Sunday, March 19, 2006

Herr Schiff Responds...(Sort of)


Michael Schiffmann recently penned a “response” to my “Guten Tagg Herr Schiff” posting from a couple of weeks ago. As for the delay, Schiffmann informed me that he had not responded to me

“because it came in during my Germany tour together with Linn Washington and pressing other needs”.

(For those of you who don’t know, Linn Washington is a long time Mumia apologist from Philadelphia).

As I read and reread the response a couple of times I was again struck by the idea that the “movement” to “Free Mumia” is one that is based in faith and faith alone. Quite literally, there is no one outside of the crackpot left who still believes in the myth of Mumia’s innocence.

One can consider the Mumia cause as a kind of junction between hope, ignorance, and political ideology. Most of the people who have encountered the movement have realized that it is a cause that has had it’s day and should be relegated to the graveyard of bad ideas. Others have come to the similar and equally true conclusion that the “Free Mumia” movement was, and is, nothing more than a way for the MOVE cult to secure funds and new members.

Yet, there are those like Schiffman, who still seek to profit from the murder of Officer Faulkner and seek to hoist Jamal aloft as some kind of hero, a victim of “the system”, and a “voice of the voiceless”.

In his “response”, Schiffman shiftily avoids dealing with the issue of MOVE entirely. He provides no explanation as to how he believes Officer Faulkner was killed, as if none is needed. And for Schiffman and those like him, none is needed. For he and his “fellow travelers” all that is needed to be known is that Mumia is a good leftist who has toted the party line faithfully and relatively successfully.

The masters of the Mumia propaganda machine proceed viciously from conclusion to premise with a shameful disregard for common sense or any respect for those who dare to question their validity or motivations. This mythology produced is presented as if it were primordial truths, unquestionable and unassailable.

Those like myself, who do dare to cast doubt upon the product of the rusting Mumia machine are shamelessly vilified and cast as evil characters in some kind of silly “us versus them” paradigm.

According to the reality as offered by Schiffman and company, if you believe Mumia is where he is because he put himself there through his own stupid actions, than you are in concert with the “most reactionary elements in official American politics”. And while this is ad-hominem in its most squalid fashion, it does serve a purpose, and that is to disqualify anything that I might say as the deluded rant of a born-again, Bushite, ready to push the needle of death into Mumia’s arm all by my little lonesome.

I am posting Schiffman’s response to my post for a number of reasons, the least of which is that he makes the point better than I can that he and the current crop of Mumia devotees have no sense of intellectual curiosity, no shame in blaming the victim, no legal grounds to stand on, and furthermore are so hysterical that they cannot recognize what everybody else already knows and that is that Mumia Abu-Jamal murdered Daniel Faulkner.

What is obvious is that Schiffman, and Dave Lindorff, whose book he apparently garnered most of his arguments from, are people with a political agenda. It is a radical and anti-American agenda and it is no coincidence that it is one that they share with Mumia Abu-Jamal.

As for the other side of the equation. Maureen Faulkner, the prosecutors, the witnesses in the case who saw what happened that night back in 1981, they wanted justice. Does Mr. Schiffman actually contend that Mrs. Faulkner would stand for a conspiracy to get Mumia just because of his politics, while the true killer of her husband got away? The same would go for Faulkner’s friends and colleagues who came upon the scene and saw a person they cared for blown to bits? Does Schiffman expect anyone to believe that Mumia’s own brother would not immediately finger the actual shooter or testify on behalf of his brother at his trial? What did Billy Cook say when police arrived on the scene? He said that he “ain’t got nothing to do with it”. He could have exonerated his brother on the spot. Why didn’t he? Because he knew his brother did it.

But what about Jamal himself? When he murdered Officer Faulkner, his life, personal and professional was in a tailspin. Here he was, a talented, bright, by all accounts compassionate human being relegated to driving a cab late at night in one of the murkiest corners of Philadelphia.

But he had come under the spell of MOVE and John Africa and just like so many others who have entered MOVE’s orbit, the end result was death and destruction. As one friend of Jamal put it at the time of the trial

I believe that Mumia saw MOVE as people who were family, who were totally loyal to him," said WDAS news reporter E. Steven Collins, a longtime friend of Abu-Jamal's. " They were capable of giving him the inner strength he needed for the ordeal."

