What do former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields and former Ferguson thug Michael Brown have in common?
OK, that was too easy. Let’s try again: What commonality exists between Fields and convenience store-tosser Brown?
Answer: The rash judgment immediately following their national exposure.
Nearly two years ago, the country was engulfed in the sad, sorry saga of Michael Brown. Shot dead in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, Brown became the poster boy for police brutality against blacks. Brown’s body was still warm on the pavement when the media went into berserk mode, charging Officer Darren Wilson with murder and maligning the entire police force as inveterate racists.
The story fit the progressive narrative: Brown was an unarmed black teeanger gunned down by a white cop. A few conservative voices called for calm as the details were sorted out. Rep. Paul Ryan (now Speaker of the House) warned the public not to “jump to prejudging conclusions before evidence is in.”
Their warnings were prescient: President Obama’s Department of Justice declined to charge Officer Wilson. The law-enforcement agency, which was headed by race-baiter Eric Holder, could not disprove Wilson’s claim that he was acting in self-defense at the time he killed Brown.
Now, take a look at the dustup between Michelle Fields and Trump 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. According to Fields’ account, she attempted to ask Teflon Don a question, when Lewandowski grabbed her “tightly” by the arm and “yanked” her toward the ground. She later tweeted bruises from the encounter. Video evidence has since emerged showing that while Lewandowski physically moved her by grabbing her arm, this was no violent encounter.
Prior to the smoking gun’s emergence, the anti-Trump forces in the media pounced on the incident. Megyn Kelly of Fox News gave a primetime spotlight to the story. John Podhoretz called Lewandowski a “clinical sociopath” (them’s tough words coming from a chickenhawk Iraq War supporter). Allahpundit trashed the Trump campaign for questioning Fields’ integrity. There was a semi-revolt within Breitbart, leading to mass resignations including Fields and runt provocateur Ben Shapiro.
Keep in mind, the opprobrium tossed upon Team Trump came before video partially exonerated Lewandowski. Those who threw mud already assumed a guilty verdict. Like a scene out of Twelve Angry Men, the accused was immediately culpable in the minds of the jury. No appeals to caution would have stopped someone like blogger Steve Berman, who called Corey Lewandowski a “little, little man (and a thug).”
Many of the same folks who urged prudence in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting instantly pooh-poohed the Trump campaign. They did so because the man-handling incident fit their narrative: Trump and his goons are a violent threat to conservatism and American democracy.
Thus, Black Lives Matter and Conservatism, Inc., finally have a common bond. Both rush to judgment when the situation bolsters their ideology. For BLM activists, it’s the notion that racism is deeply imbedded in law enforcement practices. For professional conservatives, it’s the idea that Donald Trump is a mortal threat to the interests of multimillionaire donors, which is deceptively called free enterprise and limited government.
What’s the reason for this kind of impasse? Why is it so easy for political arguments to rest entirely upon predetermined cause and effect?
The Scottish philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre might have the answer. According to MacIntyre, modernity has stripped the West of a common frame of reference for discussing issues in a rational, respectful manner. “The self-assertive shrillness of protest arises because the facts of incommensurability ensure that protestors can never win an argument,” he writes in his book After Virtue.
Thanks to radical individualism and the loss of community standards, every special snowflake has an opinion worthy of serious consideration. In a society where all opinions are of equal weight, opinions are as light as air. We’re all right, no matter what the other side says. And you’re an unwelcome bigot if you disagree.
Michael Brown aggressively attacked Officer Wilson, prompting a lethal defense. Corey Lewandowski rudely pushed his way past Michelle Fields – he didn’t throw her to the ground or physically attack her. These determinations mean nothing, however, in the eyes of their critics. For them, Wilson and Lewandowski are a guilty as sin. No video, no trial, no proof can convince them otherwise.
In a pluralistic society such as ours, the inability to find common ground can be deadly. Societal cohesion cannot exist without some agreed-upon norms. As the classic Yeats line goes, “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” If you’re fully convinced of your side’s invincibility, you have no reason to give ground to your opponents. You’re right; they’re wrong. End of story.
Giving the benefit of the doubt, and allowing ample time for deliberation becomes a loser tactic. And since losing in America often means the loss of moral standing, it becomes imperative to win, even if it means rushing to judgment without all the facts.
The Michael Brown case is closed. But that doesn’t stop BLM hoodlums from reenacting the “hands up, don’t shoot” myth. Michelle Fields has filed a police report of her alleged assault. Should Lewandowski be found guilty, he deserves to have the book thrown at him. But if he’s found innocent, will his detractors change their mind about the Trumpinator?
I think not. The sad souls suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome should tread more lightly. Adopting the Left’s hardline tactics will come back and bite them in the butt.