“Grand juries that routinely fail to indict killer cops become paragons of justice and virtue in King’s mind when manipulated to indict Russians.”
Shaun King is an activist in a bubble, hobbled by a shrunken worldview that makes him an ally of the same forces of racial and economic repression he purports to oppose.
The stunted nature of King’s politics was laid bare in a July 18 article in The Intercept. He had just seen President Trump “willfully dodge and deny the overwhelming evidence that Russia tried to intervene in the 2016 election.” Trump had shirked “his responsibilities as president” and “sided with Putin,” in King’s view, by “saying he could see ‘no reason’ why Russia would ever do such a thing.” Worst of all, “When asked whether he trusted his own intelligence agencies or Putin,” Trump rambled incoherently about Hillary Clinton’s email servers.It was possibly “the lowest moment of any presidential press conference in modern American history,” King wrote. That Trump would “proudly” stand next to his Russian counterpart “just days after 12 government agents from that country were indicted for interfering in our elections and defend that president was a betrayal. Even I felt betrayed.”
“A teachable moment for white people.”
However, the 38-year-old former pastor thinks the episode in Helsinki represents a teachable moment for white people, who are now experiencing the kind of truth-denial by persons in authority that Black Americans have confronted throughout our history in this country. “To be black in America,” wrote King, “is to constantly be told that what you know — the facts you’ve actually experienced, the life you’ve actually lived, and all of the pain and problems and injustice that comes with that life — only matters when a white person in authority says so.”
King harkened back to his initiation into activism, as a student at Morehouse in 1999. The murder of Amadou Diallo, cut down in a 41-bullet fusillade by New York City cops, who were subsequently acquitted, taught King that: “Facts be damned. Justice is often administered by the powerful, for the powerful.”
Unfortunately, Shaun King didn’t learn very much, after all. When it comes to the powerful denizens of the FBI and the CIA, or federal special prosecutors, or corporate communications outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC and CNN, King is a true believer -- if the target is Trump or Putin. Grand juries that routinely fail to indict killer cops, even when the murders are caught on video, become paragons of justice and virtue in King’s mind when manipulated to indict Russians. Intelligence agencies that tell galactic lies about non-existent Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction,” setting the stage for the extermination of millions, or whose top spies brazenly (and feloniously) lie to Congress about spying on the entirety of the U.S. population, become vectors of truth when they offer “assessments” -- but no proof, whatsoever -- that Russia “meddled” in the U.S. electoral process.
“When it comes to the powerful denizens of the FBI and the CIA, or federal special prosecutors, or corporate communications outlets, King is a true believer.”
For Shaun King, Trump’s willingness to stand in physical proximity to the leader of the other nuclear superpower while failing to signify “trust” in these same intelligence agencies marks “the lowest moment of any presidential press conference in modern American history” -- lower apparently, in King’s estimation, than George W. Bush’s declaration to the press that his FEMA chief was “doing a helluva job” aiding victims of Katrina, or President Bill Clinton’s press conferences announcing his intention to abolish welfare “as we know it,” or introducing his “anti-crime” bill that would send, literally, millions of African Americans to long terms in prison. King’s activist awakening occurred in 1999, but it seems not to have shocked his moral sensibilities when President Obama named Wall Street operatives Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers to top economic positions, even though these same financial interests had just tanked the global economy and wiped out generations of Black wealth.
King did not believe that presidential press conferences had reached historic low points when Obama stood with national security advisor Susan Rice, the person most intimately involved in the U.S.-sanctioned slaughter of over six million Congolese under presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, the worst genocide since World War Two – that is, the worst bloodbath “in modern American history.” King probably isn’t even aware of the scope of the Congolese genocide, despite his years as a journalist, since the presidents he holds in such relatively high esteem have done all in their power to cover it up with the complicity of the same corporate media that King trusts to inform him on “Russiagate.”
“King probably isn’t even aware of the scope of the Congolese genocide, since the presidents he holds in such relatively high esteem have done all in their power to cover it up.”
Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon’s many press conferences on Vietnam -- replete with lies that led to the deaths of at least three million people -- do not rank nearly as low in King’s historical assessment as his sense of “betrayal” at Trump’s meeting with Putin. This shows where King’s head is at – and where it’s not. King is fully respectful -- in awe, really -- of the legitimacy of the CIA, the assassins of Lumumba and countless other foreign leaders, and the most prolific regime-changers on Earth, and the FBI, the “neutralizers” of COINTELPRO, who assassinated Fred Hampton and who are now working whatever program targets “Black Identity Extremists,” which may or may not include activist Shaun King. When these professional liars, disrupters and regime changers turn their tools on Trump and Putin, their words become golden for King.
King bemoans the fact that white racists only recognize Black perceptions as true “when a white person in authority says so,” yet he accepts the proof-less Russiagate “assessments” of the white people in authority at the CIA and the FBI. That’s strange and contradictory behavior for a self-described “Black Lives Matter” activist. In their platform on issues, the Movement for Black Lives warns that intelligence agencies are not Black people’s friends. “The Edward Snowden leaks in 2013 revealed a vast surveillance apparatus constructed by the FBI and NSA that collects information on everyone in the U.S.,” says the Movement for Black Lives policy statement, under the heading, End the War on Black People. “These leaks popularized the idea that surveillance is happening, but has been largely framed as having a universal impact. The reality is that surveillance has always existed and continues to be concentrated within targeted communities of color namely Black, Arab, and Immigrant; and activists who challenge state and corporate power.”
In other words, the national security state is a greater danger to Black people, person for person, than anybody else in the country -- not to mention its crimes against people of color around the world. But Shaun King believes every word these agencies say about Trump and Putin -- and he will denounce YOU if you challenge their veracity. King is making his stand -- with the FBI and CIA.
“When these professional liars, disrupters and regime changers turn their tools on Trump and Putin, their words become golden for King.”
If King were a smarter fellow, I would suggest that he attend the Black Is Back Coalition national conference in St. Louis, August 11 and 12, whose theme is, “There is no peace: Africa and Africans are at war. U.S. to the world: Comply or Die!” The conference “recognizes the unrelenting war that is being made by the U.S. government against Black people -- on the continent of Africa and throughout the U.S. -- in every aspect of our lives.” Shaun King sometimes makes noises indicating that he is aware this war is going on, and that the intelligence agencies of the state -- under presidents of both corporate parties -- are main actors in this ongoing aggression. But, at this juncture in history, King is “all in” with the FBI and the CIA. So, he won’t be wouldn’t be welcome in St. Louis.
Shaun King may be an "activist," but he is not part of the Black Radical Tradition of W.E.B. Dubois, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Panther Party. Even Dubois once toyed with accepting the offer of a commission in U.S. Army Intelligence, during World War One, when it was massively spying on and disrupting Blacks and socialists. But Dubois lived long enough to reject such collaboration, and so became a target of the state. Maybe Shaun King's worldview will mature in the future. But right now, the brother ain't ready.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].