specimen of the new National Review—and indeed, the new Conservatism Inc. apparatchik—is Editor Rich Lowry. In the wake of early reporting of the Trayvon Martin case, Lowry wrote a column with the telling title of “Al Sharpton is Right.” [March 23, 2012] The piece is simply a restatement of the media lies and half-truths that painted Martin as the victim of a “racist” neighborhood watchman.

Lowry was not removed from his position for this ridiculous article. In fact, he would fire John Derbyshire a few months later for challenging America’s usual racial narrative (whites always the racists/blacks always the victims in any racial conflict).

It is not just Lowry who supports this Leftist narrative on race. NR has a whole cohort of writers such as Jason Lee Steorts and Michael Potemra who completely accept the Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson view of American race relations.(See Steorts on Derbyshire, Django Unchained, and “profiling”, Potemra on Fred Reed— who he refused to link to. )

A decade ago, Paul Gottfried quipped that we might one day view Jonah Goldberg as the most authentic voice of conservatism at National Review. It appears his joke has become the truth.

In the wake of the Ferguson riots, National Review has again shown it is no threat to racial orthodoxy. In a piece titled The Right’s Wrong Reaction to the Missouri Shooting, Charles C.W. Cooke lectures anyone who thinks the cops might have been justified in shooting an “unarmed teen,” 18-year-old Michael Brown. After a few boilerplate remarks deploring the rioting and urging all to wait for the facts of the case to come out, Cooke gets down to his main point: hectoring white conservatives.

Alas, far too many conservatives have today taken a different road, responding to the news instead by insistently and smugly repeating a non sequitur. ‘Well,’ these types have inquired on Twitter and beyond, ‘what about black on black violence, huh?’ Distilled into its purest form, this request boils down to a scoff: ‘Why, pray, are the people of Ferguson so worried about this unlovely episode, when almost 500 black Americans die at the hands of other black Americans every month?’

Can it be any surprise that many black voters believe conservatives are deaf to their concerns when ‘this cop shot my unarmed son!’ is met by so many with ‘but there are lots of citizen murders in this city; let’s talk about that instead’”?

Even if the United States did not boast a history in which blacks were routinely disfavored, beaten, and even murdered by the governments that were ostensibly established to protect them, there would still be something distinct about being killed or hurt by a man in uniform. No, you are no less dead if your neighbor murders you. But you do enjoy a different relationship with him — and it matters.”

[August 11, 2014]

In a common hopeful sign, about 80 percent of the over 1400 commenters were not having Cooke’s P.C. lecture.

“Whew! I was worried for a moment that no one at NRO would take this occasion to lecture “conservatives” on their racial insensitivity.”

“The stiff being black is the only thing that matters. No one would care if it were a white victim. Certainly, no one would riot. Finally, no one would come up with excuses for perfect strangers destroying businesses and stealing things if more pastily complected.”

“Can anyone recall a situation where some white kid was killed (by any means) and a bunch of white people got together, rioted, looted, and burned down businesses that had absolutely nothing to do with the kid getting killed?

“I think what you are missing, Mr. Cooke, is this. The only time blacks get upset when a black gets killed is if he’s killed by a non-black.”

As the facts roll in however, it looks like this is yet another racial incident where the black victim was in fact the perpetrator a la Trayvon Martin, Rodney King, Tawana Brawley and the Duke Lacrosse hoax.

Michael Brown was the suspect in a robbery and assault (apparently there is video) that had taken place earlier in the morning and his Facebook page shows him flashing gang signs. The 18-year-old 300lb Brown (the media are calling him a ‘gentle giant’) already had a rap sheet for assault and burglary.

The main witness who the media and rioters were relying on—Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson—is also a suspect in the robbery. Johnson had said Brown was shot for merely walking down the street and had his hands up.

The police version of events is that Brown was shot after an officer approached him on the street during a routine patrol. Brown pushed the cop into his squad car, assaulted him and tried to take the officer’s weapon. [Police: Teen shot by cop suspect in recent robbery, By David A. Lieb and Alan Scher Zagier, Associated Press, August 15, 2014]

The officer in question is a six-year veteran with a spotless record.

Yet according to National Review, defending a black gang banger who attacks cops after robbing and beating innocent people is now a conservative position.

In contrast, Rush Limbaugh spent the bulk of his Friday program deconstructing the accepted narrative of the event and calmly providing the facts of the case. He took the media, black race activists and rioters to task. He mocked the press for calling Brown “a gentle giant” and even took a swipe at Rand Paul (who, not surprisingly, took the side of the black rioters) for worrying about the “militarization of the police.” [The Ferguson, Missouri Story: Drive-By Politicians, Drive-By Agitators and Drive-By Media Attempting to Cash in on Narratives, August 15, 2014]

In other words, much like Buckley and NR in the 1970s, Rush stood up to the Leftist narrative by simply presenting the facts of the case.

But this is too much to ask of the flagship publication of the American Right.

Perhaps the phrase “Al Sharpton is Right” should be placed on its masthead.

Peter Bradley [Email him] writes from northern Virginia.