Whitewashing the Crimes of Racial Revolutionaries
The media's timid treatment of the Black Panthers and Black Lives Matter.
After spending the past 43 years in solitary confinement in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, 69-year-old Albert Woodfox, a former Black Panther, was recently set free as part of a plea deal with state prosecutors. Exhibiting not a shred of remorse for his 1972 murder of a young white prison guard, Woodfox defiantly raised a clenched fist in a Black Power salute as he stepped into his freedom for the first time in four decades. Breitbart.com points out, quite significantly, that numerous media outlets—among them the New York Times, CNN, and ABC—have reported, in their coverage of Woodfox’s release, that his fellow Black Panther and criminal accomplice, Robert King Wilkerson, was released from prison fifteen years ago when his own conviction on a 1973 murder charge was overturned. But that is not how Wilkerson was released. When Wilkerson’s conviction was struck down on a legal technicality in 2000, he remained incarcerated and was scheduled to be tried yet again. It was not until 2001, when the State of Louisiana agreed to release him in exchange for pleading guilty to the charge of Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Second-Degree Murder, that Wilkerson was let out of prison. The misrepresentation of the circumstances surrounding Wilkerson’s case are just “the latest example of how the media continues to cover up the violent past of the Black Panthers in order to make it appear that the group, and black people in general, are victims of unfair persecution by law enforcement,” says Breitbart.
In reality, the Black Panther Party was among the most violent, barbaric, revolutionary organizations in modern American history. Its founder—a longtime criminal named Huey Newton—in 1966 drafted a Ten-Point Program charging that because America’s “racist government” had collaborated with “the capitalists” to “rob” the “Black Community” blind, that same government was now morally “obligated,” as a form of restitution, to give all blacks “employment or a guaranteed income” as well as taxpayer-funded “land, bread, housing, education, [and] clothing” until the end of time. Moreover, Newton argued that “all Black people should be released from … jails and prisons because they have not received a fair and impartial trial.” He also issued a call for blacks to “arm themselves for self-defense,” which was in fact an incitement to a race war. As Panther “minister of culture” Emory Douglas put it in 1970: “The only way to make this racist U.S. government administer justice to the people it is oppressing, is … by taking up arms against this government, killing the officials, until the reactionary forces … are dead, and those that are left turn their weapons on their superiors.”
Portraying law-enforcement officers as the racist agents of a racist nation, the Panthers regularly tried to defy and provoke police—“pigs,” as they contemptuously called them—by appearing in public places carrying loaded firearms. Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver acknowledged years later (in 1986): “We [Panthers] would go out and ambush cops, but if we got caught we would blame it on them and claim innocence.”
Of course, ambushing the police wasn’t the only thing the Panthers knew how to do. They also perfected the arts of dealing drugs, pimping prostitutes, extorting money, stealing property, beating people senseless, and on at least a dozen occasions, committing homicide. In 1969 alone, Panther members were arrested 348 times for murder, armed robbery, rape, and burglary.
Because the Panthers hated America, they naturally detested capitalism and revered Communism. David Hilliard, for one, lauded the many graces of “Marxism-Leninism.” Eldridge Cleaver once wrote that “if you look around the world, you will see that the only countries which have liberated themselves … are precisely those countries that have strongly Marxist-Leninist parties.” The Panthers made Mao Zedong’s iconic _Red Book_ required reading for all their members, and for guidance in how to establish revolutionary socialism in the United States they studied the works of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh, and Frantz Fanon.
In September 1968, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover described the Panthers as the single “greatest threat to the internal security of the country.” Much more recently, historian Ronald Radosh described them as “a group of Stalinist thugs who murdered and killed both police and their own internal dissenters.” And in a _Sixty Minutes_ interview in 1997, none other than Eldridge Cleaver conceded: “If people had listened to Huey Newton and me in the 1960s, there would have been a holocaust in this country.”
Notwithstanding the Panthers’ innumerable destructive deeds and agendas, the mainstream media have whitewashed the group’s activities many times. Just last fall, for instance, the publicly funded PBS television aired a Stanley Nelson documentary film titled The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, which Nelson himself described as unabashedly “pro-Panther.” PBS, for its part, non-judgmentally reported that the Panthers, to this day, “remain powerful and enduring figures in our popular imagination.”
Among the most egregious examples of Panther whitewashing in recent years has been the longstanding leftist campaign to defend the convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Marxist icon whose revolutionary politics earned him: (a) the sympathy of a host of luminaries in academia, the arts, the media, and politics; (b) invitations to be a guest speaker (via video transmission from the confines of his prison cell) at a number of university commencement ceremonies; and © the privilege of being named as an honorary citizen of approximately 25 cities around the world.
The ideological descendants of the Black Panther Party have likewise been treated with deference by many in the media. Consider, for instance, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Though its founders are committed revolutionary Marxists and America-hating racists with deep ties to the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, the New York Times Editorial Board portrays BLM as a well-intentioned social-justice initiative that seeks only to point out that “the lives of black citizens in this country historically have not mattered, and have been discounted and devalued.”
Such watered-down characterizations of BLM’s motives—like the aforementioned misrepresentations of the Black Panthers’ sordid history—make it virtually impossible for most Americans to really understand the aggressive, vindictive, and pitiless nature of the radical enemy our country faces.