Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 23, 2010 / 15 Tishrei, 5771

Officer down, killer hyped up

By Michael Smerconish



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | PHILADELPHIA — Mention "Black Panthers" to a young person today and if the words have any resonance at all, they might bring to mind the two knuckleheads who made a scene outside a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day 2008.

But there was a time when a powerful revolutionary movement of the same name — with infinitely more damaging consequences — actually did infiltrate urban America.

Tigre Hill's new movie, "The Barrel of a Gun," which premiered Tuesday at the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia, is a grim reminder of that era. The movie is a full-screen documentary about the murder of Daniel Faulkner by Mumia Abu-Jamal on Dec. 9, 1981, in Philadelphia.

What is left to explore about arguably the highest profile death-penalty case in the world?

Context.

At a time when the only thing some may wish to hear about Abu-Jamal is news of his passing, Hill does a public service in "Barrel" by placing his actions in historical context and providing a compelling answer as to why Abu-Jamal pulled the trigger.

The movie chronicles the rise of the Black Panthers and the peak of their power in the late 1960s. The FBI defined the Panthers as a "black extremist organization" that "advocates the use of guns and guerrilla tactics to bring about the overthrow of the United States government." J. Edgar Hoover called them "the greatest danger to the internal security of the country."

The Panthers preached black militancy and the use of violence not only to achieve revolution, but also to enliven the consciousness of those behind it. In short, they wanted to overthrow the establishment, so they targeted its most visible representatives: police officers.

For the blueprint of this revolution, the film notes, Panthers cofounder Huey Newton looked past figures like Karl Marx or the Soviet Union. Instead, Newton's Panthers drew inspiration from Mao Tse-tung. The Panthers' kinship with Chairman Mao was so pronounced that Newton and his foot soldiers handed out copies of the Little Red Book — essentially Mao's manifesto.

Abu-Jamal, still a teenager when he helped found the Panthers' Philadelphia chapter, was one of those distributing the book.

He was proselytizing for an organization whose rallying cry at the time was "Off the pigs." And indeed, in 1967, Newton was convicted of voluntary manslaughter after an altercation in which an Oakland police officer was killed. He was released two years later on a technicality — the appellate court concluded that the trial judge had given the jury improper deliberation instructions.

Of Newton, Abu-Jamal wrote in 2004: "It is beyond dispute that Huey P. Newton was a man of signal brilliance and truly remarkable courage. ... He was a model that all Panthers aspired to." Of police officers, he wrote in 1970: "I for one feel like putting down my pen. Let's write epitaphs for pigs."

When the Panthers' influence waned in the 1970s, Abu-Jamal became infatuated with MOVE, itself a supposedly revolutionary "back-to-nature" organization with local origins.

By this time, Hill's film notes, Abu-Jamal was working as a radio journalist. And as MOVE's infamy in Philadelphia boiled over with the murder of Officer James Ramp in 1978 and the subsequent conviction of the MOVE 9, Abu-Jamal traded his objectivity for advocacy.

In interviews with Hill, observers and colleagues describe an increasingly confrontational Abu-Jamal injecting MOVE's agenda into every story he filed. They recall a man whose political leanings were so radicalized that peers felt uncomfortable engaging him. "A number of people had said he's going to snap," one observer says in the film. Eventually, Abu-Jamal had to become a taxi driver because the news organizations for which he worked no longer wanted to run his stories.

All of which makes a mockery of the way in which the murderer's supporters often describe him — as a "brilliant" or "award-winning" journalist taken down by a corrupt system. Far from it. When he ran across the street to execute Officer Faulkner, Mumia Abu-Jamal was nothing more than a cabby with a history of radicalism so pronounced that the FBI maintained a file on him.

Therein lies the real value of "The Barrel of a Gun." The film's most notable accomplishment is placing Officer Faulkner's murder in historical context, while also reminding us of an era fraught with extremist domestic groups whose central focus was to perpetrate violence against the state.

Today, the term "radical" is trotted out — with little accuracy and even less reservation — to describe a political opponent. Or the president of the United States. And the most infamous deed of the New Black Panthers, who make a brief appearance in "Barrel," consists of standing outside the old Richard Allen Homes with a billy-club on Election Day.

It all pales in comparison to the reality that men like Officers Faulkner and Ramp or Sgt. Frank Von Colln, executed in 1970 amid a fit of anti-police violence, encountered throughout their careers.

Hill's film succeeds because it reminds us, often in painstaking detail, of a not-too-distant period when nobody could mistake the real radicals. It's a case study of a movement fueled by violence — and how Danny Faulkner became a victim of it.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.


Previously:


08/04/10 Documents highlight Pakistan's shortcomings as a U.S. ally
07/06/10 On taking back Sept. 11
06/29/10 Name elite corps to develop energy independence?
04/21/10 New account reinforces a serviceman's valor
03/11/10 Medical profession must police itself better
02/18/10 One-trick athletes
02/09/10 Active, retired law officers should be able to carry guns on planes to help stop terrorists
02/04/10 How to bring tech up to speed
01/28/10 Campaign donations must be fully and immediately disclosed online
01/07/10 The flying emperor still has no clothes, and no one is willing to say so
12/24/09 A law to mandate college football playoffs?
12/17/09 Cheney's abuse of freedom of speech
11/26/09 The true cost of freedom from anxiety
10/27/09 If GOP wants to win in 2012, it must reshape its primary process
10/08/09 It's time to get smarter on extended school day
09/03/09 What a summer of eulogizing flawed public figures reveals about society
08/12/09 It's time for cyclists and motorists to reconcile
08/05/09 Faces have changed, but vitriol remains
06/25/09 Fair comment or foul? Warm up the Muzzle Meter
06/08/09 Believability is key in crime-hoax villains
05/14/09 Did Hollywood inspire the meltdown men?
04/20/09 Let's give killers their due: Anonymity
03/12/09 Uninsured who can't afford medical care lose a lot more
02/06/09 My debate with Musharraf on hunt for bin Laden
01/29/09 Torture must remain an option
01/15/09 Making a case for suing Madoff
12/22/08 A difficult but rational chat about ‘plans’
12/17/08 Facebook epidemic: More than 120 million have joined, many too old for this nonsense
12/01/08 The high price of downsizing the news biz
11/14/08 Prescience on greed, arrogance of a system
09/29/08 Closer look at party lines
08/26/08 Obama's pick creates GOP opportunity
08/21/08 Fishing with the Angry Everyman
07/31/08 The perils of e-mail: Ponder, then click
05/22/08 Two very different sides of the Internet
02/12/08 Sublimely ridiculous suits
11/28/08 Cell phones cut out secondary circle of kinship
09/26/07 What do we owe those who have died in Iraq?
08/30/07 A Navy SEAL's gut-wrenching tale of survival
07/30/07 First it was a faux pas, now it's a new word


© 2008, The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles