Part 2—Chris Hedges invents a fact: What you are about to read appears in the new Salon, this morning.
It was written by a Stanford professor—more precisely, by “the Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor at Stanford University.” Below, you see the opening paragraph of this gruesome professor’s gruesome attempt at analysis:
PALUMBO-LIU (7/21/15): I have been late getting to David Brooks’ column on Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates While White.” I was absorbed by the case of Sandra Bland, the young black woman who was found dead in a Texas jail cell, supposedly by her own hand. For many, this seems highly implausible, given the fact that she had just landed her dream job at her alma mater and had displayed no signs of depression or poor health, except for the arm that was likely broken or fractured during her arrest. So the thought Bland would or even could kill herself seems incredible.According to the horrific David Palumbo-Liu, the late Sandra Bland “had displayed no signs of depression.” On that basis, “the thought Bland would or even could kill herself seems incredible,” the professor thoughtfully writes.
Professor Palumbo-Liu is a modern horror show—a type of show which now afflicts readers of pseudo-progressive sites like the new Salon. Our professor goes on to rail against Brooks’ recent column—a column which, in our view, was heavily underwhelming.
The professor is useless throughout. But good God! He started with that statement about the late Sandra Bland. In it, he explicitly says that she “had displayed no signs of depression.”
Our lizard brains will thrash and flail, seeking ways to make the professor’s statement turn out to be technically accurate. That said, this professor is a very bad person, of an increasingly familiar kind.
The Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor is a gruesome artifact of our own pseudo-progressive tribe. He represents the current movement in which our tribe invents, embellishes and disappears facts so we can present our tribally-preferred, impressively dick-grabbing stories—the stories we love to hear.
Did Sandra Bland take her own life? Like our horrific professor, we have no way of knowing. But everyone from the AP on down has reported her self-reported battle with depression and PTSD.
These reports began appearing at least five days ago. For links to the news reports in question, see yesterday afternoon’s post.
Everyone from the AP on down has reported Bland’s Facebook posts, in which she discussed her depression. Everyone but the new Salon, where our progressive brains are routinely shielded from such undesirable facts.
Beyond that, these facts don’t seem to have penetrated The Farm, where the Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor tugs his member and tells us the stories he likes.
This professor has been a nightmare at the new Salon before; he’ll be a nightmare there again. But make no mistake:
In such ways, our haughty intellectual leaders been doing a strong imitation of those old demons, Rush and Sean. Again and again, the evidence is unmistakable:
Despite our endless claims to the contrary, We are truly a great deal like Them, at least within the aeries of our “intellectual leaders.”
The professor has misled progressives today. Then again, so did the apparently slippery Chris Hedges, in a recent book event broadcast on C-Span.
Question: What sort of peril do black citizens face from misconduct by police? This topic, which was ignored forever, has come front and center in the past several years.
In the event broadcast on C-Span, Hedges was discussing his new book, Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt. To watch the whole session, click here.
For what it’s with, we largely agree with Hedges’ politics and world view, to the extent that we understand them. We only disagree with his ridiculous name-dropping, with his ghastly air of self-importance, and with his apparent belief that his obvious moral greatness allows him to dream up and disappear facts.
At about the fifteen-minute mark of the C-Span videotape, Hedges warns his audience about the perils of climate change, which are real, of course. Then, he proceeded to this:
HEDGES (5/6/15): These are the death throes of the planet. And corporate forces exploit until there’s nothing left.Few people would doubt this fiery fellow’s moral greatness. On the other hand, we were fairly sure that his fuzzy claim, the one we’ve highlighted, was wrong.
In theological terms, in many ways they are forces of death, quite literally, when we talk about those forces vis-a-vis climate change. That’s the reality that we face. That is the political, the economic, the environmental reality that we are up against.
And the capacity of the state to control the citizen, to monitor the citizen, to use lethal force against unarmed citizens. And all of the marches by Black Lives Matter, all of the coverage, all of the videos that show us the murder, by militarized police forces, of unarmed citizens, do nothing.
The numbers of citizens keep being killed. Every 28 hours, usually, a young man or woman of color is murdered, unarmed, in this country.
And so, how do we react? How do we resist? What does it take and what will the state do? That’s what I tried to look at in the book, Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt.
What’s “fuzzy” about that claim? According to Hedges, “every 28 hours, usually,” a young man or woman of color is murdered, unarmed, in this country. Given the context of his full statement, Hedges made it sound like these almost daily “murders” are committed by police.
Every 28 hours, usually? We’re sorry, but that construction doesn’t make sense. And Hedges, who is technically bright, is certainly able to grasp that.
That said, how accurate is Hedges’ apparent overall claim? How frequently are young people of color “murdered,” or even killed, by police? How frequently are such people unarmed?
Below, we’ll link you to the original source of Hedges’ claim. In the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death last year, that original source was debunked by several major fact-checking sites.
In the statement he made at his recent book event, Hedges was actually embellishing the original claim, which had long since been debunked. But so it goes when our fiery leaders get a moral snootful.