Mumia had watched the MOVE members on trial for murdering police officer James Ramp. These men and women of MOVE who would daily stand up and heap scorn upon the “system” would become Jamal’s heroes. Where the Panthers had failed to live up to the expectations Mumia had placed upon them, here was MOVE, filling the void. Mumia would spend his spare time not with his family, but with his new friends in MOVE. I have an audio cassette made by Jamal just months before he murdered Faulkner. It is supposed to be an interview with incarcerated MOVE members, but in it, Jamal barely speaks, barely a question is asked. It is all MOVE and their vile rhetoric and it goes on ad nauseam.

So there he was, a head emptied of rationality replaced by MOVE’s convoluted version of reality and he sees his brother in an altercation with a police officer. So he follows in the footsteps of his MOVE heroes. He gets out of his cab, unholstered his weapon, and the rest as they say, is history.

And for me. I wish that I could say that Mumia was innocent. I wish that I could agree that he was framed and is in jail unjustly and that my years laboring on his behalf were not years of my life that were squandered. But I cannot say that. I cannot say that because I am a “cop” or on some kind of government payroll. I cannot say it because the facts and my conscience cannot allow me to.

But don’t take my word for it. Read the trial transcripts yourself and also read the ever evolving and ever outlandish defense theories. Also pay close attention to how the Mumia movement has been in a literal and rhetorical state of retreat and disembodiment ever since the small but persistent voices of reason have been heard over the mindless chants of the “Free Mumia” factions.

And by all means, read Schiffman’s desperate attempt to impeach my credibility and his nearly hilarious attempts to create imaginary issues for which he and his cohorts can attempt to mine some kind of rallying cry. Take for example this gem from Schiffman:

"Mr. Allen, Mr. Smerconsish, and all the others who claim this: Would you please stand up and name all those mythical cases that Mr. Antony Jackson won between 1978, when the death penalty was reintroduced in Pennsylvania, and 1981? Twenty murder cases in three years? While he was working full time as an attorney for a civil rights organisation devoted to the struggle against police brutality, which is why Mumia chose him? This is just preposterous. Once more, to arguments, you are just answering with rants and raves. With your new friends in high places now, again, Mr. Allen: Please produce the names and trial records of all the homicide/capital defendants that were defended and saved by Anthony Jackson!

The above is just pathetic to the point that I have grown from being mostly amused by Schiffman to actually pitying him.

I do not have to produce the “mythical cases”. Why? Because during the 1995 PCRA hearings Anthony Jackson himself provided the information as to his legal background. Rants and Raves indeed. Consider the following:

Q. How many murder cases had you tried, sir, prior to December, or I should say June the 2nd of 1982?
A. My best recollection is a minimum of 16, perhaps 20 cases, 20 murder cases before Mr. Jamal's case.
Q. And how many of those defendants were convicted of first degree murder? Just round numbers if you can. Percentages if you can.
A. A half dozen.
Q. So out of 20 murder cases, six people convicted of first degree murder. And ostensibly, those six people faced the judgment of life or death by a jury, I presume?
A. That is correct, sir. Let me correct it. This is tough. I think there may have been two, possibly three that were convicted of first degree on waivers, with the judge.
Q. Nevertheless, the two possible penalties for first degree conviction are only a life or a death sentence; is that correct?
A. That is correct, sir.
Q. Of those six people -- that was prior to Mr. Jamal's –
A. That is correct.
Page 93.
Anthony Jackson, Esq. - Cross
Q. -- none of those people received the death penalty, did they?
A. No, sir.
Q. Okay. And since you had had 20 murder trials, more or less, before Mr. Jamal was tried, where did you have time to squeeze all those in between the D.A.'s Office and the Police Department and the prison system and Pilcop?

A. I worked real hard. I did, I could try to tell you. 1975 was the year because I think I left the D.A.'s Office in January, maybe February of 1975. During that time again I was staff counsel for the Prison Master, it was not full-time. During that first year of being in private practice, I think I was appointed to three, maybe four criminal cases, criminal homicide cases. I was privately retained for one.
Q. Major cases, sir? And by that I mean every case is major if there's a murder involved?
A. Right.


At this point I think it is clear enough that Mr. Schiffmann has embarrassed himself and that is too bad for him. But from my view, the greater tragedy in all of this is all of the wasted time and energy that is devoted to Jamal by people like Schiffmann and so many others.

You can read his "response" for yourself at his website. Just follow the Mumia links and his response is at the bottom of the page

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