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If You See Something, Say Something #3

A Weekly Media Criticism from The Shoestring

Dr. Lawyer got lost, can’t find The Left

On December 28th the Gazette published Dr. Michael “Middle Class” Pill Esq.’s opinion column on Northampton’s “ammo flap”. This piece could have spoke to the presumably relevant life experience of Pill’s mortal peril here in Northampton but instead simply regurgitated some well trod pro-police propaganda. After proclaiming his own bona fides Pill bemoans how too many fellow leftists have forgotten the importance of well armed police imposing law and order upon our city.

At issue here is not just the corporate sponsorship of our police force (though I don’t think you need a Ph.D. in Marxian Economic Theory to imagine what Marx would have to say about that). Nor is it just a local echo of the country-wide discussion on emoluments and the importance of those in authority being above suspicion of outside influence. The point is that we, Pill’s fellow lefties, are rejecting the militarization of our police.

Seeing our police request surveillance cameras (unsuccessfully) and riot gear (successfully) following their training in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jails was alarming. Another recent request by our police department was to train with the Israeli Defense Force which raised enough red flags that it was thankfully called off.

After euphemizing “unjustified police shootings” as “police officers losing their temper” Pill goes on to equate employment to protected classes like race and gender (echoed in the headline). But the real coup de grâce was when he used an MLK quote to defend police all police in spite of an epidemic of police corruption. With MLK as a central target of our country’s largest and most shameful police corruption scandal this seems an egregiously poor choice.

It’s as if this clickbait were specifically chosen to subvert the conversation’s central point. We cannot willfully conflate occupation with race, creating a blue people who are collectively lauded as heroes but never collectively scrutinized for their abuses of power. We must resist a militarized police force. – Chris Kitzmiller

Preserving a Legacy

On December 27, the Gazette ran a story by the Associated Press which announces that a “Massachusetts historical society that preserves the legacy of the pilgrims” is planning to build Quadricentennial Park, a park to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower. It notes that the park will have kiosks that will allow visitors to learn more about historic sites. The article ends abruptly with a lone closing sentence, “Plymouth 400 says it is inviting potential donors to contribute to a special campaign.”

Though this article presents itself accurately as an advertisement to would-be investors of the park, it omits a pretty important detail related to the arrival of the Mayflower and the subsequent settlement of the Plymouth colony: the genocide of indigenous people. That the Gazette is willing to blindly circulate this article as if it were simply another announcement of a new park is problematic. Like the history books many of us read as kids, when the Gazette chooses to omit the genocide of indigenous people by European colonial settlers, it is also complicit in the erasure of that history. – BG

Blair Gimma is a co-editor of The Shoestring and is alive in Massachusetts.

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