Poetic Truth

I didn’t want to let Jason L. Riley’s Wall Street Journal column on Amazon’s reluctance to host Shelby Steele’s documentary on the death of Michael Brown (remember Ferguson?) get away without comment:

In an interview this week, Mr. Steele, who is based at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, explained the significance of Brown’s death and what it tells us about race relations today. “Michael Brown represented, even more so than Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray and others, the distortion of truth, of reality,” he said. Mr. Steele added that when it comes to racial controversies, liberals have developed what he calls a “poetic truth,” which may be at complete odds with objective truth but nevertheless helps them advance a desirable narrative. In the case of Michael Brown, reality was turned on its head.

“It was almost absolute,” Mr. Steele said. “The language—he was ‘executed,’ he was ‘assassinated,’ ‘hands up, don’t shoot’—it was a stunning example of poetic truth, of the lies that a society can entertain in pursuit of power.” Despite ample forensic evidence, the grand-jury reports and the multiple Justice Department investigations clearing the police officer of any wrongdoing, “there are blacks today, right now in Ferguson, as I point out in the film, who still truly believe that Michael Brown was killed out of racial animus,” he said. “In a microcosm, that’s where race relations are today. The truth has no chance. It’s smothered by the politics of victimization.”

So, here’s my question. Is Amazon’s reluctance to stream the documentary on Amazon Prime because it is a lie, because it is the truth, or because Amazon’s management does not want the company to be laid open to negative commentary on social media? I think the answer is important.

I wish I were a optimistic as Dr. Steele:

Yet Mr. Steele sees a better future, and the interviews highlighted in “What Killed Michael Brown?” help to explain his optimism. One of the film’s strong suits is showcasing the words and deeds of everyday community leaders in places like Ferguson, St. Louis and Chicago. These people are far more focused on black self-development than on badgering whites or blaming society for problems in poor black communities. They understand and accept objective truth but mostly toil in obscurity while liberal billionaires cut million-dollar checks to subsidize Black Lives Matter activism and antiracism gibberish from “woke” academics.

“It’s easy to say, ‘The white man, the white man,’ and point the finger,” says a pastor in the film whose church is located in one of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods. “In reality, we have to take a very close look at ourselves.” His focus is on “the transformation of the person. And we’re telling them, hey, educationally, you gotta get it together. Economically, you gotta get it together. Family and spiritually, you gotta get it together. And you have to take responsibility.”

It’s a lot easier to get people’s votes by telling them that all of their problems are due to somebody or something else than by telling them that their problems can’t be solved without their changing their own behavior. And I suspect that the entirety of the objectives of “Critical Race Theory” are money and power and, even if we were to do everything that its advocates propose, it would not improve the lives of those who are being injured by “systemic racism” materially.

4 comments… add one
  • Andy Link

    With all that’s going on, I don’t see how it’s possible to discount the fear of criticism by activists, but it’s probably not the only factor.

  • Greyshambler Link

    Vast majority of Blacks believe it was a racist police murder, and 50% of whites.
    Amazon doesn’t see any upside in challenging an article of faith.

  • steve Link

    “They understand and accept objective truth ”

    Is there such a thing? (Outside of some of the sciences?) When someone says something like this I assume they are pushing a point of view, especially a politically based film maker. I think he is perfectly welcome to make propaganda he just cant expect anyone to broadcast it.


  • Grey Shambler Link

    So if people feel, believe, subjectively that Brown was deliberately murdered by a racist
    Cop, that’s valid. It makes it true.
    I want to play this game too.

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