How frequently are people of color killed by police? How frequently are they unarmed? It’s hard to form a perfect answer to such questions, but the Washington Post’s new site about police shootings may suggest a general answer to those important questions.
According to the Post’s new site, 531 people have been shot and killed by police so far this year. The Post presents these numbers about the race and ethnicity of the deceased:
People shot and killed by police this yearThat’s a lot of people. By the norms of the developed world, it’s an astonishing number. But then, as is widely noted, our society is “awash in guns.”
What is the race and ethnicity of the deceased? If we’re talking whites and blacks, roughly twice as many whites have been shot and killed by police this year. If we’re talking “people of color,” the total is at least 215 and may go up from there.
That’s a lot of people! On average, several people are shot and killed by police on a daily basis. On average, more than one person of color has been killed on a daily basis this year. The daily average is somewhat higher for whites.
That’s a lot of people being shot and killed by police! But in his obvious moral greatness, Hedges didn’t say that people were being killed by police. He said young people—young people who were unarmed—were being murdered by police.
Every 28 hours!
We hate to be a buzzkill for Hedges, whose name-dropping and self-glorification suffuse his C-Span event. But according to the Post’s research, the vast majority of the people in question were not unarmed when they were shot and killed by police.
(Nor is it clear that they were “young.” That’s a subjective assessment, of course, but the roll call of shooting victims doesn't skew enormously young.)
Our society is awash in guns. This is a fact we all understand until our pseudo-progressive stars start spewing their bogus facts to animate the stories we love and to heighten our sense of tribal greatness.
The research by the Washington Post can always be wrong. But according to the Post, the vast majority of people shot and killed by police this year were in fact bearing deadly weapons:
People shot and killed by police this yearAccording to the Post’s research, the vast majority were armed. Unless you listen to Hedges, who is still offering an embellished version of a claim which was widely debunked last year.
Deadly weapon 445
Toy weapon 19
For many years, liberals complained about the dissembling of people like Rush and Sean. During much of that time, the liberal world was largely asleep in the woods, uttering tiny peeps while Rush and Sean marauded.
In the past decade, the liberal and progressive worlds have emerged from that long slumber. As we wiped the sleep from our eyes, it turned out that we seem to love inventing, embellishing and disappearing our tribal facts too!
Our “intellectual leaders” do this sort of thing again and again and again. In the process, they get us very upset.
We’re inclined to regard them as very bad people. Do we really believe this helps?
Tomorrow: At the new Salon, a very famous case
Hedges keep jumping the moon: What is the actual state of affairs concerning police shootings? You might think questions like that were important, until you watched Hedges at work.
On May 30, Hedges did an interview on C-Span in which he took another shot at the question. On that occasion, he said this to C-Span’s long-suffering Peter Slen:
HEDGES (5/30/15): We live in a country where almost every 28 hours an African-American man or woman is shot dead, lethal force. They’re usually unarmed. We have videos of our police actually murdering unarmed civilians and yet, despite the outcry, it continues.This time, it was “almost every 28 hours.” Again, Hedges suggested, but didn’t say, that these killings were done by police.
They’re effective in this sense. They expose the myth, or the lying, the state uses to explain itself to the public.
On this occasion, the people shot dead were usually unarmed. They weren’t necessarily young.
A few days later, Hedges stated his fact a third way. On this occasion, he was being interviewed by the new Salon:
SALON (6/4/15): Is there a revolutionary consciousness building in America?How often are people of color killed by the police? How often are such people unarmed?
HEDGES: Well, it is definitely building. But until there is an ideological framework that large numbers of people embrace to challenge the old ideological framework, nothing is going to happen. Some things can happen; you can have sporadic uprisings as you had in Ferguson or you had in Baltimore. But until they are infused with that kind of political vision, they are reactive, in essence.
So you have, every 28 hours, a person of color, usually a poor person of color, being killed with lethal force—and, of course, in most of these cases they are unarmed. So people march in the streets and people protest, and yet the killings don’t stop, even when they are captured on video. I mean we have videos of people being murdered by the police and the police walk away. This is symptomatic of a state that is ossified and can no longer respond rationally to what is happening to the citizenry, because it exclusively serves the interest of corporate power.
By now, Hedges had stated his fact two or three different ways. But he always cited a time frame of 28 hours.
Alas! Hedges seemed to be working from a study which was widely debunked last year. Last December, Michelle Ye Hee Lee examined the study’s central claim for the Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog. In the course of her piece, she linked to a previous fact-check by the Politifact site.
Politifact had done its work in August 2014, in response to a mistaken claim by CNN’s Marc Lamont Hill. To his credit, Hill acknowledged that he had overstated the facts after Politifact’s fact-check.
We liberals hated this sort of thing when it was done by Rush and Sean. We seem to love it when it’s done by our own professors.
Bland had displayed no signs of depression! An unarmed young person of color is murdered by the police every 28 hours!
Our “leaders” can keep this up all day. Do we think this helps?