The Mumia Narrative
(Pic Of Billy Cook's car)
The release of the trailer for Tigre Hill’s upcoming film about the murder of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner by Mumia Abu-Jamal has elicited fearful reactions by Jamal supporters. Two pro-Mumia articles have recently been released that attack the soon-to-be released documentary, this despite the fact that nobody has seen the final product.
One article, written by Anton Mestin, is so poorly constructed and argued that it is its own best argument against itself and the Mumia cause Mestin hopes to defend. It also contains the kind of allegation that is typical of the Jamal cause in that it assumes what should have to be proven when Mestin asserts that “Now Smerconish paid a filmmaker, Tigre Hill to produce a new vicious attack on reality. They will publish a film about Mumia Abu-Jamal and Daniel Faulkner in December 2009." Mestin offers no clues as to where he heard this allegation and makes the declarative statement as if no evidence is needed for it. For their part, the people behind the creation of “The Barrel of a Gun” stated on the film’s Facebook page that Smerconish “has at no time contributed any money to any aspect of this film or its marketing”. I would only add that if Mestin had any proof that Tigre Hill’s film was being funded by Smerconish that he owes it to everyone to explain where he received his information from and back his claims up with facts.
The other article attacking Hill’s film was written, or to be more precise, mostly cut and pasted by long-time Jamal apologist and conspiracy theorist Michael Schiffman. I have dealt with Schiffman on previous occasions and have exhaustively debunked his pro-Mumia propaganda on my blog. There is no need for me to re-visit and re-debunk Schiffman’s completely absurd and frankly laughable ideas about the murder that his friend Mumia committed. What I find interesting is just how frankly insulting to the intellect Schiffman can be. For example, he spends an extraordinary amount of time informing his readers that the man who prosecuted Jamal’s case is simply making things up and putting forth a generally impossible narrative of events concerning Officer Faulkner’s murder.
The fact remains that the prosecution case has withstood perhaps more scrutiny than perhaps 90% of all contested court cases in this country and it has stood up. Are there pockets of unanswered questions in the prosecutions case? Clearly the answer is yes. I don’t think that there is anyone who would deny that. However, the burden placed upon the prosecution is to prove “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” and not necessarily to have a picture perfect reconstruction of the crime committed. It is their job to try and I think Jamal’s prosecutors did a good job in explaining what happened to Officer Faulkner (clearly the jurors agreed as well). Where the prosecution has remained consistent and impervious to serious scrutiny, Jamal’s defense, in it’s multitude of incarnations has shown itself to be lacking in not only scruples, but also in any kind of factual coherence. What Jamal’s varied defense teams have been short of in the truth department they have more than made up for in the realm of fanatical delusions. The defense team has concocted and contrived some of the most inane and absurd ideas ever that have ever been heard inside a courtroom. From phantom helicopters that do not exist, to dead men talking, to dead prostitutes rising from the grave to be seen in a Camden crack hose, the defense teams have had no shortage of clearly deranged theories to put forward in the service of Mumia. It goes without saying that the need for the defense to contrive so many scurriulous theories is because Jamal himself has never offered any explanation that comes close to being a coherent counter to that of the prosecution. That being the case, I find it particularly humorous that Schiffman would so shamelessly and without even a second thought, so aggressively go after Jamal’s prosecution. Especially considering the fact that Schiffman’s own ideas are so backwards, so clearly false, so ridiculous, and useless that Jamal’s current crop of lawyers won’t even embrace them, which says a lot.
It should be said however, that at the end of the day, Schiffman and company have no interest in the facts of the case, they simply want to “free Mumia” because he is first of all a political comrade, secondly Jamal still has some value as a marketing device, and finally because Schiffman’s world view demands a narrative that fits into the parameters that he is comfortable with. For Jamal’s few remaining supporters, it is this final factor that is most compelling and is the driving force. There was a time when there were large groups of people who very sincerely believed in Jamal’s actual innocence, but those days are over. This turn of events came about thanks to the availability of trial transcripts and the diligence of people who took the time examine just what it was that Jamal’s supporters were saying and directly challenging them with facts. There is little chance that someone devoid of a political agenda could look at both sides of the debate and conclude that Mumia is anything but a guilty man. Something that is more likely is that someone with far-left views will choose to ignore facts not favorable to their agenda and make ill-conceived assumptions based not on cold, hard, facts, but by a slavish devotion to ideological considerations. This is why Mumia still has any support at all. If Mumia had been an underemployed man of any color, with no history with MOVE or especially the Black Panthers and the same kind of evidence was presented against him, nobody would dare take up his cause. For the current crop of Jamal supporters it is about politics, while for those of us who advocate justice for Daniel Faulkner it is about justice.
In an article discussing the Jamal phenomena, Christian Peheim, (who also very effectively debunked Schiffman’s pro-Jamal drivel) drives home the point that politics is the driving factor in the Jamal cause with frank elegance:
“Courts in the United States do not care about political pressure by supporters of Abu-Jamal. Demonstrations in the streets will never change a decision based on the merits of an argument. French delegations visiting the mayor of Philadelphia will never achieve anything. By the way, if they want to achieve anything they would have to meet District Attorney Lynne Abraham and convince her. (They wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell.)
Political pressure could influence politicians only. Before the death sentence has been vacated, Abu-Jamal’s chances to receive clemency would have been increased by showing remorse. By putting the head in the sand and supporting his unbelievable claims of innocence his supporter have helped to forever destroy his chances to receive clemency. They did not help Abu-Jamal but abused him for their own purposes. No reasonable politician would ever grant clemency to a remorseless cop killer. If the death sentence will ever be re-instated and executed these supporters will partially be responsible for his death.
Actually, I think this scenario doesn’t seem to be very likely. After the decision of the Third Circuit Court Abu-Jamal’s fate seems to be rather clear. Most likely he will stay behind bars for the rest of his life, where he belongs.
Also in future his supporters will use him. He still can be useful as a shared topic for various left-wing groups and as a basis to collect donations. Who knows where all the money went which has been collected in his name?”
So, for the Jamal supporters it all rests on politics and the desperate need to create a narrative that conforms not to facts, but the political sensibilities of people that the narrative needs to be marketed to. This is why in Schiffman’s article; he goes far out of his way to mention the 1968 murder of Fred Hampton as a mechanism and as an aid to show a conspiracy to kill Mumia. In doing this, Schiffman is setting up a straw man argument. There is no correlation between the two cases to be found. Fred Hampton was a high ranking member of the Black Panther Party when he was gunned down. Through his charisma and adept leadership the Party was making inroads and had the potential to if not be a threat to Chicago’s political leadership, at least a threat to the Police that gunned him down. Mumia, on the other hand, had been out of the Panthers for several years, was no longer viable as a journalist, was on a downward trajectory in her personal life, and was absolutely no threat to any political order. Perhaps it was the recognition of his own failures and impotence that Jamal made the choice to put into action his now infamous quote from Chairman Mao that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”. The murder of Officer Faulkner and the incarceration of Mumia rising not out of a fear of Jamal being a “threat” to the “system”, but rising out of Jamal’s own searing failures, professional, political, and personal. Jamal was the arbiter of his own demise, nobody needed to help him.
For Jamal supporters, the myth of his innocence necessitates new and even more elaborate theories as old ones are subsequently and completely discredited in the face of facts. There is a kind of infinite regress going on since Jamal’s first trial when the lies of that time failed obtain result, those lies turned into others, and still other lies arose as time and court dates came and went as did the amount of support. There is no reason for us to expect that pattern to change anytime soon.